It’s that time of the year for folk tales and fairy stories, notably the one about the jolly, red-suited old guy with the white whiskers, who rides across the sky in a sleigh pulled by reindeer.
In the unlikely event of telling that tale to someone who’d never heard of him, the listener might well enquire as to what mind-altering substances you were taking, or to put it in street parlance, what are you on?
Speaking of old guys with white whiskers puts me in mind of Charles Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll, who probably was on something, when he wrote his oneiric stories about Alice in Wonderland for the credulous young daughters of an Oxford university colleague.
Dodgson lived in Victorian England at a time when opium and laudanum were common currency. Two decades earlier in the US, Edgar Allan Poe was alleged to have used similar substances in the creation of rather more sinister tales than Alice drinking ‘tea’ with white rabbits, a scenario brought vividly up to date for my indulgent generation forty years ago by Grace Slick and Jefferson Airplane.
All of which brings us inevitably to Marion Jones, whose folk tale involves taking body-altering substances, performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), but which seems to have included a fair amount of mind-altering drugs, given the fairy stories that she has been retailing to anyone who will listen.
We don’t need to revisit the litany of her ‘crimes’ here, they has been amply recorded by people like Joe Battaglia (see link below). And I’ve seen enough weird couplings to believe that it wasn’t necessarily paternal abandonment at an early age which drove an attractive, athletic young woman into the arms of a character like CJ Hunter, who even a Poe might have trouble fictionalising. Another folk tale there, perhaps; Beauty and the Beast? But enough of ten-cent psychology.
We all want to rewrite our history, even at the simple level exemplified by the popular tee-shirt motto, ‘The older I get the better I was’.
F Scott Fitzgerald memorably wrote, ‘There are no second acts in American lives’. Oprah Winfrey has made herself a millionaire many times over while proving Fitzgerald wrong. And Winfrey was one of the first targets for Ms Jones and her image-rebuilders as they set out to create her second act.
But Jones’ denials of culpability which come close to second degree perjury – and she might recall that her first degree perjury earned her six months in the pen – put me in mind of Flo-Jo’s contention to Larry King that her new-found physique and unfeasible speed were the result of 5000 sit-ups a day.
Ho, Ho, Ho, as the white-whiskered old gent in the red suit might respond.
Now, the crucial ingredients in the recipe for creating a second act in an American life are admission of guilt, followed by abject apology and a plea for forgiveness. It even worked for Trickie-Dickie Nixon!
So until Ms Jones finds herself some smarter advisors, or better still, starts taking a substance that will induce her to tell the truth, she might as well go back to where she began as a girl no older than Alice, ie the ‘burbs of Los Angeles, to write her fairy story.
Might I suggest a title? Marion in La-La Land.