Commentary 22 Mar 2008 09:05 am
This is my print column from March 20, 2008, published in The Alliance Review:
It’s a sad state of affairs, no pun intended, when the peccadilloes of New York’s governor shove the Iraq war, civil unrest in the Middle East and the rotten-tomatoes economy off the front page.
A talking head (voice?) on National Public Radio said now-former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s fall — does anybody else sing “At Spitzer, our world revolves around you!” whenever you hear his name, or just me? — was especially fascinating because he was a bully in Albany, a crusading do-gooder exposed as a hypocrite.
That has nothing to do with it. Most of us were simply caught up in the seediness, and would have been equally absorbed if Spitzer were meek and mild or a known womanizer, like that Democrat who held the land’s highest office and whose wife is making a largely unsuccessful attempt to enshrine him as the first first lady to be a gentleman. (Bill Clinton is many things, but he’s no gentleman, I deadpan in my best W.C. Fields imitation.)
The nation has its latest instant celebrity in Ashley Alexandra Dupre, the call girl whose services Spitzer paid thousands to secure. She’s selling her music singles — “What We Want” and “Move Ya Body” — for top dollar on the Internet, her MySpace page received more than 7 million hits last week, and Penthouse has offered her $1 million to pose naked. Her 15 minutes of fame could net the 22-year-old drug user millions, all because of her most famous john.
Still, a different john caught my attention last week; the one attached to a Kansas woman who sat on her boyfriend’s commode for two years. (How’s that for the royal flush of non sequiturs?)
You probably read or heard about the toilet incident. It was one of those head-scratchers that radio deejays share between songs like “What We Want” and “Move Ya Body,” the kind of bizarre nugget tossed into television newscasts somewhere between, say, a double homicide and the latest cold front. Emergency workers removed the woman from the porcelain throne with a pry bar because her skin had grown around the seat. The boyfriend called for help when he realized — after 24 months! — that she wasn’t going anywhere. Well, she was going in the toilet, apparently, but nowhere else.
I’m sure the woman in question is troubled, and I don’t mean to be insensitive (which is what people always say before they are insensitive), but the whole sit-on-the-pot-for-years gig conjures vivid images, not of this specific couple but of any two people trying to make a relationship work when one of them won’t leave the bathroom. For example:
Feb. 14 — Our intrepid couple enjoys a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner and a movie (courtesy of a 24-inch TV on a rolling stand) in the bathroom.
Easter — They color eggs in the bathroom sink, he with one of those wire contraptions that comes in Paas kits, she with an egg suspended on a spool of baling wire to reach the sink from the commode.
July 4 — He adorns the toilet with small U.S. flags that flutter in the breeze from the ventilation fan above. That night, he opens the window shades so they can see the fireworks.
Halloween — Neighborhood kids climb a flight of stairs and knock on the bathroom door to get miniature Snickers bars and lollipops dropped in their treat bags.
Christmas — A Charlie Brown-style Christmas tree lights the otherwise darkened bathroom as the couple listens for the Plop! Plop! Plop! of each tiny reindeer hoof on the roof overhead.
Everybody was adjusting well until the house’s second toilet stopped working. Then he had to make a tough choice. The relationship lost.
Maybe she thought flagpole sitting was out of fashion. Maybe she read “Horton Hatches the Egg” at an impressionable age. If the Seuss book is ever a movie (like the recent “Horton Hears a Who”), she is a shoo-in for the role of the elephant who sits on the nest through thick and thin.
As for Mayzie, the worthless bird who flies off and leaves Horton stuck with the mess, maybe they could get Eliot Spitzer.