Oh, dear God. You know, as much as I’m amused by the idea of Bill Clinton getting a jillion-dollar advance for his book, and driving conservatives crazy by lining them up around the block for an autograph, and writing 957 pages in the first place…well, I’m amused. I just think it’s funny the way it makes steam come out of their ears and all that, the same way they think it’s funny the way Michael Moore gets all apoplectic about Bush’s National Guard service.
And then I read the first sentence of “My Life” — thanks, Slate, for reading it so I don’t have to — and I just…cringe:
“Early on the morning of August 19, 1946, I was born under a clear sky after a violent summer storm to a widowed mother in the Julia Chester Hospital in Hope, a town of about six thousand in southwest Arkansas, thirty-three miles east of the Texas border at Texarkana.”
I mean. The weather report. The name of the hospital. The name of the town. A handy locator map. This guy is a one-man Gannett newspaper. And it’s not just because I’m a copy editor now, either; this is just flat wrong. Where are the editors? Does no one edit the president? Does no one say “Please, less”?
Another interesting tidbit: Clinton was in DeMolay. I knew a boy in Demolay when I was very young. He took me to see “A Clockwork Orange” when I was 14 and he was…older, anyway. He explained DeMolay, but I never, ever got it. Of course, I was Catholic at the time. Just thinking about it now, I’d bet anything he’s a Mason now. He was just the type.
Oh, well. The predictable second-day story to the Clintonmania first-day stories from the east coast was summed up here: Go to a local bookstore, note lack of Clintonmania. Extra credit: Quote someone saying “I disagree with him morally.” Extra extra credit: Note Republican senate candidate in his own sort of mess of late.
Hum to self: When will they ever learn? Oh when will they ever learn?
Because I’m tired, and because nothing much happened today other than beautiful weather and a lovely June day, here’s a note from Deb. I’ve been here so many times I can’t tell you:
I went to a jewelry party last night. kind of like a tupperware party, except it’s all sterling silver. what a fiasco.
I do not belong at such events, and I have no idea why I went, except that the hostess is a very nice woman with whom I’m fairly friendly. why do I feel such a deep need to be accepted?
I walk into the house and it’s three times the size of ours, immaculate, and flawlessly decorated, so I hate the evening already. there are about 30 women milling around — a few school moms, but mostly stepford wives, all of whom make me feel like a complete skank. perfect rail-thin bodies, perfect summer outfits, perfect blond hair, perfect summer shoes showing off perfectly painted toenails. (I’m wearing too-tight capri jeans and the beaded esprit flip-flops I bought three years ago. no nail polish; as if.)
the stepfords are all huddled around the jewelry table, trying on rings and bracelets and necklaces. I pick up a catalog and page through it purposefully, trying to find one thing I can stand that isn’t outrageously expensive (the $89 purse? the $125 choker? no.). then I overhear this conversation between the most stunning stepford and the jewelry consultant:
stepford: I just LOVE these necklaces. you could wear these with ANYTHING. jewelry consultant: yes. a piece like this can COMPLETELY CHANGE THE LOOK OF YOUR OUTFIT. lots of people don’t think about that. stepford: oh, I KNOW! with this pieces, for instance, you could…
at this point I tune them out, thinking, “you do not belong in this room. order something and flee.” I wasn’t even planning to buy anything, but ordering would get me out of there gracefully a lot faster than NOT ordering. so I pony up $30 for a nice pair of square cubic zirconia posts and get the hell out of there.
I think Deb should write a book myself. Note the lack of a weather report in the above pungent passage.
KCK said on June 24, 2004 at 7:14 am
I’ll wait for the movie – “Willie Does Washington” – Pewee Herman as the lead, Linda Lovelace as Monica and maybe Courtney Love as Hilliary
basset said on June 24, 2004 at 7:57 am
Early in the evening of June 23, 2004, I walked under a clear and darkening sky from my red Dodge pickup with V6 engine, factory CD player, and 71,260 miles into a Publix grocery store in Bellevue, a suburban district of Nashville, Tennessee which usually votes Democratic but has a growing Republican presence, fourteen miles southwest of the state Capitol building near the Cumberland River, and saw, at the front of the store between the frozen-foods aisle and the cash registers, a freestanding and apparently pretty much undisturbed display of Clinton books already marked down 25%.
