Bad Boys (and Girls)
When the fabric of society has deteriorated to the point that I am asked to comment on its collective moral decay, I think we can safely assume the apocalypse is near. This was my immediate conclusion when I was recently invited to be a guest on talk radio. Now settle down-no lesbians were spanked in the airing of this broadcast-we were simply there to respond to the day's hard news, so to speak. The topic was "men behaving badly." This particular radio host wanted my enlightened commentary on Frank Gifford's funniest home video; President Clinton's perils with Paula; and Marv Albert's alleged oral pecadillos (leaving out Michael Kennedy's adventures in babysitting in the interests of time). Even New York divorce lawyer Raoul Felder was quoted as referring to these guys as "moral imbeciles." (Uh, "Hello Kettle. This is the Pot calling.") The first thing we learned was that nobody cared about Frank Gifford or Marv Albert. Callers had to be virtually grilled on the two of them before they'd reluctantly admit, after careful reflection, that they had no opinion. The president was an entirely different matter. One gentleman called in to register his complaint that he had never seen such moral decline in the government in general or the presidency in particular until Bill Clinton was elected. Now, let's all pause a moment while I blow the dust off my history degree. HELLO! Excuse me, but does anyone remember that June 17 marked the 25th anniversary of a little incident we in the information biz informally refer to as WATERGATE?! I was SEVEN for Christ's sake, and even I remember it (mostly because coverage pre-empted cartoons). I said as much on the air. And the clarification was that what this guy meant to say was that he hadn't seen such moral decline of a sexual nature in the presidency until Clinton was elected. Excuse me, HELLO again! Let's have a show of hands-does the name John F. Kennedy ring any bells here?! I am certainly not going to attempt to apologize for, rationalize, or justify the alleged behavior of any of these guys. And let me be the first to say I would never let my (hypothetical) daughter babysit for a Kennedy, much less accept a rainy ride home from one. BUT, I refuse to treat any of this as NEWS either. Let's review. Do you mean to tell me that Bill Clinton, a perpetual passive-aggressive adolescent baby boomer in the midst of a deep midlife panic has actually occasionally preferred the company of big-haired trailer twinkies to that of his ambitious, powerful, intelligent, attractive wife? Hmmm. Color me surprised. And while I don't mind throwing a little sympathy in Hillary's direction, it's sheer torture to find myself in the position of defending Kathie Lee Gifford (that gulp you're hearing is me swallowing my pride), but I have to. I have actually heard the argument (expressed by the husband of the flight attendant Frank dallied with) that Kathie Lee's responsible for Frank's cheating since she didn't keep a tighter leash on her husband. (Oh and I'm sure that $75,000 tabloid bounty this woman solicited had nothing to do with it. Never trust a woman named Susan who spells it "Suzen.") Whatever Kathie Lee's multifarious flaws are, and whether or not you justifiably believe that she is the female antichrist, Frank married her anyway. Then he actually sweet-talked this Suzen character (in the tabloid transcripts) about how "perky" she was. Come on. Does anybody really believe he had to stray from the bonds of holy matrimony for that?! This guy is married to the doyenne of perky. In short, it doesn't seem to matter what or who these guys have at home. Hugh Grant wakes up to a supermodel every morning and still felt compelled to seek companionship in the arms (or at least the gums) of the not-so-delovely Divine Brown? And has anybody seen Eddie Murphy's gorgeous wife Nicole? OK, now has anyone gotten a good look at a street-walkin' drag queen lately? Who knows what lurks within the hearts, bedrooms, and linens of these particular relationships, but those stereotypical old ball-and-chain, boys-will-be-boys arguments are getting a little tired. However, in the interest of equal time, it's fair to at least look briefly at Lt. Kelly Flinn, the Air Force's first female B-52 bomber pilot, who received a less than honorable discharge for lying and disobeying orders as they related to her affair with the married Marc Zigo. Now. Is there a double standard for sexual misconduct in the military? You betcha. Is Marc Zigo the "oil slick" columnist Jacquelyn Mitchard describes him as? Undoubtedly. Is his wife a whiny, tattletale crybaby? Seems that way. But does that make Flinn a heroine? Not exactly. She's mostly guilty of reckless bad taste in men, general insipidness (those "love letters" would give anyone the dry heaves), and a certain elasticity in her moral fiber that isn't exactly shocking in your average 26-year-old. But, much like Frank Gifford, she knew the "rules of the institution" when she signed on. And while we're on the topic, let's not forget: there's NO CRYING IN THE AIR FORCE! Sympathy may run high simply because no one wants to be judged on the basis of the biggest LOSER they've ever slept with. I know I don't, but then again, I'm not zipping around the unfriendly skies in a multi-million dollar jet with nuclear warheads strapped beneath my quivering thighs. The fate of democracy and the free world is not riding on my precarious judgment in men. And let's have a moment of prayer for that.