THE SHORTEST MARRIAGES IN CELEBRITY HISTORY

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Marriage used to be for a lifetime, but now its duration can often be measured in nanoseconds. When asked to describe their latest attempts at forming a lifetime union, many Hollywood stars described partnerships that were over the moment they “tied the knot.”

“Marriages that used to last milliseconds are now end in divorce within nanoseconds,” commented one divorce lawyer who uses a Crane Supercomputer to track the couplings of his entertainment industry clients. “Scientists have been able to sustain cold fusion for a longer duration than many of the nuptial unions for today’s emerging stars.”

If this trend continues, it’s only a matter of time before divorce precedes the wedding itself. The division of assets, as well as the determination of spousal support and alimony will now begin on the first date. Wedding planners are not worried that marriage is on its way out, for romance has a way of finding a way despite all obstacles. Said one with many celebrity clients, “hope springs eternal in the human breast.”

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Yes, You Will Die

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We will pray for you, if that’s any consolation. You ask “is there any way to avoid death?” In the long run, I’m afraid not. We are all on that journey, like cattle in a chute. We hear the frantic mooing of those who are ahead of us on the one-way path to the slaughterhouse. There, a man who holds a large hammer stands poised to strike.

 

What, you have other plans? Sorry, they amount to no more than wishful thinking. This world is a small part of a much greater cosmos. Will you persist? I can’t promise anything. To tell the truth, I don’t know what awaits us. I only know we’re in the chute. You can moo and kick the walls all the like, but you will move forward. See, you just took another step!

 

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Diaper Man, Cotton Farmer

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If you had told me a week ago that I would be flown to Bangkok for 3 days to play an American Farmer in a Chinese diaper commercial I wouldn’t have believed it. But indeed this is what has happened. The location for the three-day shoot is a rich man’s estate with hundreds of acres of lagoons and gardens with carefully landscaped Lombardi pines. It looks like Versailles transplanted to Thailand. I am hardly the most important person in this project, in fact I am almost inconsequential, but they saw something in me I guess they could not find among the expatriates living in Bangkok.

Or maybe I just had a lucky break and a good Agent. The woman who plays the mother of the cute baby who needs my diapers is an incredibly beautiful young woman. She is so beautiful in that Thai way that a billboard sized picture of her could stop traffic.

The man who owns this estate is probably long dead. There is a bust of him on the landing and a huge oil portrait of him on the second floor, with photos of him and the royal family, but no one in the crew seems to know who he is, or care. We’re just using his house as a location for a commercial shoot.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi. You can be rich enough to own Versailles but your house will be used as a location for a diaper commercial and no one will know who you are.

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Lying for its own sake

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He had been lying for so long that telling the truth seemed unreal. When asked “what have you been doing all day?” his first thought was to make up a bunch of nonsense that would make him seem to be ambitious, inspired, and diligent. When he responded “not much,” it was as if a heavy object had thudded to the floor nearby. The truth is clunky. Not sexy. Not very interesting.

If it weren’t for the necessity of keeping his lies straight in his own mind, he would have an easier time continuing in his chronic dishonesty, but as he got older, he found it harder to remember his own bullshit.

So now, at this advanced age, he was going to try the straight and narrow. He would give it a try. He could always go back to lying if it seemed the only path. As soon as he announced is intention, he began a flurry of lying and exaggerating. If the real answer was two, he would say three, or one, if someone asked if he’d seen a movie he’d say “yes” even though he hadn’t, and before the words left his lips he would worry how he would get out of this one.

This was habitual lying with no motive of gain. Pure compulsion.

Sad Celebrity Breakups

 

It’s always sad when a couple breaks it off, but even more so when they’re celebrities. Then it’s a public tragedy, for we all feel a part of their celebrity family, and thus our kinship is diminished.

It’s bad enough when celebrities die, which they do all the time, because like us, they’re only human. We miss them. We honor them with tributes, pastiches of our favorite film clips starring these newly departed. But when a celebrity couple calls it quits, we lose hope in all possibility for them and for ourselves. We are fatally flawed. If talent, money and fame can’t hold them together, what can?

 

I’m thinking of that glamorous couple that just threw in the towel. She was that mixed-race woman who was once very cute but then gained a lot of weight at the same time she underwent some unfortunate cosmetic surgery. She lost the weight, but there was something permanently “off” about her appearance from that point on. He was a talented musician and writer, but had a substance abuse problem that kept causing him to be arrested and sentenced to a long string of treatment facilities. Every time he graduated from one he would hold a press conference where he would promise that this time he was done with drugs and alcohol for good. Within a few weeks he would be arrested for drunk driving, in possession of a pound of cocaine or methamphetamine, and carrying an unlicensed firearm.

