Thursday, February 5, 2009

How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Girls Next Door


Today's guest blogger is a new member, Kathleen Pugh. I met Kathleen in the summer. She was new to the Center and had plenty of questions. Then, a couple weekends ago, we happened to be in the same one-day workshop on the personal essay (with Anne Cassidy). She submitted this piece, and I enjoyed it. Naturally I thought of First Person Plural and asked her if she'd be interested in letting me post it. I guess she was. Enough of me. Here's Kathleen:

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I have a secret.

I love reality TV. Not just any reality TV but really bad reality TV. I never got hooked on mainstream reality TV like American Idol or Survivor but rather the real low-brow type, most particularly The Girls Next Door on the E! Channel. If you are not familiar with “The Girls,” think of it as a deranged documentary that chronicles the daily lives of Hef and his three girlfriends, Holly, Bridget, and Kendra; that’s Hugh Hefner of Playboy fame.

The show is like a bad accident on the freeway. You know the one where you don’t want to look but you just can’t help yourself? You might think: Who are these people? What happened to them? Will they be OK? It’s the same thing with The Girls Next Door. I want to know everything about them. The inner voice tells me to pick up the remote and switch channels but somehow, like the freeway accident, I have to look.

As you judge me keep in mind that I have an M.B.A, read the New York Times, and live in a metro area with the highest concentration of PhDs in the nation. I’m actually quite a snob and get scolded by my husband for my condescending attitude toward the kind of people who drink White Zinfandel and consider the Olive Garden a five star restaurant. These are the type of people that would waste their time watching reality TV- not me. Surprisingly, he has no interest in “The Girls."

This seems strange to me. A show about a rich man living with three scantily clad gorgeous young blondes in the famed Playboy Mansion would seem more suited to the average straight male than me, a self proclaimed feminist. I don’t really know why I’m so fascinated by them. I know I should be outraged but instead I sort of admire these “Girls.” Maybe it’s their business arrangement I respect. They are young and beautiful and use their “assets” natural or otherwise to make lots of money from just hanging out with Hef.

Could this fascination be a rebellion? Life is competitive and stressful in this city I call home. So competitive in fact that I have actually camped out overnight to get tickets to an Easter egg roll for my four-year-old daughter. The playground chatter can even be stressful as it often revolves around foreign policy and financial bailouts; now that strikes me as a bit too heady. In this stressed out world I need a little fluff. I know there must be others of you out there who anxiously await each new episode but are afraid to come out of the closet. If you’re out there, please call me. We could form our own society and call ourselves the Feminist Friends of Frivolous Fluff.

From what I’ve heard, and yes I have researched this, Holly (girlfriend number one) is the only one that sleeps with Hef. I actually confirmed this with a friend of a friend who knows someone who knows one of the girlfriends! It makes sense because on the show she is the only one that shares a room with him. Kendra and Bridget, the other two girls, are paid for their time. For this they get to live in “the mansion” rent free, receive an allowance for clothing, plastic surgery and cars, access to all the A list parties and trips to Europe, New York, and Las Vegas. It sounds like a pretty good gig to me sans the eighty-two year old boyfriend in the smoking jacket. It certainly is an unconventional lifestyle, but it seems to work very well for them. It’s the ultimate fantasy. Who wouldn’t want to be pampered, go to parties, get driven around in a limo, live in a mansion, and have an adoring public? It sounds a bit like being the president of the United States without the stress!

When I recently heard that Holly and Hef broke up and all the girls would be going their separate ways I was actually sad. Poor Hef! (Oh wait, that means there’s an opening for the girlfriend job!)

I digress.

I was sadder yet when I imagined the impending loss of my innocent weekly appointment with escapism and the effects it would have on my stress level. What was to become of me? My girls? How would I fill the void? The good news is that all three of them will have spin offs. Now that sounds deliciously dreadful. I might have to get a digital video recorder so I can keep up with all the antics. So there you have it, that’s my dirty little secret. Dare to share yours?

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Kathleen Wise Pugh has a BA in English from SUNY Binghamton and an MBA from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She has done everything from working in finance in the casino industry in Las Vegas to working as a bureaucrat in Washington, DC. She is currently a stay at home mom to one very precocious four year old who gives her lots of inspiration for her writing. Her ten minute plays have been performed at Theater J, The Theater Lab, and Nevada State College. Kathleen is originally from Brooklyn, NY and currently resides in the lovely but oftentimes stressful Washington, DC. She is an enthusiastic student of The Writer╩╝s Center because without it she might succumb to watching too many hours of bad reality TV!

1 comment:

Heather Fitzpatrick said...

This is a message for Kathleen. I am obsessed with The Housewives of Beverly Hills...
Escapism comes in all packages. Mine? Botoxed women with breast implants who's carbon footprint would leave most of us suffocating!
Why? Why? Why do these disgusting women intrigue me so? I can only guess that it is so far removed from who I really am, that I find it fascinating.
Rock on with your Girls Next Door watching...