On the Occasion of Tom Cruise’s Daughter’s One-Month Birthday
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, who together
are known by the term “TomKat,” welcomed
a first baby on April 18: their
daughter, who was 20 inches long
and weighed 119 ounces. The child
was born in a mysterious “L.A.
area hospital,” just down the hall
from Brooke Shields, who gave birth the same day
to a girl named Grier. TomKat dubbed their babe
“Suri” (from the Hebrew ???: “princess”).
She has large blue irises and black tresses
in abundance. Thousands of fans pray
Suri’s “beingness” is completely “on-source”
(to employ real Scientology words).
72-Year-Old Explains Genius of Cargo
Why does a 72-year-old retired English prof lament the death of Cargo magazine? A very basic answer emerges from one of those frequent and enjoyable reader surveys that the Cargo Council asked me to take a few months ago. At issue was what products featured in Cargo I had purchased in the preceding months. Flipping through the buy/save tags from preceding issues, I was surprised at how many there were. I’ll mention a few.
Leading off is a Sony Bravia High Definition TV that Cargo recommended for the clarity and sharpness of its picture. After examining one at Best Buy, my wife, suffering with macular degeneration, agreed. It’s a delight now to see her taking in features on the screen that she missed before. On a less expensive side, there’s the L’Oréal VIVE for men, a thickening shampoo Cargo thought might be good for guys with thinning hair (not limited, of course, to the geriatric set). Along came the suggestion that a close, rough cut might look best on men with follicles few and far between. (You bet I noticed it on the soon-to-be-76-year-old Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby). The Banana Republic T-shirts have the nicest feel of any I’ve ever owned. Cargo’s warning about skin cancer and its increasing frequency in men over 60 did not escape my attention. Their feature on jeans was very welcome: Levi’s, my choice, are inexpensive and socially ubiquitous, a plus for limited-income men who want to get the most mileage out of their clothes.
Now I’m not into a youth kick. I’m a member of AARP, a beneficiary of all sorts of geriatric discounts, and sport an arthritic knee that reminds me on my daily three- or four-mile walk that this rooster is one of the older cocks hobbling around the barnyard. I like to look and feel good, however. Cargo had an unlimited supply of welcome recommendations that cut across age lines in a way few magazines do, and it did it with wit, style and range. They suggested what to buy and how to use or wear it. The surveys were fun: They made me think about my buying habits, a plus for anyone who wants to be careful about how he spends his money. Cargo also responded to e-mails! (It’s over a year now, and I’m still waiting for GQ to answer a product query.) What Cargo knew in targeting an audience that included older guys is that, working or retired, a lot of them have money, and they want to spend it in a fun way to improve the quality of life.
Cargo’s lavish expenditures? Why didn’t Condé Nast give them a warning? More to the point, if Condé Nast was so money-conscious, why did they launch Men’s Vogue, cannibalizing a target audience of one of their own?
If I’m put out about the folding of Cargo, I’m also miffed about some of the unconvincing things that have been said about the magazine. Was Cargo straight or gay? What if the distinction itself, however, is almost meaningless? Nearly a year ago (June 19, 2005), the New York Times feature “Gay or Straight? Hard to Tell” argued that those poles “are melting fast.” Tailors and salesmen are abandoning attempts to determine sexual orientation by style. If, according to The Times, the percentage of men buying their own clothes has jumped from 25 percent in 1985 to 69 percent in 2004, either America has witnessed an astronomical explosion of its gay population (an increasing birth rate here seems unlikely or men have simply become more style-conscious. The issue now isn’t what culture or subculture an item comes from; the issue more simply is Do I look good in this? Am I comfortable with it?
An example: I’ve been using a shoulder bag for nearly two decades now. I can easily carry with me any of the many items any venture outside the house might require. But there has also been one very unexpected advantage. I was complaining years ago to one of my adult sons about the lower back pain I felt on even the shortest drive. “Where do you carry your wallet, Dad?” David asked. Smugly, I replied: “In my back pocket. Where else?” “Get a shoulder bag,” he advised. Presto! Lower back pain vanished. I haven’t carried a wallet in my back pocket ever since. Does the bag provoke stupid comments? You bet it does, but I relish the opportunity for rejoinders. I wear what I like and how I like it, and I don’t give a shit whether someone else thinks I’m straight or gay because of it. I’ve got better things to occupy my mind with.
