In the (K)now

A letter my friend received from an, uh, let's just say "eager" parent:

Dear -,

I enjoyed talking to you that night. My main request to you is to ask you to profile a highly rated entering Harvard freshman for me. I would use that information to mould my daughter to be a potential Harvard student along those lines.

I suppose the key ingredients are curricular and extra-curricular activities and research. Tell me, to the extent you know, what would an ideal student look like? More as we carry on.


Warm Wishes, -"


You knew it was coming, it was just a question of when. How long could I hold it in?

Well, the time has come to revisit the Gwynesaurus. I think the last time I discussed the Boo Hoo Hooligan, I left you with this closing thought. "Do I think Gwyneth Paltrow is a terrible person? No. Do I think she's the devil? Absolutely." Let there be no doubt, however, that I not only hate Gwyneth Paltrow, but I hate the very idea of Gwyneth Paltrow. Every time I chance upon her pouty, fresh-faced visage, salon-tended hair and clothes that you just know she didn't pay for, I feel my blood start to boil. I get the primal, irrepressible urge to jump on a cross-country bus to wherever she's shooting, run up to her in the middle of a scene and kick her in the knee. And let there be no doubt that right after I bruise her shin, I will make a very bad face at her.

After Shakespeare in Love and her shameful performance at the Oscars last year, Paltrow thankfully lay low for a short time. Too short in my opinion, because now she's about to be back in theaters with Bounce, and everyone's content to revisit and re-hype Ben-neth.

But I tried to ignore her. I valiantly resisted against every temptation. But then Ben Affleck unintentionally made it personal. In an interview, he gushed, "She does yoga for an hour and a half each day. She speaks French, she speaks fluent Spanish and she speaks passable conversational Italian. She knows about art history, architecture, culture, style and wine. And she knows all about football, too. It really makes you feel inadequate." I could feel the sweat beading on my forehead. I made a checklist in my head -I'm not limber enough for yoga (plus I think some positions should only be practiced in, well, whatever), I can't speak French, my Spanish has degenerated into grade-A Spanglish, and I only know the words "caprese" and "fiorello" in Italian. Art history always profoundly befuddled me, I confuse gothic and Romanesque architecture, my brother constantly accuses of me not only of being uncultured but also tasteless, I'm always behind a season when it comes to style, and last but not least, wine gives me a thunderous headache. I swallowed hard before putting it all together. Gasp-I'm not as cool as Gwyneth Paltrow. Despair...devastation.... death.

"But wait," I thought. "She also got dumped by Brad Pitt for Jennifer Aniston." Gone were the feelings of inadequacy, and I headed out to Toscanini's for a hot vanilla (so good!).

The truth is, Gwyneth Paltrow still breathes rarefied air, still has stringy hair and still has absolutely nothing to say. My opinions were reconfirmed when I heard about how she recently introduced a journalist visiting her on-set to her live-in sidekick. "This is Leela," said the Grand Trollope. "Leela's my yoga teacher and she makes me organic, macrobiotic lunches that are delicious. What are we having today?" "Spelt," says Leela. "Spelt," says Gushy Gwyneth, "is more easily digestible than wheat. Wheat's very hard on your immune system. But I promise you, you practice Ashtanga every day and you eat like this, nothing can stop you."

Ashtanga or no Ashtanga, I'm thinking, if I bop you in the knee, that's gonna stop you.

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