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Jewish World Review July 26, 2002 / 17 Menachem-Av, 5762

Michelle Kennedy

Michelle Kennedy
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Consumer Reports

My Martha Stewart fantasy | "Good morning," the familiar, chipper voice says from inside the TV tube. "This morning we will be making our standard breakfast here in Cell Block H, using some chickweed and dandelion greens I gathered in the courtyard during our last romp outside."

My heavy, morning eyes are now wide awake. Is it? It couldn't be. But, of course, it is. Martha's broadcasting from "inside."

Obviously gathering fodder for her memoir, she goes on to tell us how she made the gravel in the courtyard and the water from the water fountain into a "smashing lily pond."

"Of course, I have to pretend that these dandelions are water lilies, but I am sure you can get the real thing at your local nursery."

Poor Martha Stewart. You almost have to feel sorry for her, don't you? After all, she has worked so hard. Can't you just see her toiling away night after night, day after day on her syndicated newspaper column, radio show, magazine, three (count them three) television programs and gearing up for her appearances on Rosie O'Donnell?

One night she could be writing while mixing paint for her designer line. The next she could be answering spot removal questions on the air while evaluating the benefits of the next whisk for her line of housewares.

"As we move into the laundry room, we can see that Ramona here is using a standard powder-based laundry soap for all of our fine linens. I will sprinkle a potpourri of this fresh wild lavender that I had my publicist smuggle in for us - no sense in us being animals in here - into the powder to give it a wonderful, line-dried fragrance. Lavender. It's a good thing."

I want to think, "Oh gag me, Martha." Don't we all, most of the time.

But really we're thinking, "What a trooper." Because through it all, we really wish we had Martha's ambition and determination.

That's what keeps us coming back. Martha is a one-word name, like Cher, Oprah or Madonna. Martha is the female MacGyver. Armed with a glue gun and the buttons off her (or your) shirt, Martha could decorate her way out of her kidnapper's car trunk.

And we alternately love her and hate her. We love her because she has taken homemaking and made it an art - as well as a viable job. But we hate her because she's, well, just so damned perfect. While Martha's on the tube making the perfect eight-course meal for "a few friends who decided to drop by," my kids and I are on the living room floor slurping up Lucky Charms before soccer practice.

But there is always a hope, a wee glimmer, that we could do that stuff if we wanted. We could make all of our meals from scratch. We could create grandiose Halloween costumes and glorious Easter Egg hunts, if only we sit down and pay attention.

There is, however, something gloriously gluttonous in watching Martha squirm in the hot seat. How can someone so "practically perfect in everyway," - herself a former stock broker - possibly believe that the insider trading rules don't apply to her? Whether she did it or not, it's nice to see Martha get ratcheted down a couple of notches.

My perfect Martha-esque world would see Martha right alongside me in aisle 9, shopping for that "must-have" parchment paper in the KMart she professes to love and stand behind, but will never actually be seen in.

In fact, let that be Martha's sentence. Don't send her to jail. Send her to the mall with only $200 to her name and four hungry kids who whine for toys but need school clothes. Add to that a car payment on a used minivan (instead of $42,000 Range Rover) and a husband with a golf fetish, and see how she gets along. See if that ever makes it on HGTV.

Ahh, wouldn't that be a good thing?

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JWR contributor Michelle Kennedy, who reads and responds to all of her mail, is a reporter and columnist for the Green Bay News-Chronicle. Comment by clicking here.


06/25/02: Deliver us from Walt
06/06/02: This game fits parents to a tee
05/09/02: "Shut up!" "Stop shoving!" it's Mother's Day
04/18/02: Yes, They're All Mine!
03/25/02: Thrust into a Barbie dreamland
02/01/02: Shooting the 'surplus population'
12/20/01: Zen and the Art of Clutter
12/14/01: Confessions of a serial library fine payer
12/06/01: Too good at my job, I quit

© 2001, Michelle Kennedy