Love advice from the
Scene's resident literary lothario
Dear Damian: What do you make of this whole Eliot Spitzer brouhaha? If my husband had pulled a stunt like that, he'd be out on his ass. And I certainly wouldn't have stood next to him at those humiliating press conferences. Does his wife have no dignity?
Dear No-Nonsense: Like the media and everyone else, you just jump to conclusions. What happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? Sure, maybe he “confessed,” but did you for one second consider that maybe the ex-governor is involved in a top-secret sting operation that can't be made public, so he resigned for the greater good? Maybe he was mentoring this woman, and he knew the only way she'd allow him to help her was if he paid her the hourly rate so she could cover her sick grandmother's medical bills—and after the media frenzy, he realized he could best benefit her by taking the fall and allowing her to sell the story of her faux-scandal to the highest bidder. And if his wife knew, she surely wouldn't hang him out to dry.
At first glance, these theories may seem far-fetched, but I can tell you that these kinds of media snow jobs happen all the time. Consider this bizarre episode from my own life:
It all started when my good friend Tasha came to town to visit me in early 2002. She had just lost her job and was struggling, so I asked her what her dream job would be, and she answered, “I've always wanted to be a police officer, but I just can't picture myself as one.”
Being the nurturing friend that I am, I suggested we rent her a police uniform—including the baton, handcuffs, etc., just to be as realistic as possible—so she could really envision herself in the job. We were already downtown, so we figured, why not just go to her hotel room and try it on?
So we get to the room and Tasha puts on the uniform, but she says, “I still don't really know what it feels like to be a cop.” Sensing she needed to go a little deeper, I said, “OK, why not pretend you're arresting me. It'll be a drug deal gone bad.” In the interest of authenticity, I put a couple hundred bucks on the dresser. But I was in my finest Armani suit and didn't want to get it wrinkled, as I had a high-powered meeting with my financial advisers later in the day. So I stripped down to my boxers. So she cuffs me, then starts hitting me lightly with the baton, and, to make it feel real for her, I scream, “Please officer! Don't hurt me! I didn't do anything!” Keep in mind, Tasha is contemplating an enormous career change, and I felt it was imperative that we really explored its implications thoroughly.
Well wouldn't you know it, one of the other hotel guests overheard my screaming and called the front desk. Next thing we know, real cops open the door and see that there's money on the dresser, I'm handcuffed in my boxers, and Tasha is smacking my behind with the baton. And, ridiculous as it sounds, they thought she was a prostitute and I was a john
! Honest to God. Me—Damian Winthrop, international ladies' man—paying for sex
. In the officers' defense, surely they had no knowledge of my reputation. But how preposterous!
So she tries to explain the situation, and they say to me, “If she's a friend of yours, then tell us her name.” But all the screaming had made me lose my voice, so I couldn't answer.
Readers of the supermarket tabloids likely remember the headlines: “Damian Cuffed Twice in One Day,” “Arresting Developments,” “Ladies' (of the Night) Man,” “Winthrop Gets His Baton Twirled,” the list goes on. And all due to a silly misunderstanding! Ah, life has some amusing twists and turns.
So before you throw Spitzer to the lions, make sure you know all of the facts.