Dear Mr. Brinkley

Although it might appear that I spend all my time reading celebrity magazines–and I won’t deny that prolonged exposure to articles about Paris Hilton can cause brain damage–I would like to state for the record that the bookshelves in my home demonstrate our diverse taste in literature and non-fiction. We read a lot and we don’t limit ourselves to any one type of book. That said, I confess that –occasionally– I require a little “cheese pause” between the wine courses that constitute my reading diet and I have a particular weakness for People and US magazines–the Velveeta and Cheez-Whiz of non-essential celebrity news.

I enjoy it mostly because it requires only a couple of my functioning and oh-so-important-brain cells to understand what is being said and because, when you’re writing for the level of a mind that cares even a little bit about K Fed’s laryngitis or Heather Locklear’s new tattoo…well…it’s best to set the “journalism” bar low. You catch my drift?
So there I was today in the salon paying good money to maintain my original hair color having my hair done and I spied an article about Christie Brinkley’s cheating dog of a husband, Peter Cook. Here he was, an established architect, married to a successful businesswoman/ex-model who was already a famous “somebody” before she married him ten years ago. At 52, Brinkley’s still quite stunning and certainly more than Cook deserves, when you consider that he felt entitled to pursue a couple of 18-year old girls and engage in affairs with them during the course of the marriage.

Of course, if I became unraveled every time I heard about a middle-aged man who thought he deserved to wrap his aging flesh around something younger and firmer than the woman presently enslaved married to him, I’d have to request a 24-hour Effexor drip just to make it through the day. It wasn’t the fact that he was a cheater that came as a surprise. No, the real shocker was the excuse that was offered to explain away his *cough* youthful indiscretion as it is often categorized when important/famous men continue to screw up their lives after age 40.

So here it is, folks. The real reason Peter Cook couldn’t keep it in his pants: He didn’t like being the second banana in the marriage. It hurt his ego to be thought of as merely the husband of Christie Brinkley, rather than El Numero Uno.

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*sniff* The next sound you hear will be the fists of generations of second bananas women beating their fists on the satin-lined lids of their coffins…six feet under and mad as hell.

Dear Peter,

I’m sorry but that tired old excuse just won’t wash with me. Nope, not a bit. Hey…go ask your mother if you don’t believe me…that is, if she’s still speaking to you. See, this may come as a bit of a surprise to you, but there is no law that says your ego is more important than that of your wife. No rule that says she needs to step out the spotlight she made for herself because it makes you feel bad about yourself. No edict requiring her to defer to you in such a way as to preserve the false notion that the man always gets to be the…you know…big cheese. To put it in pre-school parlance: YOU ARE SO NOT THE BOSS OF HER.

If there was, in fact, a natural order to the world wherein men were always superior, successful, wise and made good choices and women were a bunch of lame-o sheep who always follow a pre-ordained and very narrow life path, you’d see it all the time. My husband would read the New York Times every morning and I would be satisfied to stimulate my brain by daily exposure to a 64-pack of Crayolas and my Scooby-Doo coloring book. That phenomenon of superior/inferior would unfold all by itself –every single day and without coercion or threat.
And I’ll tell you another thing: If your self-importance was truly natural men wouldn’t have needed hundreds of years of laws that made it illegal for women to become educated or use their skills to do something besides rinse out your socks nor would you need organized religion reminding women how fun it is to be a “joyful servant” to their husbands. None of that would be necessary…because your fragile ego would be Priority One all of the time and the entire Red Sea of intelligent and creative women (if any such thing existed) would part and kneel down for you every time you you needed to scrape your muddy shoes on a random neck.

You owe your wife, for starters, a huge apology. You’ll notice, by the way, she didn’t take your last name. There may be a reason for that. Don’t forget to ask her about it, even though it’s really a stupid tradition that should be stopped ASAP. Also toss out a big “I WAS WRONG” to your kids for being such an atrocious specimen of the male species. You give your daughter the impression that this is how men are allowed to treat women and she that should just “lie back and think of England”. Plus, you pass along your wrongheaded entitlement chromosome to your son. Another apology to your mother because, God knows, she might have sacrificed a promising career of her own to raise your sorry ass better than that.

While you’re at it, apologize to all women who gave up a perfectly good identity to chafe daily under the the burden of a name that isn’t really theirs in the first place. Say you’re sorry to the billions of wives who played second banana to even the WORST kind of husband…for no other reason than because that’s what a “good wife” was required to do…or ELSE. Then, ask for a show of hands from anyone–any group of WOMEN–to see if any of them enjoy living in the shadow of a man and if they feel the least bit sorry for you. What??? No takers? Imagine that.

Happy Trails, loser.

Stacy SCHNELLENBACH Bogle