Sunday, February 28, 2010

Breaking up is hard to do (unedited)

It wasn't that many years ago I attended Holly's wedding. It was barely four years ago, and I remember it fondly. It was that rare occasion where I enjoyed a wedding reception.

Holly use to sell advertising at the newspaper. Yes, THE newspaper, the one I've now been working at for 12 years. For a year or two she sold ads in the same area I covered. We chatted about the coverage area now and again, which is how we got to be friends.

It was during those years that she had a long-time relationship with Frank. I don't know a lot about Frank's background, but he's one of those colorful characters who had many exotic tales to tell. He was also some sort of real estate mogul. Perhaps that's overstating it, but Frank developed lavish lake homes for the wealthy, it seemed. His life, not surprisingly, mirrored that lavish lifestyle.

I have no idea how Holly met Frank, or what exactly they had in common, but they were a couple. Holly didn't come from a wealthy family, as far as I know, and I couldn't help but wonder if some of the attraction to Frank was the lavish lifestyle he enjoyed.

I'm not sure what happened, but eventually their ongoing relationship came to an end, and Holly had a hard time dealing with it, this I know firsthand. She made peace with the end of their relationship and moved on. So did Frank. He married some woman, younger than Holly it sounds like, relatively quickly.

Holly, meanwhile, moved on, too. I don't know where or when she met Phil, but she did. I only met him once, at their wedding, but from what I knew of him, he was far more blue collar than Frank. He struck me as the type of guy who remained friends with those he grew up with, never fell into the trap that bigger is better and enjoyed a decent living, but believed in working hard for it. He wasn't the type of guy who was going to fall into a boatload of cash by dumb luck, nor was he looking to. Maybe I have him pegged all wrong, but that's the impression I had.

I went to Holly and Phil's wedding in 2005 and assumed it was happily ever after from there. I think both were in their 40s at this point. I assume when you reach that age you know what you want out of life, what you can compromise on and what you will not accept in a relationship or marriage.

Whatever the reason, Holly and Phil got divorced last fall.

This was news to me, as Holly and I had lunch last August and she gave no indication that she was headed down that road. I'm not one of her closest friends, so I didn't expect her to tip me off. I found out last month when I e-mailed her, asking if she wanted to meet for lunch. She replied with the divorce bombshell and noting she now lives in Los Angeles.

Since she was no longer married, she decided it was time to move somewhere fresh, new and exciting. She was selling advertising for a direct-mail publication and was able to transfer to the L.A. area and continue working for her company. So on Christmas day she arrived in Los Angeles, intent on starting her life anew.

Given her family is in Minnesota, I found the move to L.A. to be a bit odd. But she does have friends and/or acquaintances there, evidently, so she's not a complete stranger in that town.

In barely four years she went from married to divorced and living in California. All the money that was spent on the wedding and reception, from photos to dinners, and all those gifts that were given to the newlyweds seems all for naught.

People wait far less than four years to decide they made a mistake and throw in the towel on their marriage. But four years still seems like they pulled a rather quick trigger. Had you told me that their marriage was only going to last four years, perhaps I wouldn't have bothered to go to the wedding. Why go through the motions. Sure, I enjoyed a nice dinner and party, but why go through the motions of buying picture frames for the newlyweds in exchange for dinner? It all seems rather wasteful.

I've been to a few weddings where the happily wed husband and wife have thrown in the towel. Ironically it has been weddings of the last 5-7 years that have been negated. Most any friend whose wedding I attended 10 or more years ago remains married today. I was quite the lucky charm for many years, it seemed.

So now Holly is out in L.A., perhaps never to return again. (With her family in Minnesota, I know she'll be back once or twice a year, including a trip she already has booked this summer.) We'll always have e-mail, telephones and social networking, we will never lose touch. Yet somehow I'm a bit irritated by the recent turn of events. I can't quite put my finger on it or explain it, but I'm more ticked off about it than I should be.

Monday, February 8, 2010

What the? (unedited)

Every once in a while you see something that just stops you in your tracks.

The Superbowl provided one of those moments.

When I saw David Letterman's Superbowl commercial, I knew Oprah Winfrey would be making an appearance. I remember their 2007 commercial well, when they appeared together rooting for their favorite cities in the Superbowl. It was short, and brilliant.

Oprah, I saw that coming a mile away, but nobody in the free world expected to see Jay Leno.

I have long enjoyed Letterman's style and sense of humor. I first discovered him in the summer of 1985. Holy crap am I old.

Although I don't watch Letterman religiously every night, I've never taken to Leno or Conan O'Brien. I don't hate them, but I've never found them to be as sharp or as witty. Each host has his strengths, and I can understand why Leno beat Letterman for most of the 16 years they competed against each other, but for me it's always been Dave, despite his many flaws, as a host and as a person.

I'm no authority on the hosts, but I've read enough to have a pretty good idea that Letterman isn't particularly fond of Leno. I've come to believe they had a professional friendship. Letterman got his own show following The Tonight Show, Leno came along and joined the ranks of Tonight Show guest hosts. NBC wanted Leno to become a network talent, a la Bob Hope, so they did everything they could to keep him under contract with NBC. When it came time to push Carson out the door, NBC had to make a choice. It chose Leno. Letterman walked. (Did NBC doubt Letterman was going to walk when he lost out on the job?)

Letterman has always come off as bitter about the snub. Leno allegedly tried to maintain a professional friendship with Letterman, even after they became competitors on opposite networks. Leno, who has been accused of being rather self-serving -- if not downright devious -- at least said the right things about the rivalry when questioned about it. I remember seeing an interview he did, noting how the two shouldn't be enemies, as they both were doing nightly talk shows and making millions of dollars. (Easy to say when you win The Tonight Show, but still, he had a point.)

I've never known Letterman to be very gracious when the topic of Leno or The Tonight Show comes up. Maybe he doesn't dislike or disrespect Leno as much as it seems.

But it floored me to see Leno in the commercial. I assumed it was filmed in two parts. Imagine my surprise when I read how both Leno and Oprah went to Letterman's studio to film the promo. Amazing, absolutely amazing.

Leno could use the positive publicity, he's taken a beating, unfairly, for accepting the reigns of The Tonight Show, again. Had he been unwilling to participate in the commercial, would you blame him? (Of course you'd most likely never know Letterman had hatched the idea if Leno declined.) Bottom line: Leno easily could have said no, and he didn't.

What I'm more struck by is the fact Letterman proposed the idea. He looks brilliant for coming up with it, but I doubt it's going to gain as much good will for him as it does for Leno. Yet it marks an amazing turn in his professional relationship with Leno, even if he got to mock Leno in the commercial.

Longtime rivals, about to go back to battle after a short hiatus, and now Letterman offers an olive branch? What the hell has this world come to?