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�on 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.