The Breakfast Table

Monica Speaks to Today’s Woman

Dear Todd:

OK, L.A. is wacky and maybe a little too proud of it. But only the New York Post would even dream of running an item like the one in “Page Six” today about how Don Hewitt (the executive producer of 60 Minutes) and Christie Brinkley were both seen at the grand opening of a new Kmart in the Hamptons, “loading up on bargains.” I’m keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow they’ll tell us what some of those bargains were. (The smart money is on giant containers of cheese fish.) But the bottom line is that it is nice just to realize, in a kind of “We Are the World” sense, as we come upon another holiday season, that there are things that even Don Hewitt and Christie Brinkley can enjoy doing together.

There’s a great local story on the front page of the L.A. Times today that is sure to hit all the big newscasts and the radio talk shows by this evening. The female half of a 25-year marriage, “a relationship so close that they shared an electric toothbrush” (Yuck. I hope they only mean the handle part), apparently filed for a quickie divorce from her husband just 11 days after she was so busy that she forgot to tell him that she won $1.3 million in the California Lottery. Cut to a couple of years later when her puzzled husband, who had no clue as to her motives for leaving the marriage so hastily (but if he had asked me I would have said “Give a little thought to the area of dental hygiene”), accidentally intercepted a piece of her mail that mentioned a few of the lottery details. The upshot is that he took her to court and now a judge has ruled that because she “acted out of fraud and malice” when she “violated state asset disclosure laws” during the divorce proceedings, she must turn the entire lottery win over to her ex. Ouch, that must sting. She is claiming the only reason she never mentioned the big lotto win to her once beloved was due to an “ignorance of the law.” You’re probably scoffing now, but I, for one, believe her. There are so many painful emotional and logistical details surrounding the nightmare of a divorce–the search for good counseling, the brouhaha about how it will affect the kids–that no one ever really talks publicly about the ways in which people are often forced to part with a lot of their money. Now it’s out in the open, I guess.

Elsewhere in the L.A. Times’ “Southern California Living” section, there was a brief review by “fashion experts” of Monica Lewinsky’s new handbag enterprise. It gave the Web site address, so I couldn’t resist spending a little time there examining photos of her “purses and totes,” each one “adorned with the unique rose-bordered label that says ‘Made especially for you by Monica.’ ” (Wear it with pride!) Come with me now as we revel in the “Garden Patch”: “a deep sage green velvet bag with its outer avocado patch pocket,” priced at $70 and $90. Or luxuriate in the “Bohemian Baroque”: “terracotta, gold, salmon, and maroon chenille tapestry that is reminiscent of an earlier century” (I wonder if she knows which one). Cost to you the consumer? $110 and $130. (But sorry ladies, all sold out!) Apparently, we learn in the Web site text, Monica was breathing life into these masterpieces as she underwent a “reawakening of my creative senses” during “an almost undendurable time.” Which brings us to her wish for us. “I hope that you recognize the importance of being free spirited with your creativity,” she writes. Making me think that she may have learned nothing at all from her big ordeal. I’m not sure if the “being free spirited” angle has really worked all that well for her so far.

Actually my favorite part of the Web site is where she writes (under Product Description), “Today’s woman needs both practicality and durability en vogue.” En vogue? Who talks like that? I think what we have here is a rare glimpse of the “more mature Monica,” the one that she used to exercise when she would offer Bill Clinton her ideas concerning educational reform. (Sadly, I can’t recall whether those more enlightened policy discussions took place before or after the usual free-spirited stuff.) And since she brought up the issue of “practicality,” from a practicality standpoint alone it surprised me that all of her purses are “Dry Clean Only.” She of all people should be endorsing a line of fully washable products. If ever there was a person who has learned firsthand about the difficulties of having to drag things to the dry cleaners, it would certainly be she. In fact, the least she could do is throw in a bottle of free stain remover for your hundred bucks.

I’m back to reading more string theory now.