I’m sitting at a bar drinking a pint of beer. The bar’s around the corner from my house. It has decent food and cute waitresses. Talk about convenient.
The outside tables are crowded with people getting drunk and smoking cigarettes. I notice many of the revelers are wearing business attire. Most of them look like they came in after work and never left. I glance at my watch. It’s now ten o’clock. I don’t envy the hangovers these guys will be nursing tomorrow. I take a sip of my beer and look up at the TV. The talking heads are jabbering about Paris Hilton.
“I can’t believe they let that bitch out,” the white haired fellow sitting next to me yells. “What kinda justice is that?”
“C’mon,” his drinking buddy says. “My brother had almost the same rap and they let him out of county in four days. They didn’t treat her any different.”
“She got out early ‘cause she’s loaded,” the first man stammers, slapping his hand against the mahogany bar. “She’s doin’ house arrest in a mansion.”
“If I know cops, that sheriff just wanted her out of his hair.”
“She should do the time!” the white haired man yells. “Justice shouldn’t be different for the rich.”
‘Whatcha gonna do?” his friend says, shrugging.
“Whadda you think buddy?” the white haired man asks, poking me with his elbow.
“Brother,” I reply, “I’d be just one more opinion in a sea of opinions.”
“Well, tell us yours.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“The guy’s enjoying his beer,” the white haired man’s friend says. “Leave him alone.”
“No,” the white haired man says, whisky induced belligerence shading his voice. “I want to hear what he has to say.”
“You really want to know my opinion?” I ask.
“How many soldiers got killed in Iraq today?”
“I don’t know,” the man replies.
“How many people died in Darfur today?”
“I don’t know.”
“But everyone knows Paris Hilton’s out of jail. “
“Doesn’t that strike you as fucked up?”
“I guess so.”
“That’s what I think gentleman,” I say, pushing my pint glass to the edge of the bar. “Everything’s fucked up.”
The men stare at me and say nothing. That’s me — the life of the party.
I leave the bar and go home. I could have been more polite but those guys were drunk and I’m in no mood to talk to drunks. When I get home I flop down on the couch and turn on the TV. The chattering classes are still wagging their tongues about Paris Hilton. Disgusted I turn off the TV. I’m not mad at Paris. I’m mad at whatever dynamic makes the media latch onto a hotel heiress’s minor legal troubles at the expense of other, more newsworthy stories. Giving the people what they want I guess.
I sigh to myself. The media’s always been playing this game. It’s been going on since the first newspapers rolled off Gutenberg’s printing press. If Paris Hilton isn’t the one making headlines it’’ll be some other whipping boy like Mel Gibson, Rosie O’Donnell, Alec Baldwin, Pat O’ Brien, or David Hasselhoff — anything to distract us from what really matters.
I guess, when you think about it, we’ll always have someone like Paris.