The Breakfast Table

Mahir and the Diaper-Clad Chat-Room Denizens

Dear Todd,

Yesterday in the letter you filed at about noon you said, “I see that Mahir has finally made Time magazine.” My first impulse was to write back, “Who’s Mahir?” but I felt incredibly stupid for not knowing who Mahir was, which lead me to assume that he had to be either a famous sports guy (pick a sport, any sport) or someone connected to the opera or the ballet. Then, for a second I thought there was a typo involved and you were actually speaking of Maher, as in Bill, from Politically Incorrect. But I couldn’t imagine out why he mattered to you so much that you were gleefully remarking on his inclusion in Time. Not wanting to own up to being either ignorant or unhip, I never said a word, even though I still wanted to in my first letter this morning. Instead, I quietly typed his name into a search engine and found out everything I needed to know. And I only mention this because I now realize that no way was I the only person who had no idea to whom you were referring yesterday. Which, of course, was kind of a relief.

Moving on to weightier matters: Did you read that Michael Jackson is set to star as Edgar Allen Poe in a new movie? The racial discrepancy of this casting choice doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the fact that portraying Edgar Allen Poe as a guy with a high-pitched, breathless voice who has had a ton of plastic surgery would put such a completely different spin on what might have been the psychological issues behind the writing of those scary twisted stories that it just might be impossible to ever really enjoy them again. It’s almost like hiring Richard Simmons to play Ernest Hemingway in A Moveable Feast. Although, now that I think about it more, I would do almost anything for a chance to see that movie made.

Apparently a new study of children’s media habits just released by the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals that children between 2 and 18 spend about five and a half hours a day consuming media … mostly TV. But as I was analyzing the figures, I noticed that the 32 percent of the kids between 2 and 7 who have a TV right in their very own bedrooms watch an average of only three hours nine minutes daily. In other words, as I see it, the more central the TV is to their world, the less they want anything to do with it. This is something I have long suspected, as I have found there is no more effective way to get someone to cut back on their TV viewing than to put them front and center on a TV show. And if you give them a job in the writing department, they may just decide to never even own TV again, period.

I don’t know how the statistics fall as far as the homeless and TV viewing, but according to the front page of the L.A. Times, they are spending a lot more time online. The article reports that “hundreds of homeless shelters across the country have installed computer labs that would be the envy of most high schools.” I guess just because a person doesn’t have a permanent address is no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to give themselves a wacky pseudonym and log on to a chat room full of adult men in diapers like everyone else. But I have friends who keep telling me that online dating is the answer. And as far as I am concerned this is the final nail in the coffin of online dating for me because I am not meeting anyone for coffee at a homeless shelter. Period. I don’t care how single and sensitive they otherwise appear to be.

You know, yesterday when I was snooping around at Monica Lewinsky’s new cyber-handbag emporium I found myself wondering how she had turned into a handbag designer simply by sitting around eating fists full of éclairs at the Watergate and then making crosstown limo rides to the courthouse for grand jury appearances. But today I noticed that Bloomingdale’s is running a quarter-page ad in the front section of the New York Times that says “Meet Designer ‘Shoshanna’ at Bloomingdale’s. Nov. 20, 12-4.” It features a photo of one-time teen-age- girlfriend-of-Jerry-Seinfeld’s, Shoshanna Lonstein, posing in “her own holiday creation–a garnet self striped strapless silk taffeta dress–$255.” What I conclude from this is that apparently surviving a controversial and highly publicized affair with a famous male public figure confers upon a woman not just symptoms of post-traumatic-stress disorder, but also a functioning set of designer skills and abilities equivalent to a four-year bachelor of arts degree. Which means I think we can all look forward to at least a line of whimsical scarves or belts from Marla Maples or Patricia Duff by the end of the year.

Did you read that Italian scientists discovered a gene that exerts major control over the life span of mice? This is considered a milestone in research concerning anti-aging. And I suppose even if they never find the corresponding gene in humans, it will still make us all feel younger at heart to be around so many younger looking mice.