 

Indeed, they had more than the usual amount of troubles that most couples have to endure, but their love could not hold them together. Now they still have their troubles, but not each other.

 

I know there must be something wrong or lacking in me that makes me care so much about people I’ve never met nor am likely to meet. It’s easier for me to care about their problems than my own. This misplaced empathy is what my psychiatrist calls “insanity” and is partially the reason she prescribed such strong medication for me to take on a daily basis. If I skip even one dose I go into painful withdrawal. I can’t sleep. My limbs ache, and if I do drift off I endure nightmares.

 

It is then that I focus on my Brad and Angelina altar. Even though they’ve been divorced for a few years now, the memory of their happy time together gives me hope. I have little plastic statues of them mounted in a landscape of flowers. The landscape is also plastic, taken I believe from a model train set. I mounted this and the figures inside a shoe box, and made a little window at one end so I’m looking through a portal and into their happiness. When I told my psychiatrist about the altar she changed the subject, but I could tell from the face she made she disapproved.

 

Brad and Angelina had been given so much, but even with all that they could not stay together. Now they have everything anyone could ever hope for, but not each other. That makes me deeply sad.

 

I know I should keep the focus on myself. What do I want to do with this wonderful gift of life that I have been given? The fact is, I haven’t got a clue. Deep down I have no ambition. No matter how hard I try, I can’t take an interest in my own life. Who can care what happens to me if I can’t be bothered to do so?

 

Maybe t by focusing so keenly on the lives of celebrities, I’m practicing an empathy that I could someday focus on myself. At least that’s what I tell myself. Of course, I don’t dare imagine myself with a partner. If celebrities can’t pull that one off, what hope is there for me?

 

I’ve considered finding a very needy person who might allow me to take him or her into some sort of domestic partnership because they had few options. A refugee, or an invalid. Someone with a terminal disease and no insurance. But then I thought, how would that raise my self-esteem? Wouldn’t their presence be a constant reminder of my desperation? Wouldn’t holding another desperate person hostage only make me feel worse about myself?

 

Of course it would. So I decided to let that option slide and seek instead more universally acknowledged ways to raise my feelings of self worth. I decided to acquire a certification that would make me an expert. I enrolled in an online school to become a Life Coach. That way I would teach others how to feel better about themselves and in so doing, receive the same reward. And they’d pay me.

 

Life Coaches can earn big money if they sell their services to wealthy clients. One of the first lessons teaches that wealthy people often feel worthless. Their secret shame can be a goldmine to the right Life Coach.

 

The training only took a few weeks of reading online materials and passing simple tests. The readings were like a lot of psychology and sociology…stuff you already knew just rephrased into jargon which made common sense seem scientific and profound. I didn’t mind because I could make that stuff up, too. The real skill came in presentation. You had to be decisive and emphatic no matter how obvious and banal were the things you were saying. You could never stop selling your expertise. You were the expert and they were the client. Both of you could never forget that, not even for a moment.

 

I was surprised to learn how many wealthy people were also hooked on celebrity worship. Many of them had undergone plastic surgery to more closely resemble the celebrities they admired. I met a woman who had endured several surgeries to look more like Heather Locklear. If you saw her at a distance, and her hair was dyed just the right color and she was wearing the right clothes, it was possible to mistake her for the troubled actress who recently had been in the news for mental health issues.

 

My most successful client was a man who thought of himself as a chubby version of Mark Wallenberg. He kept referring to himself as “Marky Mark,” which was the name Wallenberg used in his hip-hop days. Again, in the right light and setting, he sometimes resembled the action film star. When you got to know him, you realized the true depths of his self-loathing, and it made you sad and somewhat frightened, because the enormity of his shame became palpable. 

 

I was losing the ability to cheer myself up, so I stopped taking the medicine my psychiatrist had ordered, and stopped visiting her, as well. Instead, I began to buy costumes inspired by various television shows I fondly recalled. My first purchases were outfits that Florence Henderson wore as Mrs. Brady, avocado and canary yellow, lime green and light pink pant suits.

 

Although I am technically male, I consider gender to be an invented notion of little consequence. Dressing like Mrs. Brady made me happy and nobody seemed to mind when I went out in public. When heads turned it was often in approval, or at least surprise.

