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November 30, 1998 e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Thanks again.

A couple of things I need to add to last week's What I'm Grateful For List.

1. Thanks to Breakup Belleruth -- BG.com's Actual Credentialed Expert in Residence / Someone Else's Mom -- for the generosity and infinitude of her wisdom.

2. "Thank the pig."

3. Thank Belleruth, The Pig, and all other relevant deities ... that I am not Chelsea Clinton.

Did you guys hear? Not that this is any of our business -- well, actually, it is my business -- but, apparently Chelsea and her first serious boyfriend (Matthew Pierce) just broke up. Oh, poor kid. According to the New York Post (who, by the way, calls Monica "The Portly Pepperpot" ) Chelsea and the "strapping swim team star" had been pegged as an item since last May. Pierce had even met the First Parents (I don't want any of you to complain about the stress of the same milestone in your lives ever again). But sources say that last week "a teary-eyed Chelsea went to the campus medical center complaining of shortness of breath and clutching her forehead...she said she was under a lot of stress...One friend suggested that when [her father] confessed his dalliance with [the pepperpot] on national television in August, the young couple suffered. 'Chelsea was devastated , and she leaned on Matt heavily when they came back up this term. All of a sudden he had to be like this knight in shining armor for her. The pressure was too much.'"

No doubt.

Oh, and did you also know that Carolyn Starr (spawn of Ken) is a freshman at Stanford this year?

Poor, poor First Breakup. Someone get that girl a Furby.

Really, Chelsea's got it worse than, like, Buffy. I mean, which is worse: having your mom date the occasional Mandroid, or having your dad -- while married to your mom -- date an intern young enough to be your RA? On national television?

Actually, I don't know which is more insulting to the wife/mom: a Clinton -- the classic May/December (click here for precise dates) -- or a Charles: where you're married to the sweet young thing, but you date the frumpy housewife.

In one sense, the Charles thing is at least more logical. Here's why: Clinton reportedly told Monica that she helped him "feel young." How does that work? Wouldn't someone younger make you feel older?

MONICA: "Lookit! I scored the new Korn CD! It's totally fresh!"
BILL: "Huh?"

See, it's counterintuitive. I mean, Breakup Girl remembers feeling positively rheumatic around people who could tell the difference between Corey Haim and Corey Feldman. I want to feel young, I'll date Ralph Macchio (isn't he, like, 47?).

Anyway, whatever. Point is: surely the age factor helped make this one grodier-than-ever for our Chelsea. More power to ya, kiddo, for not spitefully "acting out" and doing something twisted like dating your professor. Or the Starr kid. Keep on keepin' on, sweetie: talk to your mom, or someone else's. Treasure your true friends. There will be other strapping sources of strength. And remember, Breakup Girl is watching over you -- and dedicating this column to you.

Age: Some Enlightenment

In a relationship, is a big generation gap inherently icky?

My answer: You tell me.

As in: is your age difference an element of the relationship, or is it the defining factor?

Like, is the core draw that he is a George Michaelicious Father Figure? Or that she is super-Mrs. Robinsonic? Or the other way around?

To put it another way: if you two were roughly the same age, would all of the thrill be gone?

Because no, a big age difference is not by definition suspect, unless you are Anna Nicole Smith. Sure, when there's a True Connection, age difference is downgraded to mere circumstance. And yes, Oedipus and Electra are allowed to play bit parts in your dynamic as a couple.

BUT. Lolita/o is not. AND. When the age gap is the main event, there's probably something going on there [insert admittedly facile pop-psych blame-the-parents theory] other than -- dare I say in place of -- actual, equal partnership.

One more useful concept, courtesy of BG's friend Louise. Depending on what you're looking for, it's not how old they are, it's how done they are. Done as in cooked. Ready. Steady. As in: sense of self no longer runny. Sense of purpose firm. Toxins [mostly] destroyed in heat of past moments. The key: someone can be warmed through at 25; frozen on the inside at 45. So when in doubt, skip the math; test for doneness.

And now for the age questions you raised in your letters. Just let me find my reading glasses.



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