Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it, tweeted Jon Ronson, a man I’d never heard of until his quip about spaghetti. I read about the tweet in a newspaper, as I’ve never used social media — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram — and hope that I never will. Why would I, unless I wanted to make trouble for myself? Not everyone needs to know what you’re doing all of the time. Or any of the time, for that matter.
They say that the most destructive four-letter word in the digital domain is ‘send’. (Just as the scariest three words in American literature are Joyce Carol Oates.) I recently received an email from a young woman I’ve occasionally taken out to dinner calling me all sorts of names. According to her, I had propositioned her and offered her money. By email, that is. That, I can guarantee you, I had not done, but I didn’t bother to reply as I hadn’t emailed her in the first place. The only thing I know how to do is to send and receive emails. I have no way of knowing if someone had used my name to proposition the young woman, or if one can pretend to be someone else while emailing. And I don’t care to find out.
And while I’m at it, I have yet to see a single person reading a newspaper — God forbid a book — as I walk the streets of New York on the Upper East Side every day. But what I have seen are people punching away at those ghastly contraptions inside Shakespeare & Co, a bookstore I have morning coffee in from time to time. Just think of it: people use those idiotic machines inside a place that sells books. It’s a bit like masturbating inside a whorehouse.
What kind of person needs to tell another what he or she is thinking all of the time? An idiot, that’s for sure. Are more and more people becoming idiotic? Definitely. The other thing I’ve noticed, although it’s been around for some time, is the absence of civility in sport. I am referring to the self-aggrandisement that has overwhelmed almost all sport. I have a friend who shall remain nameless for his own protection. He is the first person you see after a match with a microphone interviewing winners and losers. He probably knows more athletes than anyone else on earth, and this is what he recently told me. The only two that have ever shown any interest in him and his family by inquiring about their whereabouts and the state of their health are Roger Federer and Usain Bolt. I was not surprised at the mention of the former, but I admit I was amazed when he mentioned the Jamaican sprinter. Good for him. The fastest man on earth takes the time for the formalities that make human beings different from the animals we resemble most of the time. My friend told me that he once had a terrible cold in Beijing and tried to keep as far away as possible from those he was interviewing in order for them not to catch it. Not a single one noticed. His cold, that is. ‘It’s all me, me, me,’ said my friend.
Just see for yourselves the next time some jock is being interviewed. They will bang their chest with their fist and use the word ‘I’ while glaring at the camera. I suppose this comes from the coaches — the solipsism, I mean. I’ll never forget the first time I heard this drivel at Wimbledon. I was there as a spectator and an American male player had lost a match. A man I presumed was his coach — unheard of back then — was holding his head with both hands and repeating the phrase, ‘You’re strong, you’re strong, you’re unbeaten,’ and other such drivel. This was back in the Seventies. Now they all have coaches and at all levels. Instilling confidence is the sine qua non of coaching, hence the solipsism and the me, me, me syndrome. Oh, for the good old days when Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall battled on Centre Court without once looking up at the boxes and punching their chests.
I could go on and on, but it would be useless. One cannot bring back the past, and one shouldn’t try. Manners have changed. They no longer exist. Countries such as Britain and the United States have media that pollute the culture like never before. A great behemoth of a man, an ex-basketball star, snorts cocaine, takes herbal Viagra and drinks himself into a stupor before falling into a coma inside a whorehouse. An ugly estranged wife with a propensity for publicity rushes to his side in a Las Vegas hospital. It becomes a stop-the-presses moment. An anxious Anglo-Saxon world waits with baited breath. Actually, I was hoping that a double suicide would rid us of that troublesome couple, but no such luck.
Never mind. Life is still pretty good. Next week I shall be a film star once again. I am shooting a movie with, you guessed it, Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore directed by Michael Mailer. Two guesses why I got the part?