Bidding on Lot #375 closes at 8 p.m. today. What’s up for auction? “An Extraordinary Lot of Items From Monica Lewinsky — Used by Kenneth Starr in His Case for Impeachment Against Bill Clinton” in 1998.
The story of these goods has many plot twists and surprises. I usually love surprises, but in this case I’m just sad — and I don’t know which is sadder: 1) that her items would be auctioned off at all, or 2) that the anticipated selling price was $50,000, but the current bid is just $8,639 and barely budging with each (scarce) new bidder. And here’s a sad, sad complication: The items have been in the possession of Kathlyn Bleiler, the ex-wife of the high-school teacher with whom Monica was also having an affair. To refresh your 1998 memories (yes, Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy Is Mine” was at the top of the charts, confirming once again that truth is stranger than fiction), Monica had befriended the wife of the other married man she was getting busy with and bestowed upon her gifts like a worn extra-large negligée and a large navy blue velour tracksuit. (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.)
Kathryn kept these items in her divorce from husband Andy (why?), along with letters and a birthday card from Bill Clinton to Andy, written at Monica’s request (why? just because she could?), and a few boxes of slightly crushed presidential M & M’s (ummm …). I don’t know of Kathryn is strapped for cash or doing some spring cleaning or asking herself some serious questions — “Why have I held on to all of this shit and how did it come to me in the first place?” — but rather than use eBay she’s gone to Nate D. Saunders Auction company, which auctions items as diverse as Charles Schultz’s art and “Guns N’ Roses ‘Best Rock Band’ American Music Award From 1991 — Reportedly Used as a Doorstop Due to Axl’s Distaste for Awards.”
I got to meet Bill Clinton twice. In 1992, when Clinton was first running for president, my brother called and said, “Hey, have you heard much about Bill Clinton? He’s got this fabulous romantic story and he’s going to be in Independence Park shaking hands. Let’s go.” I had never met a presidential candidate before, or even been to a rally. Somehow I got right up to the front of the crowd as he moved through shaking hands, squeezing arms, exchanging pleasantries. He was bigger and younger and, let’s cut to the chase, sexier than I ever imagined any of the presidents.
He shook my hand and looked me right in the eyes and said, “I’m very happy to meet you.” Like the dream scene in a movie, the crowd fell away, the sounds dissipated, and Bill Clinton and I were the only two people on the planet. I think my knees actually buckled. I know it took me a moment to get my breath back after he moved on. I remember standing there, coming back to myself, and thinking, Damn, I hope he wins.
I met Clinton again in 2006 when he came to visit Drexel’s campus to promote “Fit Nation.” It was all over — the presidency, Monicagate with its lingering images of blue dresses and cigars, what to make of the saxophone. I was struck by how much older Bill looked, his hair so white, his body thicker-trunked. I listed to the talk, feeling sad and older, and then came the mingling time. I never thought I’d get anywhere near Bill, what with all the handlers and Drexel bigwigs surrounding him, but then, just as I reached for the crudité, there he was. He reached out his hand and before I could stop myself, I feel into his eyes again. Drexel’s cheese and crackers faded out and Bill and I began a twisting ascent straight up in the sky. When someone called his name and he turned his magical eyes away from mine, I fell crashing to the floor (metaphorically) thinking, Damn, 22-year old Monica never stood a chance.
Bill’s impeachment ended with his being acquitted and he got to stay in the White House to rack up other things for his presidency to be remembered by. And now that he’s an ex-president he’s doing even better for himself, earning a reported $60 million through speeches and appearances — more than any other ex president.
And what’s Monica got? She came out of the gate hard and launched a line of handbags, which failed. She hosted some midlevel cable television. She became a Jenny Craig spokesperson and was fired after a few months due to plummeting membership sales. She left the country to get an additional degree from the London School of Economics, but no one will hire her. She’s now 39 years old and living with her mother in L.A.
The solution may be much, much sadder than the auction: Producers of the upcoming revival of reality makeover show The Swan are looking at Lewinsky as a possible participant. She would receive therapy, plastic surgery, a life couch, a wardrobe, and other things that help us transform. (What?) Also on the docket, and maybe competing against Mon? Erin Moran, aka Joanie Cunningham, whose most recent headline was her eviction from a trailer park. God bless America.