Friday, January 18, 2008

Hill and Bill

Tyra Banks has gone from so-so supermodel to reality TV mogul to talk-show host and she's amazingly good at these latter two.

Tyra has been crowned the "new" Oprah and since Hillary Clinton can hardly appear on Oprah's couch, since Oprah is campaigning for Obama, she did an interview with Oprah Lite. And, she told Tyra things the big "journalist" tv types didn't get out of her.

It's been ten years since the Monica Lewinsky debacle and Hillary admitted the whole thing was deeply embarrassing and painful, but never doubted her husband's love. She said she thought long and hard about it all and did what she felt was best for her family. She said only you can know what to do in a circumstance like this.

This feels true. Her marriage is obviously a complicated one but maybe not more complicated than any long relationship -- life, as you live it longer, becomes something other than you thought it would be. It becomes more filled with nuance, greyness, different kinds of compromises and opportunities. I can fully understand that her friendship with her husband seemed like something worth keeping. Sex is quite another thing.

That he saw fit to humiliate her is really the thing that's hard to forgive but then a man cornered between rocks and very hard places is not often known to think clearly and soul-fully. My answer to the queries, were I Monica, would have been very different. I would have said sure I boasted to a colleague. Wanted her to think I'm fabulous. Didn't mean a word of it. I would lie, in other words, for my own sake and his. But mostly for my own sake. To be frank, having done Clinton a favour (on top of having done Clinton) would have endless pay-offs.

A friend who wrote well about the Monica affair says she was a young girl threatened with huge jail time for perjury; she was threatened with treason essentially, and could not possibly be expected to do anything but what she did do. I defer to that take on things, though as a former young woman myself I'd say if you have the temerity to blow the President you can probably come up with a time-buying fib in a hurry, too.

If I were the President I would say, or try to say, none of your business, this is between my wife and me. And then I would have told her the truth and would NOT allow her to defend me publicly, only to show her up as a fool days later.

As in many things, the real issue was not the sex but the lying. That's where the disrespect more fully resides. In other words, he betrayed their friendship. Having a kink, wanting a different kind of sex, sex -- that's a much slighter thing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

American History

So, America has the chance to make history but which will it make? Will it allow a woman to be a contender for the presidency (an ambition every BOY could have, that's the American Dream) or a black man (make that every WHITE boy).

The platform for both seems to be "change", whatever that means under the circumstances, though Hillary Rodham rebirthed to Clinton is certainly of the past world. But so is Barack Obama, in that he is the spitting image of....Bill Clinton in a way, with his flashy charisma and great way with a word. And, for being just that bit black.

I am hoping for Hillary. That she is less flashy makes me think she is more about-the-business, and her tearful welling up when she thought she was out and for no good reason spoke to me of a kind of passion you don't often see in politics.

Slick Barack seems a bit slick.

For the first time, US politics, or any for that matter, is as interesting and as much fun as your average team sport. Bring it on.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Other Woman, Second Lady

There are some faces that make you think hmmm, I guess she must have a great personality. Carla Bruni is like that. A model, fashion if not role, she has never held much appeal aesthetically though she does look nice with lipstick on. And yet this hard-faced and frankly rather plain woman has beguiled some of the top fashion designers (who selected her to walk their runways) and bedded some of the most elusive and powerful men in the world.

Now she's on to the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. After either a whirlwind affair (if you believe they met when they say they did, a very short distance from the end of his marriage) or after some meeting at some point in the more distant past (which has something to do with the final departure of First Lady, First Edition and more likely if you were not born yesterday) she is poised to marry his shortness.

The French are lovers of course, though paradoxically they seem most cool and aloof in real life. Still, the amorous goings-on in the presidential palace have caught the imagination of media there and have caused a stir, we are told, diplomatically, in that -- what IS the role of the official shagee?

The former Mrs. S. made no bones about the fact her husband had affairs, and so did she; she was perfectly clear that she was participating in his political life on sufferance for which a price would be paid, and ran off in the first instance. For this I applaud her -- the political life was never her choice, and if she was going to put up with it she certainly was NOT going to put up with his hypocrisy. There would be no pretend-happy family act. She did not feel she had to be humiliated for the sake of her country.

I also applaud Carla and would love to meet her if only to see one of the very few women capable of living the way a rock star of the male type does by nature. She and Kate Moss would seem to be that rare breed of totally unapologetic free spirits who live the way we all would if we had either courage or cash. Cash may in fact be a big part of it -- it's a lot harder to live as you were meant to when people (women) can be fired for being too sexy or "inappropriate", which has happened to more than one strong woman I know. Carla is described as "bionic" and a "killer" and I'd like to see that in a skirt. I've only ever known that type in boxer shorts.

I also applaud that she is not hiding. She is not lurking in the hallways or the presidential loo, waiting to service her leader in chief. She is not furtively dropping gifts off to his assistant with a wink. She is out there in the very public, she has apparently remade a room of her own within his official residence, she has already accepted the pink diamond of his fashionable intentions (the ring is Dior, created by Victoire de Castellane, a great artist of gems).

For certain this turn of events will irk the first Mrs. Sarcoma (sic). It is hell to be replaced, and to be replaced by someone who looks a little like you do, or did when you were her age is super-hell. As is being replaced within a heartbeat.

Still, what do we know of this? Mrs. S the First is a strong and sure woman who plays by her rules without apology -- it will be many generations before we see a presidential divorce in America. Mrs. S the Possible Second is fascinating, seeming to have weathered horrible worlds with aplomb, these being fashion, the life of a rock-star girlfriend, music (she's got a couple of albums to her credit) and now political life. She does what she does and the boys adore her at least for a moment, which is all we can hope for in most cases anyway.

