Posted by: ritagone | January 5, 2011

Poor Hugh!

I want to start 2011’s Rita’s Ramblings off with a quote from a book I read and finished New Year’s Eve day to make two points: first, that even a book you don’t like can elicit a good quote, and second, that that same quote can stimulate some pretty good thought.

The book was “Don’t Get Too Comfortable,” by David Rakoff, who I saw interviewed on a very early morning talk show several weeks ago, at which time I thought I might enjoy his writing.  I was wrong, for the most part, which isn’t unusual.  Rakoff is a gay man living in New York City, and his claim to fame is that he is proud of his pessimism (his latest book is called “Half Empty”), but I have discovered that I like humorist David Sedaris’ writings much more.  However, at the end of his selection of essays, Rakoff mentions Hugh Hefner in an off-handed reference to his dalliances with 24-year-olds.  He says: “I feel fairly comfortable characterizing as sad, for example, that a man as old as Hugh Hefner still seems to aspire to nothing higher than dating twenty-four-year-old twins.  Seven and a half decades is an awfully long time in which to not grow up.”  And I laughed because – while this book was written in 2005 and so Rakoff could not know this fact, only recently Mr. Hefner did in reality get engaged to…a twenty-four-year-old!  So he’s old enough to be her father.  No, wait, her grandfather.  No, hold on, that would be her great-grandfather, wouldn’t it?

I hate to start the new year in a cynical mode, but come on!  Mr. Rakoff got this right: What indeed is Mr. Hefner trying to prove?  Haven’t we as a society (as a whole) for decades agreed that he’s a stud?  Haven’t we applauded him for his lifestyle, for his stable of curvy blondes young enough to be his daughter’s granddaughters?  What more does he want from us?  Can’t he just leave us alone and let us age gracefully, and won’t he commit to doing the same?  Does he really think that he’s going to spend his twilight (snicker, snicker) years with this young lady playing tennis and frolicking on the beach in Cabo?  At 84 years of age, I can’t imagine that he’s expecting a whole lot more, but then, I don’t want to even go there, here.

And then I have to ask myself: why do I even care?  What difference does it make in my own life if Hugh Hefner and Ms. 24-Year-Old have seen fit to tie the knot and spend the rest of their lives together in wedded bliss?  Which brings me to the “good thought” part of my first paragraph way back at the beginning of when I started writing this rant, because, truth to tell, it is indeed a rant.  And that’s what I want to do less of this year: rant.  I want to discover or unearth within myself the need or necessity for ranting at other peoples’ situations or decisions or proclivities, especially when they have absolutely no effect on me whatsoever except to make me angry.  In short, again, why do I care?  Why am I even wasting the energy that it takes to rant about these kinds of things?

I have enough on my hands to handle the situations or decisions or proclivities around me that do affect my life, what with two children and four grandchildren and a myriad of people in and out of my life at all times.  You would think that these lovely folk would keep me busy enough to stay away from the non-essential rants of which I am speaking.

I’m not going to use as my motto G.K. Chesterton’s phrase: “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.”  Instead, in 2011, I’m going to be more positive.  I’m positive about that.  But why in the world does Hugh Hefner’s engagement have to come along so early in the year to challenge my resolution immediately?  I was hoping to work my way into dealing with negative things that stimulate a cynical response in me so that long about March or April would come the first opportunity to test my mettle, not January 1 or 2.  That’s not fair.  I haven’t steeled myself well enough yet.

So I guess I’ll have to accept the gauntlet of an immediate challenge to my cynicism, because I really don’t want to go through another year being snide and sneering.  My goodness, there’s so much out there that can bring a snicker to my lips and my soul, if I didn’t make it a matter of prayer, I’d have that snicker permanently etched on my face, and that’s truly not the look I want for 2011.

So Hugh and his 24-year-old fiancée be damned!  I may even send a wedding present and wish them well.  David Rakoff makes a living – although I don’t know if it’s a decent one or not – being pessimistic and cynical, but I don’t wish to follow in his footsteps.  No, indeed, give me Pollyanna instead this year.  I want smile lines, not frowns.  And no sneers at all.

How about you?

Will you join me in a 2011 anti-sneer pledge?  I am throwing down the gauntlet to those of you reading this, and let’s see if together we can bring a little less pessimism, a little less cynicism into the world around us.

Don’t say you can’t do it.

That’s just too darned cynical.


Regards in this new year, Rita

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