Lost The Bet On When It Would End, But Hey...Nobody's Perfect...
From the department of “Who didn't see this coming?”...
Nearly three and half years after they swapped “I dos” at their corporate-sponsored wedding, Star Jones and Al Reynolds are calling it quits. The National Enquirer reports the legal diva sent Al his walking papers a month ago.
A rep for Jones says the report is false, but the Enquirer goes on to say, “They hadn’t been seeing eye to eye for months and had already spent a great deal of time apart,” a friend of the couple told the Enquirer. “Finally, Star decided it was over. She told Al at the end of January that he had 30 days to get his act together or ‘get out.”
The Enquirer spoke to another insider who confirmed the breakup and revealed Star’s intention to make it permanent. “Star is planning to divorce Al.” As for reason behind the split, the source added, “I think Star felt Al had spent their marriage riding her success while she did all the heavy lifting.”
The MSNBC report from above is pretty kind and steers away from the delicious, gossipy luridness of what was going down—or rather...NOT going down between the endsville-headed pair. The 'round-the-way, hard-core grime can be found in other places...
As tempting as it is for Pollyanna Jones to turn all of this heartache into a refreshing batch of divorceade, the New Star, a persona refined on her short-lived Court TV talk show, would never seek to pair the end of her marriage with crass sponsorships. Much to media and trial-watchers' chagrin, there will therefore be no free samples of Cinnabon, Herbal Essences, and OUT magazine distributed during custody hearings over the fate of the couple's only child, their much fussed-upon maltese, Pinky.
I freely admit to being in a circle of friends who casually took bets on how long the marriage would last. My number was eighteen months. Turns out Star and Al lasted a little more than twice that.
Yes...a lot of Black folks had money on when this square-wheeled “Le Car” of a marriage would wind up in a ditch belching smoke and flames.
Now, why do I focus on this salacious little story? Well, number one, my lower right jaw feels like Smokin' Joe Frazier's been blasting left hooks into it all day. (Mmmmmmmmmm. Gum surgery...) and a gossip tidbit is easier on the brain to write on than politics and all that. And two, it's a tawdry tale a lot of folks I roll with had been shaking their heads over even before the marriage took place.
It was a real-life season of “Flavor of Love” embarrassingly playing out for all the world to see. The kind of thing that average, working-stiff Black folks cringe at because of the stupidity's public spectacle. Good old American racial myopia brings that guilt in Black folks on. Against common sense, we get the feeling that the race as a whole is judged based on the spectacular flame-outs of our celebrities. We're looked at through the O.J.-violent-n*gger prism—when we're not being cast through the 24-hour clown persona of a Flavor Flav. The Bill O'Reilly “Where's my mother-fuckin' iced tea?” ramble comes from ancient stereotypes, but just as much from the crack-infused, Tourette's-ravings of the unplugged and unhinged Whitney Houston we discovered via her “reality” show.
So yes, we cringe when the more prominent folks in “the community” proudly and loudly shit the bed for all the world to see. People who you think would be intelligent enough to make better choices or just have the common sense God gave a gnat. Star's nuptial flame-out was especially ugly as it was just another one in a long line of “WTF were they thinking?” public relationship gaffes that give folks cover to demean us as fucking idiots as a whole when our so-called prominent folk self-implode.
My friend “T” calls this strain of the problem “The D.A.D. Syndrome”. “D.A.D.” standing for “Dumb Ass Diva.
“Fucking Judy Garland...she couldn't see Vincente Minnelli didn't bat exclusively for her team? Then that Mark (Herron) dude. The guy was living with his lover when Judy met him, and when they broke up, he went back to living with a dude, Hel-o-o-o-o-o-o! Dumb! Then Liza, her daughter hooks up with Peter Allen? “I Go To Rio?” You think she'd have learned, but I guess it's hereditary because 25 years later, who's she down the aisle with—David Gest! David-fucking-Gest? These are supposed to be smart women! I mean, look at Terry McMillan. A writer. Got her finger on the pulse and whatnot. Speakin' to the inner hurt sisters feel. And she hooks up with a dude who everybody was tellin' her was absolutely not the right man for her—then immortalized the mess of a relationship in a movie! 'Your man is gay! Your man is gay!' 'La-la-la-la-laaaaa! I can't hear you!' Look what happened—the shit was true. Right down to his gaming homegirl outta her money. Now Star comes along...with big, gay Al! And everybody's telling her tacky ass, 'Your man is gay! Your man is gay! Trust me on this—I slept with him and my name is Ralph!' Does she listen? After Terry's hell? She's a former prosecutor, right? Smart woman, right? Bzzzzzzzzt! Nope! Marries him, trashed her rep on “the View” with her tacky-ass 'Hook me up sponsors!' wedding to the bum. Now look at her. A laughing-stock. A total laughing-stock behind this...shit. She knew better. Everybody with a brain knew better. Still...
