Jack Ohman

Monica Lewinsky at 40: the tie that binds...

So, there was this girl who used to work in a tie shop at Pioneer Place in downtown Portland.

I used to walk by this tie shop quite frequently in the early 1990s. Before I moved to California, where ties are apparently illegal, I used to look at ties all the time. I think I own several hundred of them now. If I had taken all the money I had spent on ties and put the money into Oracle, I would have a more secure retirement. 

This particular tie shop featured a very vivacious, dark-haired girl who was very charismatic. She had an arresting eyes and a captivating smile. One day, I went into the tie shop.

The tie shop featured mostly garish, wiseguy-type cravats, which I don't care for, being a repressed Minnesotan. I liked Kennedyish stripes and small patterns. I picked up a tie and looked at it. It was nice, but I thought it a bit wide.

"Do you want that one? You would look great in that with that suit," the girl at the tie shop said.

"No, thanks, but you sure have a nice smile," I said, or something like that. I walked out of the tie shop.

Over the course of a few weeks, I suppose, I would see this girl sitting in the shop, but the store was mostly empty, and it closed down after awhile. I never saw the girl again.

One night, when I was watching the news, and the news about President Clinton having an affair with a young woman broke. They showed her picture.

It was the girl in the tie shop.

Today, the girl in the tie shop turns 40, and it seems like she's been around forever.

Monica Lewinsky had been a student at Lewis and Clark, putting herself through school by, among others things, working at the store I often passed.

Not too long ago, I heard that  Lewinsky was back in Portland, looking hard for work. She had gotten a masters from the London School of Economics, and I knew people who saw her around town. In fact, according to a well-connected friend, she had come very close to getting a job at a major advertising firm when one of the principals shot her down. Too much trouble, I was told. No way.

She finally went back to New York, defeated in her attempt to land an $80K per year job.

To become a national punchline at 24 is terrible enough, and, God knows, Monica Lewinsky may have gotten some bad career advice, but should this poor woman be blackballed from a normal life? There are now stories floating around New York about her shopping a major new book proposal around about her affair with the again-revered Bill Clinton ($12 mil advance). I hope she doesn't get it. Not that I don't want her to succeed or in any way wish her ill, but this whole narrative is going to get trotted out again, unpleasantly. I wish that the guy in Portland had hired her, which I suspect would have spared us another wave of Monica and Bill humor.

It would be great, say, if Bill Clinton came out and had a more intellectually honest news conference. He could say what compels people to enter into these types of relationships, or say something like, yeah, I really had feelings for her, which I am sure he did. Something better than his pathetic "Listen to me..." news conference, where I had to listen to my single digit age children repeat his infamous "I did not have sex with that woman" trope.

I wish Monica didn't have to go through this. I wish Bill Clinton didn't have to go through this. I wish Hillary Clinton didn't have to go through this. I wish we all didn't have to go through this. It's not really our business. But don't make us go through this once again; it's demeaning to everyone. 

Happy birthday, Monica. I hope you get something cool for your 40th. Something better than a loud tie.