Her Timing Was Impeccable
It's freezing outside. The heating system here at work can barely
keep up with the cold (it's only giving us 62-64 degrees and it's set on 68).
Our public works people were astoundingly remiss at
snow removal yesterday; of the 146 reservations made for Valentine's Day, only
six souls showed up. Meanwhile, the bar was full of four-wheel-drive owners who
were all male, and either a) private snow plowers; b) guys pretending to be
private snow plowers* or c) guys without plows trying out their new toys. All
were doing the "shot and beer" thing; something we generally frown upon,
especially when there's hazardous driving to be done. Their uniforms were nearly
the same; Carhartt coat over hoodie; bluejeans and the requisite L.L. Bean
*I know for a fact that a Fisher Speedcast® eight-foot snow plow costs
upward of $10,000, installed. I will admit that I'm green with envy at the guys
who can afford to keep one around to strap onto their brand-new pickup truck for the sole
purpose of plowing their own tree-lined drives (and perhaps those of close
What was funniest about the entire affair is that I expected some sort of
sporting network to be on the bar televisions. Nope. One was the evening news
(with a tidbit about Anna Nicole Smith) and the other was one of those
tabloid-entertainment-news kinda shows, really, really working the Anna
Nicole Smith case hard.
What on earth were all these seemingly macho, all-American dudes doing
watching the sad, pathetic last gasp of Ms. Smith's fame (the peculiar kind of
fame which constitutes being famous merely for being famous, or infamous, as
some would accuse Ms. Smith of having been)? Surely the real "sports bars"
around our area were playing basketball, hockey, lacrosse, soccer or, lacking a
real game, re-plays of the Super Bowl? Or could it be that even in death, a
buxom blonde beats guys running into each other on some sort of playing field?
Now stay with me whilst I go on a tangent here, by way of explaining my
point. Saturday evening I produced a party at the restaurant in honor of Chinese
New Year for a local news anchor for an affiliate of one of the "big three"
networks. His wife enjoys having this party each year because she has her
Masters in Chinese studies and teaches Chinese for the local school system. The
party ended late, and everyone had quite a bit to drink. Now, this couple's been
doing this with us for five years. It is customary for the host to take the day
after the party, Sunday, off from his news-anchoring duties. No, not this
year. His wife explained to me that a mere four hours after the end of their
shindig, her husband would be at his desk, and would anchor the 7:00 and 9:00
Sunday news broadcasts.
Why was this? If anything, he'd been given a major promotion in the preceding
year and one would think he could take off any day he wanted. Nope. He explained
to me (bleary-eyed) that it's sweeps week. Sweeps week is when the
networks work particularly hard on their ratings (the number of households
watching at any given time), because if they get high ratings during sweeps
week, it's like a license to charge a fortune for their advertising time (until
the next sweeps week measurement). I don't know if sweeps week takes place
quarterly or twice a year. All I know is one can tell it's sweeps week because
there are celebrity cameos on every sitcom; the made-for-TV-movies rear their
ugly heads and all have cost millions of dollars to produce, and the news
programs pull polished, well-filmed stories seemingly out of thin air.
Which brings us back to the sad case of Ms. Smith. Even in death, she was in
the right place at the right time. Her passing no doubt caused the producers of
such dreck as "Entertainment Tonight" to salivate and wring their hands with
glee. This sweeps week they wouldn't have to send helicopters filled with
telephoto lenses over Brad Pitt's house to watch him go swimming. They wouldn't
have to drudge-up and re-hash recent celebrity drunk driving crimes and
juxtapose the accused with footage of celebrities whose lives have "changed
completely since joining A.A." (The last "A" stands, by the way, for
anonymous, you idiots!). No, this year, sweeps week would be a tawdry
biography of the recently passed Ms. Anna Nicole Smith, from her first manicure
to that all-famous "last interview," during which they teased a few errant
blonde hairs from her creamy, porcelain-doll face. That footage is now broadcast
in portions so frequently that perhaps the only thing broadcast more frequently
are GEICO automobile insurance commercials.
Now, we must all feel very, very sorry for her baby. The poor thing is doomed
to grow up without a mother, with a father who beat the rest of the pack to the
DNA test (and the highest-paid lawyer to get a judge to have said test so
ordered), and very, very rich. What price having no mommy? None, in my humble
We must all feel bad for the hordes of cousins thrice-removed, housekeepers,
makeup artists, doggie walkers and others who perhaps feel slighted because in
life Anna had promised them that she'd "remember them" but whom are then
disappointed at the reading of her will. I don't even know if she left a will.
But she left behind a modern-day Marilyn Monroe-meets-Judy Garland-meets-Ivana
Trump story that I assure you will become a major motion picture.
For those of you who find my discussion of Ms. Smith's affairs tasteless so
soon after her passing, I assure you I have written this absent any ill will or
malice for Ms. Smith. Beside, we've all heard worse. By way of example, I leave
you the words of Bette Davis upon learning of the death of her nemesis, Joan
Crawford. Ms. Davis said, "My mother told me only to speak good of the dead.
She's dead. That's good."