Our talk went on to the “whys” of these situations. Why make such obvious and clearly destructive relationship choices? I know that deep down, everybody just wants someone to love them. That's as old as time immemorial. But you don't pick an over-the-top loser to be that love provider, do you? Unless as “T” said, you have deep, deep self esteem issues and subconsciously insist on being perceived by others as the one in the relationship who is the more committed, the more loving one.
The W.H. Auden poem “The More Loving One” popped into my head when I thought about that idea. I used to see it posted in subway cars all the time for the city's “Poetry In Motion” campaign, and the words stuck with me...
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
It's a crazy power-play. A way to as Jerry Seinfeld put it to maintain “Hand”—as in the upper hand in a relationship. You pick a loser who doesn't love you and is incapable of loving you as much as you love him, because in the end, they make you look good. Steadman. Jonathan. Al.
I know it. Behind every proud and preening macho man is a scared little boy for whom women are still in many ways a dark and scary mystery. There was a lot of that in me. And it manifested itself in the choices I made in mates. I didn't go for the sane and sedate types who were easy to live with—no. My choices were the most difficult and high-maintenance types possible. The more ornery the diva the better. Temperamental singers. Mercurial performers. Batshit actresses. Not the sane ones in those already tough fields, but the most glamorous, attractive and damn-near certifiable of the lot. I nearly married an opera singer for whom a falling pencil was an avalanche of rocks that kept her awake. Who would not talk to me but wrote long, elaborate notes on audition or performance days lest her voice be abused by asking me to pass the honey or some such trifle. Who had a meltdown because a particular hair scrunchie of hers was missing and the outfit she was wearing to a newspaper interview absolutely required it.
Yeah, I got the subway to 72nd Street to Love Pharmacy to get the particular scrunchie. But dammit, she was mine. I was proving my mettle by dealing with the demanding one's whims. I was “the more loving one”.
My pathological desire for people who I knew were no good for me even extended to pop culture. On the TV show “Girlfriends” I was smitten with the selfish, creepy and mean “Toni Childs” as played by Jill Marie Jones. On Will & Grace, it was the drunken, doped-up, rambunctious she-devil Karen as played by the yummy Megan Mullally who floated my boat big time.
Lord love a mess.
We often make the choices we make for reasons. We're not necessarily always unwitting dupes of crafty Svengalis out to steal our love. I know I wasn't. And people much smarter and more successful than me do the same silly stuff in very public forums. This is about control and wanting to be known as “the good person” in the relationship. Now granted, my choices weren't quite as extreme as Terry's and Star's—picking, and in essence buying someone who wasn't pre-disposed to be into 'em any-damn-way. My paramours were women who were massively difficult (and who I admittedly got a charge out of trying to “tame”.)—not posers who were gaming me for a payday while living double lives “across the fence”. But in the end, I wanted the same sort of thing Terry and Star wanted—Seinfeldian “Hand”. I spent some time in therapy dealing with that issue, and my therapist—no crafty “Dr. Melfi”, he—didn't take long before noting and calling me on my “pattern” and strongly suggested that I train my sights on partners who were not quite so “selfishly intense”.
“Try a regular person for once.— he said. “There are pretty and intelligent women out there who won't scream at you and throw hairbrushes through aquariums at you. You may even find you'll like them.”
He was right.
How, if I could get help for my latent relationship stupid, (inexpensive help too, in spite of his 'round-the-corner-from Carnegie-Hall-office) is it possible that these bold and dynamic (not that that makes them great people, mind you) women can't seem to get their inner “Partner-ometer™” calibrated better? As “T” would later say “The 'D' can't be that good, can it? I mean, damn!”
My friend “S” won the circle's bet on the marriage's length. She figured on three years—with the last year lived mostly apart. Pretty damned close. Down to the living apart. She missed on her guess that Star would catch Al in bed with the cable guy, or the pool boy, or an “I'll show you!” Steadman Graham.
At least...I hope she missed.