Shakespeare on Love

Shakespeare on Love

Shakespeare on Love

A summary of what's been in the tabloids.
Feb. 5 1999 3:30 AM

Shakespeare on Love

The key to understanding celebrity love lies in the sonnets.

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When he wasn't out cavorting with Gwyneth Paltrow, William Shakespeare wrote some sonnets that turn out to be apt commentary on the tabloids continuing examination of the pain and promise of celebrity love. Sonnet 129 nicely sums up the situation between the first couple:

The expense of spirit in a waste of shame

Is lust in action; and till action, lust

Is perjur'd, murderous, bloody, full of blame,

Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust.

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Though even Monica Lewinsky, for all her wheedling, couldn't convince the president to give her a tour of the White House private quarters, the tabs have no trouble penetrating that sanctum sanctorum, providing bulletins from Bill and Hillary's intimate moments. The National Enquirer reports, for example, "[The president] dissolved into tears after a bitter screaming match with Hillary. They were both sobbing and screaming. It was a scene like none other in the history of their relationship." Just as often, however, Hillary refuses to speak to him. "Meals with the First Lady have been silent, ominous affairs. Servants said they hardly look at each other." All this, and the pain he's inflicted on his daughter, has driven the president to a "secret collapse," the publication reports. And "[d]espite the rage Hillary feels toward Bill" she's convinced "he needs acute psychiatric help, therapy and probably antidepressant medication."

According to the Globe, however, things aren't quite so hopeless at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. With the help of a New Age counselor, Hillary is learning to forgive Bill. As Sonnet 35 says:

No more be griev'd at that which thou
hast done;
....
For to thy sensual fault I bring in
sense--
Thy adverse party is thy advocate.

Emily Yoffe Emily Yoffe

Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.

Returning to the White House, the Globe reports, is Jean Houston, the counselor who a few years ago advised Hillary to have imaginary conversations with Eleanor Roosevelt. "A controversial psychic is helping Hillary Clinton draw inner strength," says the publication. Though the Globe reports a spokesman for Houston says she has not had any contact with Hillary since 1996, the publication insists Houston has taught Hillary to "tap the power of her guardian angel." As proof, the Globe offers a photograph of Hillary wearing what it describes as a guardian angel pin but which instead looks suspiciously like a guardian eagle. Houston has also supposedly given the first lady "nonconfrontational techniques to resolve the problems that arise in a marriage." For instance, "Hillary was told to sit quietly, close her eyes and imagine that her and Bill's positions were reversed." The Globe does not report whether this method resulted in Hillary making a pass at Houston.

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While Monica may not be what Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote of his "dark lady," he does offer some commentary on Monica's awaited literary endeavor in Sonnet 80:

O, how I faint when I of you do write,

....

Then if he thrive and I be cast away,

The worst was this;--my love was my decay.

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According to the Enquirer, Monica's book will portray the most powerful man in the world as the Don Knotts of romance, quivering in fear that a steward might bust in on one of his inappropriate physical contact sessions. ("Even as I was pleasuring him I'd see his eyes flicking anxiously over my head towards the door!") And by Monica's telling, the colder the president got, the more desperate she became until she threatened to "get on the phone and call the First Lady or Chelsea" and tell them about the affair. Clinton begged her not to do it. ("Please don't tell them. Hillary would kill me and Chelsea would disown me as her father.") Monica finally backed down after she reduced him to tears. One can only imagine that at that moment Clinton probably wished he could go back in time to undo the first step in that chain of events--that is, kill Alexander Graham Bell before he ever invented the damned telephone.

The Star reports that the book will also include "never-before told details about the sex life of Linda Tripp." Perhaps the book should also come with a do-it-yourself lobotomy kit to make sure any readers who come upon this passage have a way to permanently forget it.

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Then there was the blaring cover story in last week's Enquirer, "Monica: I'm Going to Have a Baby." Or as Shakespeare put it in Sonnet 124:

If my dear love were but the child of
state,
It might for Fortune's bastard be
unfather'd.