John Ritter said on June 24, 2004 at 8:00 am
I hate to rain on your parade (obligatory weather report), but the world lost Ms. Lovelace on 22 April 2002. I first saw her creative screen presence in November 1975 at UVa (interesting sidebar: the Commonwealth of Virginia was sued by a Richmond theatre owner because the state was showing the film at the same time they were preventing legitimate theatre owners from doing the same). So please pick another femme fatale for the Monica role and remember that Delta Burke is too old for the spot.
Colleen said on June 24, 2004 at 9:10 am
Oh my. I could have written the stepford email myself. Glad to know I’m not alone in my world of imperfect hair and improperly accesorized skankdom….
Dan McAfee said on June 24, 2004 at 10:03 am
It was ninety-five degrees on Cocoa Beach and I had just finished watching the paramedics treat the unshod feet of a screaming toddler whose mother had pulled him along the white hot sand until his soles were blistered and peeling when I saw a CBS-Amazon.com book vendor, sweat pouring off his beat-red face, making his way down the WASPish American desert of Eastern Florida; the poor man was hawking ex-pres-Clinton’s “My Life” and the wheels of his cart rode so low from the weight of the massive tomes that they barely turned and the cart had become a book sled. “My Life,” the vendor called, repeatedly in his horse, sandy voice, “My Life.” But no one took any notice, the cart/sled grew no lighter. As he neared my chair/umbrella I realized that it really was the ex-president, wearing Bermuda shorts and a Ron Jon’s shirt, suffering through the heat. Our eyes met, then each of us looked away. He moved on, “My Life,” I heard him calling… off, off into the distance.
Welcome home, Nancy. 🙂
deb said on June 24, 2004 at 10:10 am
have you guys ever considered entering the bulwer-lytton contest? if not, you should. seriously.
Pam said on June 24, 2004 at 10:33 am
My neighbor had one of those sterling silver parties and invited me. To get this in context, she has lived next door for 15 years, give or take, and has never invited me inside. Since I sensed that they had fallen on a financial rough spot, I was inclined to accept for the purpose of purchasing a small item (like you deb) and finally seeing the inside of their house (being a little nosey). But I checked the price list on the web first and discovered that I will probably never see the inside of their house. For a person who purchases silver at prices from QVC and eBay, they wanted a king’s ransom for inferior stuff. So I declined the invitation. The moral of this long story. Never, never, ever let the blondies intimidate you in any way. And know this, you are not the only one with naked toe nails! The only time in my life that my toe nails were painted, a friend did it for me while on vacation, and 5 minutes later I scraped my foot on the bottom of the swimming pool and bye bye toe nail polish. If you had stayed at that party any longer, you would have burst out laughing. What kind of conversation is that anyway!? Now I’m so glad I didn’t go to the party…. You went for me and it was everything I expected it to be.
Connie said on June 24, 2004 at 11:53 am
Oh those dreadful parties. The high priced Longaberger baskets especially. And the ridiculously expensive candles. With over 120 employees I seem to be invited to these things regularly. Current invite is for Pampered Chef. For years I have consistently responded that I just can’t get to the parties, but would love to look at the catalog. Occasionally I order something small. As long as I consistently don’t attend no one seems to be offended.
deb said on June 24, 2004 at 11:53 am
thank you, colleen and pam. it’s heartening to know i’m not the only one who feels this way.
i first noticed this phenomenon my freshman year of college. i’d be studying or reading or trying to nap, and all the other girls in my dorm would be prancing around in the hallways, giggling and arguing over what to wear to dinner. at the dining hall! it’s not like they were going to spago, for god’s sake. i had absolutely nothing in common with them then, and i’ll bet they’re all stepford wives now.