I must admit, though, that the Nervous Nelson letters in Cargo and elsewhere are certainly amusing. When a guy finds his masculinity challenged, however, by a pink shirt or a near-naked male underwear model (three-piece suits here seem counterproductive), I don’t think it’s the magazine that has the problem. Given some of the frivolous criteria used recently to establish Cargo’s so-called gay orientation, some of the gender experts might look closely at Dolce and Gabbana’s multi-page spread in the March Esquire. Here’s a multiple-choice with as many options as one likes: (A) Are we about to witness oral sex between two men in the presence of (all-male) judges? (B) Is this an oral-sex competition with the contestants lining up for a shot? (C) Is this a still from a hilariously bad episode of Queer as Folk? And/or (D) is Esquire hoping to become Esqueer? Cargo never remotely approached anything comparable.
Alternatives? So far, nothing convincing. Stuff targets the 18-to-30 crowd with near-nude females. Boy, there’s an inventive selling approach—somebody ought to pass that on to Playboy. Men’s Vogue? Pardon my male ego, but I’m not interested in being targeted as an afterthought to a woman’s magazine. Why not Elle: Pour Lui? Better Homes: The Bachelor Pad? Modern Bride: The Groom? For the Nervous Nelson audience, Condé Nast might launch Macho. Aftershave ads would offer the gallon or the more economical five-gallon size, pink would be an outlawed color, and features might include spittoon contests while Macho Man sits impatiently outside a ladies’ dressing room, chewing his tobacco and waiting for “the little woman” to emerge.
I’ll miss Cargo a lot. I won’t miss at all the less-than-convincing explanations of why it vanished. In the meantime, I hope someone with moxie, flair and imagination introduces Cargo2. I’ll be one of the first to subscribe.
George and Hilly
HILLY: We’re living together, we’re enjoying it for the most part—that’s the first step. The next step is, we’ve realized that we both have these issues. I think they’re something we both kind of want to change. I’ve gotten you to the point where you can talk about possibly being engaged—and that we live together. You’ve got me talking and admitting that I drink too much. Yes, it is something that I want to change. But right now, I don’t think that any of these things are going to drastically change. You’re going to continue staying in the apartment and working behind closed doors, and it’s going to be dirty, you’re going to be cranky, and you’re not going to get enough exercise. And I’m going to stay there too and try to be quiet and continue drinking my Sancerre every night until we move into a bigger space.
DR. SELMAN: What did you think of that? She laid it all out.
GEORGE: She’s saying it’s all about the apartment.
DR. SELMAN: You think there’s nothing to it?
GEORGE: I just remember the other night, she just seemed distant, and I had to really interrogate her, practically beat it out of her, saying, “What are you thinking about? What’s wrong? Are you O.K.?” And I finally got her to—
DR. SELMAN: You had to beat it out of her?
GEORGE: Oh, come on.
DR. SELMAN: Those were your words!
GEORGE: I know, on purpose. I had to stop everything, and I’m pleading: “Just tell me what you’re going through, I need to know, I need to know.” And she goes, “I’m thinking about the wicker basket over there. With all your stuff. Please let me go through it and organize it.” That is the opposite of me. ’Cause I don’t—I’m a slob.
DR. SELMAN: This is good. So you’re finding out things about one another, and if you’re going to successfully live together, you need to be able to accommodate one another. So if she’s saying that the apartment is an absolute pigsty and she can’t live in this environment, then why not do something to change it?
GEORGE: I don’t remember your apartment on Charles Street being so clean all the time!
HILLY: No, it wasn’t. I think it’s not so much about it being spic and span, but about things being in a certain place. That’s what my fantasy is: Hopefully I can find us a duplex where you can walk down or up a flight of stairs, you could close the door, and I’d never have to see that space. But our common area and my bedroom I could keep clean, and he could have his own space and I don’t have to occupy any of it.
DR. SELMAN: You would never go in there?
