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Krysten Lindsay Hager: How Carolyn Bessette Kennedy Became an Inspiration for Me
Monday, November 27th, 2023

I’ve always loved Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s bold minimalism style since I was a teenager, and I love how it’s become popular on TikTok and YouTube. In fact, there’s even a new book out about her style. Back in the day, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy was talked about in every major fashion magazine. Notice I don’t say, “interviewed,” or even, “on the cover.” That’s because she didn’t do interviews, cover shoots, or editorials. She worked in fashion and was also a fashion muse and inspiration, and what’s great about her style is how timeless yet modern it is, even though the photos are from the nineties.

Carolyn wasn’t plastered all over the media due to her seeking attention, but rather the fact people couldn’t help but to pay attention to her. It was refreshing then and even more so now as you see people hiring companies that generate articles about up-and-coming celebrities just to get them more attention.

I liked Carolyn’s modern, streamlined style, but I also admired how she conducted herself in public even more. There was a mystery to her that has become even more intriguing in the last few years as there’s very little mystery left to celebrities in the modern world. So, it makes sense that she inspired me years ago when I wrote a short story for my creative writing class in college. I wrote a story called “True Grit Need Not Apply,” about a teen girl dating the son of a popular senator and how they were opposites. I imagined a girl named Emme Trybus who had a bit more of a boho streak than Carolyn (although in the scene below I do reference the exact lip color she used to wear because I tracked it down back in the day—haha), but is thrust into a high-profile lifestyle due to who she was dating.

I wondered how Carolyn dealt with that high-profile life that came with photographers, gossip, and constant judgment. I found it fascinating how she was able to navigate through such a chaotic life. However, in my story, I made the couple teens and gave them different issues (trying to figure out what they want to do after high school, finding their path, and they both have grandparents dealing with health issues.)

My professor gave me great feedback and said it had vibes of Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, which I hadn’t read at the time but was thrilled to hear. After the semester ended, one of my critique group members, David, told me it was his favorite story of mine, and I should develop it into a novel. I began working on it, but it sat for quite some time due to the fact that I ended up working as a freelance journalist while going to grad school, then getting married, moving overseas, etc. When I came back to it years later, I felt like no time had passes as I was instantly drawn back into Emme and Brendon’s world where they’re falling in love despite being from different backgrounds. I titled it, Dating the It Guy. and was fortunate to get a publishing contract for it.

Last year, I rereleased Dating the It Guy with updates and a new epilogue to show you what happened to the two high schoolers after they graduate from college. I guess I wanted to give them the happily ever after I only wish Carolyn and John could have had.

Excerpt from Dating the It Guy

The next day, I woke with this weird feeling my laptop was going to act up. In fact, when I checked my e-mail in the morning, I was kind of surprised it switched on at all. I figured I was just being paranoid about not getting my rough draft done, or maybe it was because the planet Mercury was in retrograde, but I tried to ignore my feelings. We had the day off from class, so I didn’t start working on my paper until later in the evening. I had just started typing when my screen froze. Feeling panicked, I hit Control-Alt-Delete and restarted the laptop, but the screen went blue and started flickering. What was it doing, and why was there a little gray box on my computer telling me I had sixty seconds until it shut down? Fifty-nine…fifty-eight…fifty-seven… This was just like the episode of As My Children Wept where Samson had to stop the bomb hidden in Sierra and Aristotle’s wedding cake. Did it mean the laptop was going to blow? On the show, the cake blew up, and everybody thought Aristotle was dead…well, until he showed up at Sierra’s next wedding, and was Sierra’s new husband mad…probably just as mad as Mrs. Rae would be when I didn’t turn in my assignment.

“Mo-om! My laptop’s possessed. Fix it!”

“Why don’t you just ask me to get out my fairy princess wand and throw pixie dust on it,” she shot back. “I’d have better luck with that.”

Sarcasm was not cute when you were having a crisis. I tried calling Zach, but his mom said he was working late. I was desperate, so I asked his mom if she knew anything about computers.

“There’s a guy at Mary’s Little RAMs who works on mine. I could give you his number, but they closed at five tonight.”