No, the weak link here is him, the President, who runs a country but trades in capital R relationships within weeks, who is marrying someone new when the ink is not yet dry on his divorce though the divorce is from the mother of his child. Not very respectful to that little boy to say the least. But more than that -- he shows himself to be capricious, a dumb romantic (he has to MARRY them all?) and a little distracted from his job.

Frankly I don't know what Carla sees in him.

But HER, she is someone I'd like to get to know.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Bachelor

My "plus-one" standard-issue, chronically single, formal-event-partner and otherwise fairly decent single heterosexual man-friend is, despite himself, a hot commodity. And I resent that.

I am deeply jealous of him. As far as I know he is a serial attempted-relationship sort, he dates I think but nothing too serious, not for years. In fact, all those other shadowy women might be just like me, those who call him up when a party seems to require a balanced set of people, or when a beer with someone smart and knowledgeable would be a more fun way to end the week than a piss-up with the work mates. Of this I am not envious. But every friend I have has a "great woman" and someone "fabulous" that they want to set him up with.

A single man is a rare event. A single woman not so much. A single man is hugely valuable -- and, as Jane Austen says, it is a proven fact that if he is single and can both spell cat and earn something like a living he must want to hook up. Austen didn't put it quite that way but you get the drift. A single woman? A blight, a danger, pathetic, under suspicion of being odd or needy or deranged in some way. A challenge, desirable? No. No, that is the purview of my single buddy.

And let's look at that. He has a job. He is smart. He is moderately handsome, but these things are all a matter of taste once you move past GQ boys. He owns his own home. He apparently can cook his own dinner. So far so ordinary. He is always up for a dinner party or an event; though truth to tell he will never show up with so much as a bottle of bingo even when specifically tasked with bringing some wine. He will never grab the cheque and does not ever play that "no let me" game when it arrives. This indicates to me a cheapness of spirit that foreshadows an awfully dull life, once he's nabbed.

So what is the big appeal? Why are my glamorous and generous girlfriends still alone on a Saturday night? Why, for that matter, is a bombshell like me?

We can say women are more discerning but they are not. A cad will always have a date, even a documented and certified bastard. Are there simply more women in the world? A glance through the stats shows that female births slightly outnumber male, sometimes. So what gives?

I have no idea why the world so values a single man so much more than a single woman. My own personal rebellion is such that frankly, I remove myself from the race. Life to me is best spent in pursuit of creativity, beauty, enjoyment and not in the search for the significant other. In fact, if I am completely honest, the men I love best are those who are passionate about something else, not me, though that is handy. What is more appealing is if they are intense about their work, movies, music, art; if they are completely at peace pursuing their own interests they are one million times more interesting to me. I have to assume the same would go for them.

After all, how compelling is it to feel like quarry? Better to meet a kindred soul, a curious mind, a passionate heart with whom you can explore the world of ideas, interests, places and people.

Is my friend that sort? No, I don't think so. He is a blank slate upon which dreams are built. To date they have gone nowhere.

And my single friends seem to be having a great time laughing and pouring another glass of good wine that one of them generously thought to bring.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Choosing the wrong guy

I used to know a man who was really nice. Maybe a little whiny. And, stocky (in fact, his last name was Stock. People become their names - never go to a dentist named Payne) which I never thought was a bad thing, though he did. He was cute, in that teddy-bear way, but not causing any trouble to GQ models.
Sadly for him, he had great taste in incredible women and only ever had crushes on extremely gorgeous ones, and thus always had his teddy-bear heart broken because none of these Amazons or supermodels thought of him as anything but the guy who could be counted on to fetch the coffee.
Being whiny, he whined a lot to another gorgeous woman who saw fit to friend him and she got fed up one day and said look, you need to understand your level. Understand where you STAND in the scheme of things. Gorgeous picks gorgeous, smart picks smart, medium-looking picks medium-looking. You need to adjust your taste.
I can't, he said. I like what I like.
When you think about it, she was essentially saying something as inane as stop being gay.
Sadly I always like he who is wrong. The bigger difference I think is even when he is revealed as deeply, sick-makingly WRONG I still figure he's pretty great.
My friend Katie could easily be a crush of my pal Stock's; she is lucious and has the kittenish look of a slightly rounder Sienna Miller. Better yet, she has incredible style, is terrific at her glam job and loves to have fun for the sake of good old fun -- there is absolutely nothing in it but the love of life. There are very few who can have funny, spirited, "let's try it" fun with a light heart, without one thought to what other people think or if she's the prettiest girl in the room or if someone is cutting your grass. And, without any guilt or regret the morning after, regardless of the hangover.
While I am not quite old enough to be her mother I am certainly old enough to be her babysitter and despite the generation gap we suffer the same issue. "Why am I always the one before the one?" she says. "I'm a good girl, I'm actually good, why am I always the bad girl before you hook up with the good girl?"
This is a mystery, and it is interesting that even the gorgeous suffer from Stock's syndrome of loving the wrong...type.
Or is it that?
Until she met and married Guy Ritchie, Madonna was one of us. Bloody hell, Warren Beatty, the world's most famous lothario, went domestic after a throw-down or two with Madonna, flipping her to be husband and daddy of about ten kids. It is enough to give god himself pause. (That said, Annette Benning is pretty fabulously terrific so he hasn't exactly SUFFERED for his choice.)
Maybe there is no hope, or is it nothing but hope? for those of us burdened with a brave heart. Ah, brave, maybe it's just impractical. Whether it kills us or not, there is at least no compromise. We want what we love, not what the outside world would say is appropriate. Even if the object of our desire is not so ... uncompromising.