In this case it will be unmother'd as well because, as the Enquirer makes clear, Monica is not pregnant. Continuing the strategy of looking for love in all the wrong places, Monica has decided, the Enquirer alleges, to become pregnant, because with a baby "for the first time in my life I will have true, unconditional love." After all she's been through, she might want to work up to that level of love by starting with, say, a goldfish. But the Enquirer reports she's committed to her plan and is currently looking over possible inseminators. Don't apply unless you are "Handsome, preferably a six footer, college educated, athletic and schooled in the fine arts." Blessedly that means Bob Barr is out of the running.

Being ecstatic over one's unconceived progeny is a tabloid trend. According to the Enquirer, Kim Weeks, the new Mrs. Charles Bronson, has announced, "We're having a baby--and Charlie is as excited as I am." They needn't invest in a Diaper Genie just yet, since the new Mrs. Bronson, 36 (or 38 according to the Globe), is not yet pregnant by her 77-year-old husband. She is apparently using him to hone her maternal skills, though. According to the Globe, when they dine out, she does all the ordering for him, and she was even recently seen feeding him.

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T he marriages of two aging rockers are unlikely to make it to the being fed like a baby stage. The wives of Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart would probably agree with Sonnet 121:

All men are bad, and in their badness reign.

Jagger denies that he has fathered the baby-to-be of a Brazilian beauty, but model Jerry Hall, mother of four of his children, is suing for divorce anyway. Jagger, according to the Star, begged Hall to reconsider and promised, again, never to be unfaithful again. This seems about as likely as Pamela Anderson vowing never to expose her cleavage again. According to one of Jagger's former girlfriends, he has bedded more than 7,000 women. When Hall retained Princess Diana's divorce lawyer, Jagger shot back that they couldn't get divorced because they weren't actually married--their wedding on Bali was not legal. After that public relations coup, perhaps Jagger could do damage control for the International Olympic Committee.

Rod Stewart has infuriated his wife, model Rachel Hunter, by being both an incorrigible flirt and an old bore. According to the Globe, Hunter fumed to a friend, "To Rod, life is about soccer, sex, music, drinking and his model trains--I want something more." Clearly, Rod needs to expand his interests to include such masculine pursuits as lying on the couch with the remote control. The Globe also ran a photo of the couple having a fight in front of a London restaurant after a less-than-successful celebration of their eighth anniversary. Hunter angrily towers over the sheepish singer, who looks like nothing so much as a boy who had just been caught by his mother stuffing a Tootsie Roll into the VCR.

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Even young love goes awry. The romance between Shakespeare in Love star Gwyneth Paltrow and actor Ben Affleck is kaput. According to the Star, Paltrow was seeing her co-star from A Perfect Murder, Viggo Mortensen, while still involved with Affleck. Paltrow, meanwhile, according to the Enquirer, was hearing rumors that while on location Affleck was having a "local beauty come to his trailer for quickies." Over the holidays they confronted each other with their mutual suspicions, and Paltrow broke it off, leaving Affleck heartbroken, reports the Enquirer. Ah, Ben, if only you'd taken this advice from Sonnet 138:

When my love swears that she is made of truth,

I do believe her, though I know she lies.

Finally, there is a flicker of hope that celebrities can find enduring love if they work at it. Both Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston are taking courses in order to be more alluring to their respective boyfriends. Roberts is studying Spanish because she's "enthralled by her Latino lover Benjamin Bratt's romantic language," according to the Star. The publication also reports that Aniston "hired an expert to give her a crash course in architecture and collectible furniture," because Brad Pitt is an "antiques buff." Billy Bob Thornton and Laura Dern are taking a less cerebral approach to keeping love alive, says the Star. The two bought a leather bra, erotic videos, and edible panties at a store called the Pleasure Chest. The Bard would certainly approve. As he writes in Sonnet 57:

Being your slave, what should I do but tend

Upon the hours and times of your desire?