I hung up defeated. I didn’t know anybody who knew a thing about computers. Oh crap. I did know somebody who knew about computers. Brendon. He had mentioned he took a computer class last semester, but could I call him? Usually, I’d have no problem calling a guy for something, but this wasn’t a normal guy. He was what Margaux would call a “Hottie McHotHot.” Okay, what was wrong with me? He was just a regular person like everybody else. He put his pants on one leg at a time and went to the toilet like everybody else…but I bet his bathroom was super clean and everything in it matched. I pictured the whole room done in some manly, rich-person color like “hunter green” or “maroon.” And there would be lots of dark mahogany—

“Emme? Do you want to use my laptop to work on your paper?” Mom yelled up the stairs.

“It won’t help,” I replied. “I saved it on the hard drive because I’m a loser.”

Freaking Mercury retrograde. I should have known better than to expect a computer to work right. I should have backed up my work or e-mailed it to myself, but no, I was too worried about ordering new lip gloss from Lickity Lips. Now I had no paper, no gloss, and probably after I called Brendon begging him for help, no pride. I called and left a message on Brendon’s phone saying I had a computer questions. He was probably out with some amazing prelaw, premed student who donated blood to anemic puppies and did puppet shows for the elderly while knitting booties for—

My phone buzzed, and Brendon’s name popped up on the screen.

Brendon: Hey, what’s up?

I wrote back and explained about my computer, and he started giving me suggestions, which would have been helpful if I had known what he was talking about. It was like he was typing in Aramaic. He offered to come over, and I went to fix my hair the second I put down the phone. Normally I didn’t do much with my hair. It was long and always seemed messy no matter what I did with it. Kylie always said it was tousled like something out of a magazine, and yeah, sometimes I agreed with her and even loved my hair…and other times I feel like strangers on the street were going to walk up and hand me a hairbrush. My hair had been in a ponytail all night, so I couldn’t wear it down because it had a ponytail holder crease. I wound it into a loose bun and put on my ruby lip stain. I was digging through my hamper for my cutest top when the doorbell rang. I threw it on and ran down the stairs.

“Hey, thanks for coming over,” I said as I answered the door. I told him my laptop was upstairs, and I felt weird, like I was trying to lure him into my bedroom or something. He followed me, and I realized I should have made sure my dirty underpants weren’t half hanging out of my hamper when I shut it. Of course, it wasn’t a cute pair, but the big momma pants. Why didn’t I just wear Little Bo Peep pantaloons?

“See, it does this weird countdown thing when I turn it on,” I said. He sat at my desk and started messing with my laptop while I sat on the bed. I wondered if he washed his hands or used some hand sanitizer because I had this strict “clean hands” policy about my keyboard. I mean, I heard on the news those keyboards were playgrounds for bacteria.

“It’s probably because Mercury is in retrograde,” I said. He stared at me as if I had said, “I was sacrificing a goat in here before you came in, please excuse the stains on my ceremonial robe.” I tried to explain. “It’s the planet that rules communication—never mind. Do you think you can fix it?”

“Not sure yet,” he said. “I think I can retrieve your paper though. Do you have someplace else to finish it if I can’t get this computer to work?”

I started to answer when he said he had brought his laptop over for me to use while he worked on my computer. So I could either go downstairs and type on my mother’s boring laptop and leave Mr. Hotness alone in my bedroom, or I could stay here and work on it while we were in my room. Together. Alone. In my room. I loved the planet Mercury.

Find Dating the It Guy here. It’s free in Kindle Unlimited:

About ​Krysten Lindsay Hager

Who knew all those embarrassing, cringe-y moments in middle school and high school could turn into a career? And who would have thought that daydreaming in math class would pay off down the road?

​Krysten Lindsay Hager writes for teens and tweens about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of Cecily Taylor Series, the Star Series, and the Landry’s True Colors Series.


2 comments to “Krysten Lindsay Hager: How Carolyn Bessette Kennedy Became an Inspiration for Me”

  1. Krysten Hager
    · November 27th, 2023 at 5:47 pm · Link

    Thanks so much for having me on today

  2. flchen
    · December 3rd, 2023 at 12:58 am · Link

    Great to meet you, Krysten!

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