HILLY: If there’s another place to choose from, probably not. He doesn’t like me going into his room-slash-office, because he thinks I’m looking around.
GEORGE: O.K., all that is great. One thing I’d also like is, in the evening, do things besides going out to dinner and watching movies and drinking. That would be the greatest thing. I’ll pay for it! See a play! Exercise.
HILLY: That’s fine, but another thing we have to agree upon is that it can’t start at 10 p.m., because I have to be up at 6. We can’t go for a run around the reservoir at 10 p.m.
GEORGE: O.K., we’ll have to work on that. I think that would greatly improve our relationship.
HILLY: Another thing is that it does involve a little bit of planning, which I know can be scary.
DR. SELMAN: Let me guess: You’re the one who would put this together.
GEORGE: Umm ….
HILLY: I mean, I’ve had people say stuff before. A couple times, we’ve showed up at events—granted, they’re events you’ve invited me to, and I’m always happy to go—but we’ll show up at the end of a sit-down dinner, while everyone’s about to get dessert, and we’ll show up to some black-tie event in sneakers and flip-flops or something, which is fine—
GEORGE: I don’t want to go to anything like that anymore.
DR. SELMAN: Black-tie events in sneakers!
GEORGE: I’m talking about cultural stuff. I have this part of me that fancies himself an aesthete.
[ Long silence.]
GEORGE: We had Easter, and I was really uptight that morning.
HILLY: That was funny. We got ready to go to his mother’s, and the day before, I started looking around—because when you go to have lunch at someone’s house, it’s always nice to bring something. Even if it’s something small, like flowers or anything—just a token of your appreciation. Even if the person throws it away, it’s just kind of a nice gesture. Especially because there are two of us going together. I had something in mind, but I couldn’t find it, so at the last minute I decided to just get flowers, and George didn’t want me to bring them. He thought that we looked silly, like we were dressed up like a dressed-up happy couple on Easter doing something that other couples do.
GEORGE: She was carrying these flowers, and she had that bridesmaid look: “Oh, what a beautiful wedding! Somebody release the butterflies!”
HILLY: When we walked out the door to his building, there was a lady standing on the sidewalk, and she said, “Oh, don’t you two just make a beautiful couple? Have a wonderful day!” And George said, “Ohhh—oowww!”
DR. SELMAN: Did you say that to her?
GEORGE: I put Hilly in a cab and walked across the park by myself. I needed that walk to get into the right frame of mind for brunch, and we ended up having a great time.
DR. SELMAN: You walked across the park by yourself and Hilly took a cab.
GEORGE: I know how that looks. This weekend will be interesting, and I think we have to do it: We’ve been invited to brunch over at some friend’s place—real nice couple and another couple, and all of their kids. Now part of me doesn’t like brunch, and that same part of me doesn’t like kids. Part of me! It’s happened to me a couple of times when I’ve walked down the street and seen a baby and had the perverse thought that I might like to take a bite out of its head. I don’t know where that came from—that’s just part of me. Another part of me thinks that maybe I’d be a good father. What do you think?
HILLY: Oh my God! Oh, I don’t know. I like little kids! I was already thinking about what I could bring them!
GEORGE: The other day, Hilly said—I don’t know what she was doing, probably playing with one of her 10 stuffed animals … who do you have up there in your cubbyhole? Lamb-y?
HILLY: Lamb Chop. Kitty. Peter Rabbit. Piggy. Beasley McScoopington.
GEORGE: So she said she wanted to be a little kid, and I said, “You already are!”
DR. SELMAN: Is that a problem, with all these stuffed animals?
GEORGE: No, I like it.
DR. SELMAN: I get the impression that you love it.
GEORGE: I’ve started sleeping with this Build-A-Bear that has my mother’s voice in it. I swear, you push a little thing on its arm and what does it say?
HILLY: “George, I love you, honey, and I’m so proud of you.”
GEORGE: She plays it all the time.
DR. SELMAN: Maybe that’s why he’s so irritable.
GEORGE: No, I like it and all the stuffed animals.
HILLY: “George, I love you, honey, and I’m so proud of you.”
