October 7, 2005

So until Wednesday my new dream in life–new as of three weeks ago–was to appear on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. I would be an absolutely terrible player on this show, you understand; as a team leader I would micromanage my project into oblivion, and as a member of the team I would make terrible entrepreneurial choices while secretly holding everyone else in contempt and disdain for their terrible entrepreneurial choices. I would be fired almost immediately.

Whereupon Martha Stewart would send me a handwritten letter, which would of course be the whole point of the exercise. The possession of such a document would be the pinnacle of my earthly existence; it wouldn’t matter what happened to me afterwards, into what pits of despair I plummeted, because I would already have been made the happiest of men.

But then, Wednesday evening, something terrible happened, something that not only shattered my dream but also would have shaken the foundations of my belief in a just world if I had harbored any such belief. At the end of the show, during Shawn’s exit after being fired–an exit she accomplished with an extraordinary amount of aplomb, I thought, especially given her incredibly shoddy sales performance, although of course the wedding cake she’d had to pitch was so hideous I was secretly with her on that one–the last sentence of Martha Stewart’s voiced-over letter was, “You, as you build your career, will find this business lesson to be valid and true.” This is how I know Martha Stewart writes the letters herself; if her staff wrote them, they would have at least a soup๏ฟฝon of grace, but they do not.

As Shawn opened the door of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia to go back out into the cold, cruel world, however, the camera cut back to Martha Stewart signing the letter she’d just read aloud to us. Something disturbing caught my eye, so I rewound my DVR and paused the image.

And yes, there it was. The actual last sentence of the letter read, “You, as you build career, will find this business lesson to be valid and true.”

As you build career.


It’s not so much that Martha Stewart made a mistake; I can accept that. I understand that even she, like the rest of us, is human and therefore fallible. I will go so far as to admit that I myself make a mistake every once in a great, great while. Nothing so gauche as “as you build career,” mind you, but still, I do not judge her for the slip itself.

I judge her for letting us see it. That’s what I don’t understand. On the infinitesimally few occasions I have erred, eliminating both evidence and witnesses was so obvious a next step as to be beneath mentioning.

I guess that’s the difference between Martha Stewart and me.

As soon as she realized what had happened–which she must have, if she made the change during the voice-over–why, oh, why did she not insist they reshoot the scene, and write the letter without the mistake? Why did she let all America witness her shame and degradation? Or, if the whole thing somehow slipped through her fingers, why are the papers not now filled with news of her suicide?

A pillar of strength has been toppled, and I’m going to go drink myself into a stupor.

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23 Responses to So until Wednesday my new

  1. Monica says:

    I, too, shared your dream. I had figured that having once sold $200/yard lace and being able to say, “Polyester has come such a long way,” with a straight face more than qualified me.
    Do you think a copy of the letter exists on the internet? You could print it out, make the corrections in red, and send it Martha, Etc., Inc.
    That might even get you on the next season of the show!

  2. Phil says:

    It’s good to have you back.

  3. anapestic says:

    I’m afraid I must take you to task for this entry, Faustus. It is, certainly, very gracious of you to say that there have been a few occasions where you have erred, but your readers all know that you are grammatically and syntactically infallible. Thus, while you might think that you have some idea as to how you might feel if you were in Martha’s position, you cannot be certain. We can all speculate about how we’d react if the earth’s rotation reversed direction suddenly, but since it will never happen, we’ll never truly know.

  4. Mush says:

    Welcome back, you. The Internet’s a cold place when you’re gone.

    P.S. It’s just TV, you know. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Brian says:

    Oh, and what was that about eliminating the evidence?

    [evidence eliminated by Faustus]

    I love you Faustus.

  6. Brian says:

    Oh no you didn’t!

  7. Of course I did, Brian. I love you too, but I have a reputation to protect.

    Solve for some value of reputation, that is.

    I love you too.

  8. Oscar says:

    Slowly the stress of prison life has begun to pull at the thread of Martha Stewart’s mind. It’s good thing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  9. matt says:

    Tsk, Faustus, we know you don’t drink.

  10. Jackie says:

    ” valid and true” That is not even making sense. Arguments are valid. Statements are true. Lessons are neither. Oh this idol has feet of clay!

  11. Jannah says:

    At least she noticed the possible typo in the letter and orally corrected it.

    Rather than be a dumb blond and read the letter word per word.

    At least give her that much credit ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Jess says:

    Perhaps she’ll only learn of her error when she reads your blog (which I can only imagine she must). So the suicide may follow shortly.

  13. Ruby says:

    I have an idea. Send your discovery to a newspaper or, lol, CNN. Whatever. You can become famous. Maybe they’ll fire Martha and hire you instead!
    You’ll never know until you try

  14. Ruby says:

    and when you DO become famous, please hire me, my kob sucks!

  15. Ruby says:

    I meant job*

  16. Martha says:

    I’m afraid I have to kill you now.

  17. David says:

    Damn, but you’re back with a vengeance.

  18. matt says:

    well, building a career must be difficult on any level.

    Wow — I guess I’ve been under a rock. just did a google — I didn’t know Martha Stewart was even out of jail much less hosting her own TV show!

    What else is happening in the world of pop culture that I am missing?!?!?!

    I do know that Kate Bush returns next month and, I think, we have a new “offering” from Robbie Williams — but that is about all I know of. Oy!

  19. Ashley says:

    I really enjoy your writing. It’s very witty and structured. Would you be willing to link me? I just started blogging and want to build up my blog network. Of course, I would add you as well.

  20. Mike B. says:

    Are you sure “build career” isn’t an idiom? Maybe it’s considered correct wherever Martha was raised.

  21. birdfarm says:

    I’m thinking that the reality of this situation is perhaps juicier and more multi-faceted than is dreamt of in your philosophy.

    Consider. A CEO of a massive, successful enterprise becomes such in part because she is good at prioritizing, i.e., good at spending more time on important things, less time on less important things, and no time on unimportant things.

    In her estimation, the error was not worth the time required to go back and reshoot. This indicates, more than anything, the utter lack of importance of the letter’s intended recipient.

    So you see, it’s actually a big insult to Shawn.

    Viewed from this angle, the whole incident takes on a certain evil, sparkling beauty, no?

    However, I do have to agree with Jackie about “valid and true.” Ugh.

  22. michelle says:

    maybe you’d like to tell her yourself

  23. So until Wednesday my new dream in life–new as of three weeks ago–was to appear on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.

    What an amazing coincidence! My dream in life is to see Martha Stewart die in some kind of freak pine-cone-explosion accident. Glitter can be involved, somehow.

    I agree, that’s kind of odd. The level of control you have, even in reality tv, makes me wonder if this wasn’t a calculated mistake; trying to game Martha (or the show’s) image somehow.


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