Meredith Baxter Got Married, and I Might Have Helped
Congratulations, Mrs. Keaton!
Meredith Baxter just got married! I feel a tiny personal stake in this, which is mostly ridiculous because she is one of the icons of my childhood and I am just me. I am over-the-moon delighted for her and for her partner.
Not quite a year ago, Meredith Baxter wrote me a letter, creating for me one of the most important object lessons I could give to my kidlets, a reminder to say the nice things out loud. (In every role, she really was the best mom ever.)
Because my ignorant children had no idea who or what Meredith Baxter or Family Ties were, I had to come up with a this-generation star to drive my point home. Claire Dunphy, of Modern Family, was the obvious parallel.
Imagine you said a nice thing, I told them. And all of a sudden, there was Claire Dunphy in your inbox! Worth it, amirite?
My state, Washington, passed a marriage equality law last November. This development made me think some things that I almost didn’t say. The things were about the language we use around marriage, and the unexpected gift, for little ol’ heterosexual me, that my gay pals brought to that language. And I almost didn’t say them for the usual reasons — What if it’s corny? What if people think I’m weird? and so on.
But I did say the things. And then the New York Freaking Times picked them up, and my terror multiplied — justifiably, it turned out. Some people did, in fact, think I was weird.
But that did not matter even one bit. Because the things I said, which were nice, got read by Meredith Baxter. Who then said her own nice things. She could have just sat at her kitchen table with her lovely partner and said, “Gosh, I liked that article. Here, do you want to read it? I only dropped a little jelly on it.” And left it at that, which is almost certainly what I would have done. But Ms. Baxter took the time and said the things, and that has been a lasting gift to me.
I share her letter here. Because it is lovely. And because you might have grown up with her, too. I realize this feels a bit oh look what I did, and I wish I could think of a way around that. But I found her words and her story so astonishing, and I want everyone to join me in being so delighted for Meredith Baxter. I think you'll agree that, in addition to her other talents, she is an absolutely gorgeous writer.