Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Endings, happy and otherwise

By Bob Gaydos
There is an art to ending things -- careers, relationships, jokes, movies, books, TV shows and yes, even lives.
As a rule, most of us pay too little attention to figuring out how to end something, perhaps because we just don’t like to think about it when we‘re in the middle of whatever it is. The result is most often boring, routine. Hardly artistic.
“Thanks for the 35 years, Joe. Hope your 401k holds up.”
“I, uh, think maybe we should spend a little less time together.”
“He died in his sleep. He was 77.”
In truth, just as we give little thought to how to end our own things, we seldom notice other people’s endings, except when someone gets it unmistakably right (“Casablanca,” Johnny Carson or “The Usual Suspects”), or painfully wrong (“The Sopranos,” Joe Louis or Brett Favre).
Take Kim and Kris Kardashian. I mean, uh, Humphries. Or rather, Kim Kardashian and Kris “What the Heck Happened to My Life” Humphries. After a mere 72 days of marriage, the TV reality star announced her marriage to the pro basketball player was done.
"After careful consideration,” she said in a prepared statement, “I have decided to end my marriage. I hope everyone understands this was not an easy decision. I had hoped this marriage was forever but sometimes things don't work out as planned. We remain friends and wish each other the best."
Careful consideration? Sometimes thing don’t work out? 72 days? That’s quick even for Liz and Zsa Zsa, although well off Britney’s record.
Humphries says he was “blindsided” and found out about it from a TV show. Either this was the worst example of how to end a marriage or the cleverest ploy to juice the ratings for a TV show. Or, as I suspect, both.
Humphries, an oak tree of a rebounder for the New Jersey, soon-to-be-Brooklyn, Nets, comes off looking like a grade A schlemiel in this. He bought her a ring for $2 million, is a free agent in a sport whose owners have locked out the players and he may not see a paycheck for a year, and, well, he apparently never really got the whole Kardashian created-for-TV family empire.
When nothing is too personal, too sensitive or too intimate to share with millions of strangers, then someone is bound to get hurt. Kardashian has had a sex tape posted on the web and had her famous behind X-rayed to prove it was not enhanced. )“Mom, Dad, you know Kim …“) Her stepfather, former Olympic star Bruce Jenner, has had his face remodeled beyond recognition to blend in. The wedding, every bit of it shown on TV, cost $10 million, but some reports say the family made a profit on it from all the media deals.
And, of course, they had a pre-nup.
Kardashian filed for divorce Oct. 31, citing “irreconcilable differences.” Considering that Humphries is two feet taller than her, that should have been obvious from the start. Even so, it would have been nice -- dare I say, decent -- if, before telling the Twitter world about the divorce, Kim had given Kris the news face-to-face (sitting down), without any cameras. But then, that would not have been the Kardashian way.
On the other hand, there is the Tony La Russa way of saying goodbye. Aces all around for the St. Louis Cardinals’ longtime manager, who guided his team through a remarkable end of season comeback that put them in the World Series and saw them winning it thanks to more remarkable comebacks. No sooner had the cheering and champagne ceased in America’s heartland, than La Russa announced he was retiring. Bam! On top. Winner of his third World Series as a manager. Sayonara baseball.
He wasn‘t sticking around to hear any more criticisms of his sometimes odd moves in the series. No more reading about his control freak nature in dealing with pitchers. No more having to put up with reporters who want to ask annoying questions after every game. Pack my bags, I’m bound for Cooperstown.
And so he is and, control freak that he really is, he did it on his own terms. You gotta give him credit for that.
But for sheer genius, the award for the classiest ending in recent weeks has to go to the certified genius who left us far too soon, Steve Jobs. The man behind the Apple empire and all it has spawned, died of cancer last month at 56. In a eulogy delivered during a memorial service, his sister revealed Jobs’ final words: “Wow. Oh wow. Oh wow!"
Move over “Rosebud.” We have a new winner.

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