Dear Ms. MacLaine,

In the spring of 1972, when I was an 11-year-old volunteer with Senator George McGovern’s presidential campaign in Manhattan, I was sent to your apartment (I believe it was on East 54th Street) to return a book you had sent to his campaign office.

While I can’t remember your address precisely, I am certain I remember, verbatim, the title of the book. It was called Adultery and Its Compatibility With Marriage.

Now that I’m older, I have to ask you: What in the world were you doing sending George McGovern a book entitled Adultery and Its Compatibility With Marriage?

I recall, some years back, much speculation about the identity of the “prominent politician” with whom, according to your book Out on a Limb, you had an affair.

I don’t care who that was. I just want to know why you sent George McGovern’s campaign a book called Adultery and Its Compatibility With Marriage.

At your apartment, I did not meet you. I was met at your front door by an African-American maid, in full uniform, who took the book and quickly closed the door.

Were you trying to convince Senator McGovern that adultery with you would be compatible with his marriage with Eleanor? Is that how a movie star tries to seduce a presidential candidate, with a book sent to his campaign headquarters?

Couldn’t you have asked for a private meeting with him, about fundraising perhaps, and introduced the subject in private? Did simply putting that book in anyone else’s hands ever succeed in convincing a married person to have an affair with you?

I don’t remember who the idiot was, at the campaign headquarters, who, having failed to do the really intelligent thing and simply throw the book away, didn’t at least put the book in a sealed envelope or some such before sending me to your place to return it, so I can’t write an open letter to that person about that indiscretion.

So, please, after 36 years, would you be so kind as to end my curiosity and bewilderment and tell me why the hell you sent Senator McGovern a book entitled Adultery and Its Compatibility With Marriage?

Your fan and former messenger,
David L. Steinhardt