 

I was not yet to the point where I dared wear my “happy outfits” to work. It would disrupt the workplace and draw undue attention to myself. When you work in a bank, it’s best to keep a low profile. When in doubt, sit at your desk and pretend to be absorbed by a spreadsheet.

 

I was as surprised as anyone to see large photographs of me wearing the lime-green and pink outfit on the bulletin board in our break room. Some candid cameraman had been following me. Was it a chance encounter, or was I being stalked by a co-worker?

 

This led me to further introspection. Was I an object of derision or a message of hope? No one said anything to me, but I did encounter some whispered conversations which quickly ended as soon as my presence was known.

 

I continue to hold my head high at work or out on the town. Not all of us can be bona-fide celebrities, nor should we wish to be. We live as productively as we can, sure in the hope that integrity is its own reward. If we die alone, so be it. We all ultimately die alone. But the journey is the destination. Brad and Angelina know that. Now, so do I.

 

Democracy is Rare to Non-Existent

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I live in Thailand, a country whose last government was abruptly dissolved by a military coup. The current prime minister is the general who led the coup. When he learned that tourists would find their travel insurance voided by staying in a country under military rule, he had the parliament filled with yes-men and members of the military, who quickly elected him prime minister. He promised elections would come as soon as possible, but that was four and a half years ago.

Is the United States a democracy? Hard to tell. How about Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Venezuela, Brazil. Guess it depends on whom you talk to. I would be more comfortable describing northern European countries as democracies than most African, Asian or Latin American countries. Money talks everywhere, but in some places it fairly screams.

The idea behind Democracy was a noble one. One person, one vote. Anybody could rise the top and be elected to high office. In the United States, it costs approximately twenty-five million dollars to secure a seat in the Senate. Senators earn $175,000 a year. Makes you wonder who they’re working for.

Maybe we should stop pretending and get real. We like to use the word terrorist to describe groups of people who don’t have well-equipped standing armies. We give Israel three and a half billion dollars a year in military aid. The Palestinians throw rocks. Guess whom we call terrorists?

FREE AT LAST

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His diary entry:

She meant nothing to me until I successfully ran away from her, and then she was all I could think about. Until I was free of her I blamed her for holding me back. As soon as I was free I was restless, unable to form a plan of action, and now I constantly find myself wondering what she is doing.

Her grip on me is positively demonic. It’s nothing she’s doing, of course, I’m the demon in this case, pretending that someone besides me is to blame. For all I know, she’s not even thinking about me most of the time. In fact, I’m almost sure she’s not, but that doesn’t make it any easier to forgive and forget.

What I’m waiting for is an apology. And for her to tearfully beg me to forgive her and then we can start afresh. No longer the needy wimp, I’ll be the man she always wanted me to be. Strong, self-assured, willing to take charge.

I’ve heard that I’m too late, that she’s already moved on, finding herself an alpha-male who also happens to be rich as well as athletic. I wish them well. No I don’t, I hope they die in a car crash and the sooner, the better. I can’t be big about this. I have to move on and stop thinking about it. It’s very hard to will yourself to not think about something.

Far easier to distract yourself by thinking about something your find interesting or delightful. In my case, that’s impossible, because I find nothing interests me except the desire to get her back so she can apologize and we can finally be happy.

Petty, vengeful, self-centered, demanding? You bet. I’m not proud of it, but it’s who I am. Again, if all it took was an act of will to change my fundamental nature, maybe I could try to focus all my energies and do it for less than a minute, but it wouldn’t last. I know myself. I would be back dwelling on her after than minute lapsed. Nothing would have changed.

Her diary entry:

Even though he hasn’t contacted me, I know he’s out there, waiting for me to give in to his infantile demands. I don’t want to be anyone’s Mommy, or Girlfriend. I don’t like most men, or want them around. A real man, yes, but there aren’t many of them. There are way too many babies whose feelings are easily hurt.

If there’s nothing in it for me, why should I play their game? Last thing I need is some guy expecting me to make him feel good about himself. If you don’t like yourself, leave me alone. Having two of us not like you isn’t going to make you feel any better.

A lot of this current crop of whiners are writing blogs about their “inner life.” They like to talk a lot about spirituality. They remind me of those people who have been to therapy and are now searching for “intimacy.” Give me a break. Get a job that wears you out so you sleep well at night and drop the search for intimacy.