A Moment of Jen
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Sunday, March 03, 2002
posted by Jen at 3/03/2002 02:33:00 PM

"What do you mean, you didn't know the coffee shop was closing?" my mother asked. "How could you not know? Don't you talk to anyone there?"

Well, I said, I've heard some things, but I was kind of in denial, I guess. And I'm upset! I work there every day! Now I have nowhere to go! How would you like it if you went to work one morning and they were converting your office into a Cosi sandwich shop?

My mother laughs. "I think I would have noticed."

So that's what we've got in terms of family support. However, all is happy in my world. I went to the accountant last night and discovered that, miracle of miracles, I'm actually getting a refund on my taxes this year. Which was a huge surprise, and is mostly the result of my paying too much in estimated taxes. Which was a result of my extreme fiscal cluelessness. At one point, the accountant was staring at me like I'd grown a second head as I was trying to explain to him what happened, and I felt like blurting out "Math is hard!" in the voice of Malibu Stacy on the Simpsons, but still. Excellent news.

And tonight: Monica Lewinsky on HBO.

I think sometimes I'm the only one in America who feels the least little bit sorry for her (I actually went so far as to tone down one of the jokes in GOOD IN BED because I figured she might actually pick up the book one day and she's had to read enough mean things about therself).

Yes, sleeping with a married man is bad, wrong, and damaging to everyone involved....but really. When she's a 22-year-old intern looking for love and validation, and he's the president, which one's the most to blame? Sure, she should have known better, but he should have totally known better -- and he didn't. And the thong-flashing, the phone sex, the blabbing to her girlfriends and family members, the lying about it when she was caught...it all felt pretty familiar. Except for the thong part. And the married-man part. And the president part, and the clandestine sex on Easter Sunday while his wife was at church part, and the cigar part, and the part about demanding that your ex find you a well-paying job in New York once the affair was over, and....oh, never mind. The part of the Monica story I objected to the most were the fat jokes; the way the blame seemed to shift so quickly from the Big He (for being a liar, a cheater, a serial user of underlings) to her (for committing what our culture has apparently decided is the far worse crime of being fat).

I remember reading Jeffrey Toobin's book about the scandal, and his observation that, at 22, Monica Lewinsky was uniquely a product of her place and her time: a young woman who'd only learned how to do one thing in her life -- namely, diet -- and thinking how sad that was. To me, she'll always be more sinned against than sinning -- a young woman who chose badly in terms of lovers, friends, and black berets, and paid way, way more than she should have.

Unless, of course, I see something new on TV tonight.
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