Monica Lewinsky Opens Up

After maintaining her silence and dropping out of the public eye for years, Monica Lewinsky has resurfaced, penning an article about herself in Vanity Fair.  The magazine is running a teaser (no pun intended) of her article now; the full story will be available in digital editions on May 8 and on newstands next week.

The Monica Lewinsky scandal seems like a long time ago, and it was.  Get this — the former White House intern whose intimate relationship with President Clinton gave rise to more bad jokes that you can count is now 40.  She’s decided to resurface so that she can “take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past.”  I’m not sure that it’s possible for Ms. Lewinsky to “take back her narrative” under any circumstances, but in her piece she says she deeply regrets her fling with the Prez, insists it was a consensual arrangement between two adults, believes it’s time to bury the notorious blue dress, and discloses that she was humiliated and suicidal as the scandal progressed and she became a kind of punching bag for people on all parts of the political spectrum.

I don’t blame Lewinsky for her decision to talk about her past.  These days, just about everybody does it, so why should she be any different?  But the Lewinsky period was an intensely embarrassing one for everyone involved — whether you’re talking about the dissembling President who unbelievably engaged in a grossly improper relationship while in office, or the overreaching House Republicans, or the President’s overly aggressive defenders and detractors — and for the country at large.  Having lived through it, I have no desire to relive it, and therefore I’m not going to read the full Vanity Fair article.

I wish Ms. Lewinsky the best, but I’m perfectly content to let her fade into the past along with ’90s music, the dotcom bubble, and other dimly recalled vestiges of that decade.

Babymoons, Push Gifts, And Other Novel Pregnancy-Related Cultural Developments

There hasn’t been a pregnancy in Webner House for more than two decades.  A lot has changed, apparently, since Russell greeted the world back in 1988.

Yesterday I went to lunch with two young female colleagues, one of whom is in her second trimester.  They talked about “babymoons,” whether she expected a “push gift,” and other topics that made me feel like I had been dropped into an alternate world where people speak what seems to be English but the words have no meaning.

It turns out that a “babymoon” is not a reference to a part of fetal anatomy, but rather a honeymoon-like trip that an expectant couple takes before the life-changing birth of their first child.  That sounds like a good idea to me, although if Kish and I had known what the immediate weeks after childbirth would be like our babymoon probably would have focused less on romance and more on racking up as much sleep as possible.  A “push gift,” on the other hand, is a somewhat crass term for a present the mother receives from her fellow parent to compensate for the pain of labor and childbirth.  No word, however, on whether the other parent receives any gift to acknowledge the challenges involved in living for months with a hormone-charged being who might burst into tears at any moment for no readily apparent reason.

What else is new in pregnancy?  Well, thanks to Demi Moore and her famous Vanity Fair cover photo, more pregnant women are having naked photos taken, some at weekly intervals to track their progress, and then posting them on on Facebook and other social media websites.  It’s also apparently popular to take a plaster casting of the pregnant woman’s belly, the better to preserve her condition, in all its three-dimensional glory, for posterity.

I can’t imagine our doing any of that stuff, but then our grandparents undoubtedly would have thought it was weird that we were practicing breathing techniques and back rubs at Lamaze classes, that Kish was wearing anything other than black tent-like garments intended to mask the fact of pregnancy, and that I would want to be in the delivery room when the big moment finally arrived.  How people deal with pregnancy seems like one of those areas where there have been quiet, but profound, changes in our social and cultural mores.