A MAN, A SQUASH & MARTHA STEWART

Like a lot of guys, I don’t get the whole Martha Stewart thing. To me, sheets are sheets, artichokes are artichokes, and as long as the quarterback doesn’t throw any interceptions, I’m happy.

Then last week, I interviewed Martha Stewart, on radio, for her new book about building a business.

When I came home, I told my wife and a female friend the news. And both of them gushed, almost in unison, “You were nice to her, weren’t you?”

Well, I said, she did go to jail.

“You were nice to her, weren’t you?”

This time the question was more threatening, as in, “If you weren’t nice to her, we’re going to hang you.”

But that stock thing?

“Her taste is exquisite! Her sheets are the best! Her magazine is beautiful!”

She was plugging a book, I said.

“Really! Did you bring one home?”

It’s all about the sheets

Here is how the interview went. I said, “Hello, Martha,” and I told her, up front, that I had been critical after the conviction for obstructing justice and lying to investigators. I wanted to be honest. And she said, “Thank you.”

Then she talked about squash.

Well, first she talked about some women she met in jail and how she helped them with their business ideas, even though one idea was for a combination hair salon/restaurant, which, personally, would have me checking my food.

She referred to her “five months of an unplanned sabbatical,” which is the nicest phrase for “prison” I’ve ever heard. And, she insisted, “I did not have to go to jail, but I chose to go so that I could put an end to the entire thing.”

She said, “I haven’t had a day off” since coming home. And she denied being overexposed, despite two TV shows, a satellite radio channel and seemingly countless magazines and merchandise lines.

“We’re not everywhere,” she said. “We’re not making iPods.”

Good. How many new models can we take?

At one point she asked me, “Do you sleep on sheets?” I said yes – although I had to think about it for a second – and she replied, “I think it’s terribly important to have really beautiful sheets that are affordable and soft and not scratchy, that you don’t feel like you’re crawling into a hair shirt every night.”

I don’t even know what a “hair shirt” is. I imagine you wear it at that salon/restaurant place.

Criticizing the critics

Anyhow, Martha Stewart was very nice and peppy, and she did speak about squash -“warty squash,” which I won’t go into – but then she said something that stunned me. She said her “naysayers” were more women than men and that was “because a lot of women who feel inadequate are journalists.”

Huh?

“They probably spend their time being journalists and not being homemakers …” she said. “I think they feel inadequate. … That’s why they criticize the lovely things we do.”

Now, I am not a woman. But I am a journalist. And I know many female journalists. And they are hardly inadequate. And they certainly harbor no anger for not being a full-time homemakers.

Besides, Martha isn’t a homemaker, either. She’s a homemaker industry. If someone told her all she could do was make the recipes she sold or pay for the sheets she designed, she might say, “Who are you to keep me down?”

I don’t know how women feel about “inadequate” but as a guy, them’s fighting words.

So I would fight back. I would ask Martha if she thought female doctors or judges felt inadequate, because they couldn’t be homemakers. I would question if everyone is equally dazzled by carving a pumpkin. I’d point out that if all Martha did were “lovely things” she wouldn’t have dirtied her hands with the stock market.

But then, I’m a guy. What do I know? I’m lucky to sleep on a sheet.

Contact MITCH ALBOM at 313-223-4581 or albom@freepress.com. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 3-6 weekdays on WJR-AM (760).

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