School of life
No break up is easy, but this one hit me really hard. For the longest time I thought everything was fine. Then suddenly rumors started swirling around about trouble in paradise. Before I could even get my arms around what the problems were and whether they were fixable, BAM! Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s split was front page news.
Demi and Ashton were my Celebrity Role Model Couple. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what a CRMC is, let me explain. Your CRMC is a famous couple chosen by you because they best represent you and your significant other in your current relationship.
But having a CRMC isn’t just fun and games. By identifying and processing issues in your CRMC’s relationship, you learn to better identify and process issues in your own relationship. It’s kind of like Celebrity Sims: Relationship Edition. Entertaining and educational.
I adopted my first CRMC several years ago when my daughter was little and I was trapped in a bad marriage. I chose Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes for obvious reasons. Tom Cruise was a control freak. The tabloids were all worried about Katie being trapped in a bad relationship. Tom seemed threatened by Katie’s close bond with her family and tried to limit her family’s role in her life. Katie was Catholic but Tom was a member of a group that seemed part cult, part religion. I could relate to all of that.
Later, when Tom and Katie had their daughter Suri, people wondered if Katie would ever be able to break free from the jail that Tom had her in, which was exactly how I felt. But unlike Katie, I was able to escape. And when I did, I made a clean break and left TomKat behind like a mangy stray.
After my divorce I started to date Clint. Clint is younger than me by more than a few years. And my then-neighbor’s exceptionally bright four year old daughter said she thought I Iooked like Demi. (This was long before Demi’s alarming weight loss.)
I was initially uneasy about the age difference between Clint and me; but from what I gathered from the tabloids, things seemed to be working well for Demi and her much younger husband Ashton. After a brief courtship, I made it official: Demi and Ashton became Clint’s and my CRMC.
Things were great between the four of us. Clint and I went as Demi and Ashton for Halloween. I enjoyed Ashton’s work in those clever Nikon commercials. So, when they dumped each other — and by extension us — I was devastated.
What did this mean for Clint and me? Were our days numbered too? Was I destined to make a fool out of myself then check into rehab, while Clint enjoyed renewed professional success, a turbo-charged love life, and a dramatic surge in popularity?
One thing was certain: A couple without a CRMC was a couple in jeopardy. I had to find another CRMC — but who? You can’t just pick any old celebrity couple. It has to be a couple that you actually have things in common with — things that you can cite to support their designation as your CRMC.
Clint and I drifted along for seven perilous months unmoored by the grounding influence of a CRMC. It’s not like I was okay with this — I was working overtime to find a suitable replacement. I scoured People Magazine and Us Weekly each and every time I went to the nail salon. But with our age difference, my colorful past and our traditional-yet-unconventional present, we weren’t exactly your garden-variety couple. One of those dime-a-dozen, Tori Spelling/Dean McDermott-type combos just wouldn’t work.
At my daughter's suggestion, I briefly flirted with British “It” couple, William and Kate. They had their act together and were hands-down adorable. But as cute as I like to think Clint and I are together, with our quirky lives and lack of interest in the finer things, we bore no resemblance to the twenty-something royal newlyweds. In fact, William and Kate would be a more suitable CRMC for my son and his girlfriend than Clint and me.
Next I considered Samantha Bee and Jason Jones, the husband-and-wife reporter team from the Daily Show. On the plus side, they are not spring chickens like Will and Kate. And they also have an irreverent sense of humor — something Clint and I share.
But there were drawbacks, too. The tabloids never seem to cover them, a fact that bodes well for the success of their marriage but makes it almost impossible to keep up with them — which is half the fun of having a CRMC. And there was a coverage problem of a different kind: Samantha is a blond, which made it hard for me to identify with her.
Then I finally caught a break. I was at the nail salon researching the latest crop of celebrity gossip magazines when a story about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie caught my attention.
As I read the article I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t thought of them earlier. The similarities were as obvious as they were numerous.
Brad and Angelina’s relationship has a mix of traditional and nontraditional elements. They seem very devoted to their family and dedicated to providing their children with a stable upbringing. But with of mix of six children — some biological and some adopted — born in five different countries, they are hardly the family next door.
Clint and I have a pretty normal life that’s primarily centered around our family. But given that I’m in my forties, Clint is in his thirties, my son is in his twenties and my daughter is a tweenager, our family vegetation is more beanstalk than tree.
Angelina and Brad do a lot of work for humanitarian causes around the world, and Angelina has served in different UN ambassador positions. Clint has traveled extensively, studied International Human Rights at University of Cape Town in South Africa, and currently serves on a committee that is committed to providing legal services to the poor.
When Brad and Angelina first started dating, she was a single mother with one son. Brad jumped in with both feet and totally embraced his role in her son’s life, eventually even adopting him. When Clint entered the picture, Hannah was only seven. While it’s neither necessary nor possible for Clint to adopt Hannah since she already has an adoring dad, that hasn’t stopped Hannah from claiming Clint as her step dad to anyone who will listen.
But the story in People Magazine wasn’t a retrospective piece about Brad and Angelina. It was about an exciting new development: After seven years of togetherness, Brad and Angelina had finally gotten engaged.
This was cover story-worthy news not just because they are mega-celebrities, but because Brad and Angelina had originally vowed they wouldn’t tie the knot until all couples could get married, regardless of gender or orientation. While advances have been made in the area of marriage of equality, it’s not yet time to pop the bubbly. Brad and Angelina’s engagement seemed like a parallel move acknowledging this progress. They haven’t set a date to walk down the aisle, but they’ve taken a step in that direction.
This change in position also reminds me of my own relationship. When Clint and I first started dating, neither one of us had any interest in getting married. But four years later we now talk in terms of when rather than if.
Responding to a question about why they changed their mind, Brad said that they were “getting a lot of pressure from the kids,” and that the kids were on him to “get Mommy a ring” and get married.
I know the feeling. Hannah’s not-so-subtle hints have grown into full-blown demands — and more recently she’s taken to adding deadlines. “You guys HAVE to get married before I go to high school. Okay? It’s HAPPENING.”
But despite all the things we have in common with Brangelina, there are some differences, too. Brad was married before, while Clint has never taken the plunge. Angelina has an obvious affection for tattoos, while I have a strong aversion to them. Angelina can be a bit on the freaky side, while I am definitely more uptight. But I like to think those differences will make us stronger. And in the areas that really matter, we are totally simpatico.
So, the waiting is finally over and we have been rewarded with not one but two reasons to celebrate: Brad and Angelina are finally engaged and Clint and I finally have a replacement CRMC!
Without further ado allow me to introduce our new CRMC-inspired name: Clintina.
I like the ring of that.