DR. SELMAN: Well, you know, we have like 10 minutes left. Maybe we could come up with some concrete steps that we can take that can immediately ameliorate some of the problems, to make life better until he finds a new apartment.
GEORGE: A game plan!
DR. SELMAN: Even if we can improve on one or two things, that might make a big difference. Maybe each one of you can do one thing differently that might help the other. Just one little thing.
DR. SELMAN: Or each one of you could request that the other person work on one thing.
GEORGE: I would like you to blow up and scream at me one time—
DR. SELMAN: But how is that going to improve your life living together—
GEORGE: I would like her to crack the whip—
DR. SELMAN: —if she started screaming at you?
GEORGE: Just once! Scream at me once, say, “I’m not going to take this bullshit anymore!” Sometimes I think she can’t do that because of the Prozac, because that kind of numbs you.
DR. SELMAN: You want her to become more assertive.
GEORGE: Yes, but maybe that happens after you get married. That’s when they start cracking the whip, controlling you and all of that jazz. That’s when she turns into the battle-ax.
HILLY: No, I think if you look at my mother and father, I’m my father, basically. My mom blows up and yells and is constantly saying what’s on her mind and the way things should be. My father’s the opposite. He listens, takes it all in and tries to ameliorate everyone and avoid conflict.
DR. SELMAN: George is like your mother?
HILLY: Very much. She asks me what I’m thinking, and asks me and asks me and asks me—and as soon as I finally tell her, she criticizes whatever it is that I admit I’m feeling.
GEORGE: ’Cause she’s trying to make you a better person and she cares about you.
HILLY: I know one! I would like for you, between now and the next session, to go on at least three apartment-seeking trips with me.
GEORGE: Just three? O.K., deal. I would like—
DR. SELMAN: Now what will each one of you offer, to make things better, based upon what’s been talked about today?
GEORGE: Maybe if you were to do some marathon cleaning, you could tell me, say, “Hey, on Sunday from 4 to 7, I’m going to do all this ironing and teapot-polishing, so maybe that would be a good time for you to get out of the apartment.” And I’ll go to Café Mozart and hang out there for a couple hours.
DR. SELMAN: See, I think that’s a practical solution. In other words, there will be a set time that Hilly can go in there and do what she wants.
DR. SELMAN: So you’re going to agree to arranging your respective schedules so there’s a time she could really go to town on your apartment. What are you going to do, George?
GEORGE: I’m going to stop being a dick and complaining about her and diminishing her and being mean.
DR. SELMAN: O.K., so you agree to stop being a dick?
GEORGE: Yes. Before I turn into the dick, I’ll go for a nice head-clearing walk.
DR. SELMAN: O.K. Hilly, what can you do, just based upon what George has said today?
HILLY: I’ll be more vocal and honest about things, and I won’t do stuff without telling you—like taking $20 out of your wallet.
GEORGE: That was upsetting. It’s not a good thing if I take my wallet into my room every night and hide it from you. And I’d like it, in the long term, if in the evening you’d run around the reservoir. And in the longer term, if you’d switch from Prozac and Sancerre—
DR. SELMAN: But you’re not—
GEORGE: —to a bong hit and a Xanax.
DR. SELMAN: George, that’s not a reasonable request. You’re not her doctor. It’s not reasonable for you to tell her to change her medication.
GEORGE: All right.
[ To be continued.]
Prior Articles: George and Hilly published 05/08/06 George and Hilly published 05/01/06 George and Hilly published 04/17/06 George and Hilly published 04/03/06 George and Hilly published 03/20/06 George and Hilly published 02/6/06 George and Hilly published 01/23/06 George and Hilly published 01/16/06 George and Hilly published 12/26/05 George and Hilly published 11/14/05 George and Hilly published 11/07/05 George and Hilly published 10/24/05 George and Hilly published 10/17/05 George and Hilly published 10/10/05 George and Hilly published 10/03/05 George ’n’ Hilly, Back in Couples, Turn on the Doc published 09/26/05 But Should We Get Married? Part III published 08/29/05 But Should We Get Married? published 08/15/05 Should I Get Married? My Hilly Joining Me In Couples Session published 08/08/05