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The rest is history — or should be. But she devotes little more than a page to how she breathed life into Hearst’s dying magazine and turned it, for better or worse, into a greater influence on women’s liberation than all of feminism’s tomes put together. It would be fascinating to read a detailed account of her first year at the helm. Even more fascinating would be hearing her version of some of the great Cosmo legends, such as the “Breast Article” (how to fondle them, how to kiss them, etc.) that was leaked to the press by a treacherous staffer.
But instead we get a stitch-by-stitch account of her cosmetic surgeries. She’s had three face lifts; the first at age 60, the second at 67, and the third in 1995 at the age of 73, when she also had her bosom augmented from the A cup nature gave her to the B she regards as her ideal size. She offers no explanation for why she waited so long, or why she even bothered at such an advanced age, except to say that fashions were bosom-revealing that year.
A year or so later she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but denies — twice — that it had anything to do with the “massive doses of estrogen” (two 1.25 milligram tablets a day) she had taken “for the past thirty years.” A little while later she says it again: “I also don’t dwell on the possibility of my having given myself cancer with the heavy dosage of Premarin for thirty-three years. Occasionally a doctor suggested taking less but nobody slugged me.”
In other words, she started gobbling estrogen at 44. Why? Was she trying to ward off the menopause entirely and menstruate forever? She doesn’t say.
Nor does she explain why, at 75, she sprang for a lumpectomy instead of a mastectomy, saying only, “Whew! I get to keep most of my breast.” Keep it, please God, for what? We never find out because she would rather explain that Crisco shortening, which she used as an emollient after surgery, also helps nails grow strong. Now she carries a tub of it everywhere she goes, prompting David to observe that it’s like “being married to an apple pie.”
Her other surgery was a hysterectomy that she almost undid when she insisted on doing her regular daily exercises in defiance of the doctor’s warning that she could burst her sutures. The exercises are described in a prose style that manages to be both giddy and numbing at the same time; whenever she finds herself somewhere unamenable to a full work-out, such as an airplane, she goes in the lavatory and exercises by sitting down on and getting up off the toilet, over and over again. Her life’s ambition is to have a “concave tummy,” which still eludes her even though she weighs only 99 pounds.
Most of the book consists of the “brazen thoughts” of the subtitle, fragmented observations in no particular order, whatever pops into her head:
• “Good drivers are good in bed.”
• How to Tell What Size He Is: Check out “the vertical indentation in a man’s ear that dips down into the fleshy part of the lobe.” In the best-endowed men it’s so long it looks like Italy.
• Another firm statement (she had one in her first book) about the total absence of lesbianism in her life.
• Rewriting the Lord’s Prayer to make it jibe with her definition of temptation. (“Don’t scoop all the petit fours off the plate at a tony restaurant into your purse and, if scooped, don’t eat them all at once when you get home. Try to make yourself throw them in the john.”)
• Her favorite word is “pippypoo,” whose definition ranges from shallow and superficial, to silly fun and frivolity, to decorative and cute. (I already knew this from her editorial notes on one of my articles, which contained the cryptic observation: “Well, we never get anything pippypoo from Florence, she’s always so warpy-and-woofy.”) Her disquisition on the dangers of gossip contains the worst writing in the book:
We had a nice lunch one day, chatted like old friends, but when I couldn’t get another friend to return my phone calls, finally reached her, and asked about the blackout, she said Diane had told her I had said she, Maudie, the non-phone-call returner, never left her house these days but stayed in bed smoking pot. I’d actually told Diane about her staying in bed but not about the pot because I didn’t know about it, that was said by Diane to me but whoever said it, you wouldn’t tell the person it was said about them, would you, if it’s something they won’t like?
Like all skinflints she prefers to think of herself as “thrifty.” She buys one bottle of spring water for $2.98, then refills the bottle with tap water and serves it to guests. She takes New York buses at senior-citizen rates, even after chic theater parties, and makes David ride them too, happily reminding him how much they saved on cabs. She once jumped out of a cab taking her the long way around the San Antonio airport rather than pay the $8 on the meter, and ended up walking down the freeway. Is it any wonder she recommends semen as a facial mask? It’s free.
She won’t come right out and admit it, but it’s obvious that she hates children. Once she even screamed “shut up!” at a crying baby on a plane, mortifying the Cosmo editors traveling with her. The other time she lost it in public also happened on a plane, when they ran out of the baked salmon she had ordered and the stewardess brought her “fat sausage and runny eggs.” Exploding, “I can’t eat this s—t!” she upended the plate and dumped it in the aisle.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?