Charles Dickens said on June 24, 2004 at 12:09 pm
London. Michaelmas term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snowflakes–gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas in a general infection of ill temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if this day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.
Papa said on June 24, 2004 at 12:10 pm
In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the solders marching and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.
McGee said on June 24, 2004 at 12:15 pm
Another season was ending. The mid-May sun had a tropic sting against my bare shoulders. Sweat ran into my eyes. I had discovered an ugly little pocket of dry rot in the windshield corner of the panel of the topside controls of my houseboat, and after trying not to think about it for a week, I had dug out the tools, picked up some pieces of prime mahogony, and excised the area of infection with a table saw.
peter mayle said on June 24, 2004 at 3:43 pm
there were far too many at my birthday party, and i wouldn’t have invited any of them. i couldn’t see them at first, because it takes a few days for the eyes to open, but they made their presence felt. try having breakfast with a football team, all of them fighting to get hold of the same piece of toast, and you’ll know what i went through. pandemonium, every man for himself, elbows everywhere, and to hell with table manners. being young at the time, of course, i couldn’t imagine that it would cause problems, apart from some bumping and boring at mealtimes. how wrong i was.
Nance said on June 24, 2004 at 3:46 pm
Oh, we’s is having us some fun now.
danno said on June 24, 2004 at 5:14 pm
You think you have it bad, try going to one of those parties given by gay men.
You think stepford wives are scarey??!!
The only saving grace is that alcohol is usually runn’in a plenty and most people end up making fun of the mechandise with catty fun!
peter mayle said on June 24, 2004 at 5:27 pm
“one of those parties given by gay men”? oh, god, i have to know more, starting with: what kind of products are peddled at these parties? give it up, danno. inquiring minds want to know.
Maureen said on June 24, 2004 at 7:28 pm
I live in a coastal suburb of San Diego that has been colonized by the Stepfords. I love the beaches here and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, but these comments reminded me of when my husband and I first came to SD on a recruiting trip.
Andy looked around the fashionable restaurant with all the beautiful people who exercise about 6 1/2 hours a day (you would not BELIEVE how many families we know where neither the husband or wife works) and concluded, “We’re too fat to live here.”
Ogden Nash said on June 24, 2004 at 7:48 pm
Is fun to wear
As see-through plstic
And fun to share
(Let’s not go there)
basset said on June 24, 2004 at 9:04 pm
the bulwer-lytton contest? what’s that?
(clauses, we got clauses… I’m sitting under a bunch of ’em now, all kinds, dependent, objective, subjective, whatever, hanging off the ceiling like sausages in a U-boat passageway. grab one, throw it in. then another. dive. dive.)
deb said on June 24, 2004 at 9:25 pm
the bulwer-lytton contest is an annual competition for the worst first sentence of a fictitious work (as opposed to a work of fiction). it’s named for e.g. bulwer-lytton, the poor wretch who began his 1830 novel “paul clifford” like this:
“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”
gives you a whole new appreciation for charles schulz, doesn’t it?
this entry won the contest in 1983, and it’s still my favorite:
“The camel died quite suddenly on the second day, and Selena fretted sulkily and, buffing her already impeccable nails–not for the first time since the journey began–pondered snidely if this would dissolve into a vignette of minor inconveniences like all the other holidays spent with Basil.”
more wretched excess at: http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/lyttony.htm
Nance said on June 24, 2004 at 10:21 pm
I still say Bulwer-Lytton was nothing compared to Lawrence Sanders.
danno said on June 26, 2004 at 10:47 am
nothing out of the ordinary peter, the same candle-jewelry-in’ferior’ design housewares-kitchen do-dads that all the hetros experience too. but the same principles apply, feeling the need to purchase something that is extremely overpriced and that you don’t need in the first place.
although the occasional sex toy party can be quite fun!! recently attended a hetro sex toy party. my god, you would think that they never had sex before in their lives!!! became quite an amusing event showing hetro women how to use certain items properly!!!