George Clooney Got Engaged, and We Acted Like Assholes

GeorgeClooneyGeorge Clooney keeps his personal life so private, and held on to his bachelor status for so long, that we, the media-watching world at large, pretty much figured hell would freeze over before he got married again. Plus, that’s what the media told us.

Last week’s announcement of Clooney’s engagement caught us off guard, then, hey? Nope, nope, I never saw it coming, either. Just who is this Amal Alamuddin he’s going to marry, anyway? She sure is purdy. And she’s a lawyer. Who provides consultation to high-powered leaders (Kofi Annan) and represents high-profile cases (Julian Assange). Wow. She’s smart and accomplished, then, too.

This is just about where we–now I’m referring mainly to my female counterparts—threw our sisters under the bus. Because everywhere I turned, the news stories said something like, “it took a woman like Amal to get George to commit,” or “he’s finally met his equal,” or “look at her credentials, it’s no wonder he finally got engaged.” When I saw these sentiments, I totally agreed, and I’m betting I’m in good company.

It was only later I realized that in first assigning such high value to Alamuddin’s education and career, and then nodding my head with regard to the obviousness that it would take a woman like her to “get Clooney to settle down,” I was devaluing the women who dated him prior. Because, as the stories imply, of course Clooney wasn’t going to marry a cocktail waitress (Sarah Larson), or an ex-professional wrestler (Stacy Keibler). And what about the one who had no known career in America to speak of (Elisabetta Canalis)? Gadzooks, this engagement makes perfect sense!

We gotcha… sometimes.

For a woman who is all about supporting other women, and, even bigger, espousing that we are all fundamentally equal on this planet, I sure wasn’t walking the walk.

Of course, this was just celebrity news, and I don’t know any of these women, but that’s part of the point. Who are we—now I’m back to the media-watching world at large, but with special emphasis on my female counterparts—to rank Clooney’s girlfriends in terms of marriage worthiness? We don’t know a single thing about their hearts and souls. God, I feel like calling them up and apologizing on behalf of the world for being such an asshole.

Wait a minute. This has farther-reaching implications. Who else do we do this to? Rather, who else do we profess to support, and yet, nod our heads slyly when one gets a job promotion over another, or when we lose 10 pounds while a gal pal (had to say it, since we started out in “celebrity-talk mode”) gains 20? Or when someone we know gets a degree, and we think, “Oh, it’s only in Arts.”

I do it regularly at the gym. I’m always all like, “It doesn’t matter what shape or size or fitness level you are, it just matters that you’re here,” but then I gloat a bit when I sit down at a weight machine after another woman and can notch the peg a few bars further, to a heavier load.

Here’s the thing: I’m not writing this post to catch the attention of the semi-permanent assholes out there, the people who are so miserable in their own lives that they can’t even barf out a kind word for Mother Teresa. Not my target audience.

My message is aimed at those who are trying to be kind, authentic, supportive people (the way I like to think I am). Yes, we can be assholes, too! But we’re trying. Not to be, I mean. We strive to be kind, authentic, supportive people, so when we fall off the wagon, we don’t need to judge ourselves, we just need to be aware. Watch that thought (or spoken digression). Look at it, turning it like a Rubik’s cube, then scratch your head.  Where is that judgment coming from? What do you think might have made you react that way? (Because it’s so out of character for you! Yes, okay, now I’m sucking up.) Chances are good that it’s stemming from something you feel or believe about yourself, and instead of disposing of that crap at the hazardous waste center, you’re letting it trickle down your driveway and into the main sewage system. Don’t do that. It’s icky, and you know it, because you can feel it.

As for George and Amal, congratulations to them! We wish them much happiness. And that’s enough. Full stop.

Have you teetered across the line into asshole territory lately? Do tell! And change names to protect the innocent.


Unaltered image of George Clooney taken by Angela George and available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.



  1. says

    What? George is getting married? Anyway, Recent asshole,story: I’m a life-long Detroiter, so this is about a car. Not just any car. The car of my dreams. I never cared about cars before beyond “what color is it?” My husband knew original owner, who worked at plant that built the car so it got every step of the line pampering. (Yes, they do that). The guy hadn’t driven it much, it was three years old and looked brand new. It was a creamy color with not only heated seats but air conditioned seats, too. And a “panoramic” sunroof. It was lux and $20K below the new models rolling off the line now. We offered a fair price, didn’t hear back, but every day I asked about “my” car. One day I swung by the dealership, just to see “my” car. There it was! Husband got home from work and said “The car sold.” I waited for him to hand me the keys. He didn’t. “When?” “Two days ago.” “I saw it today! No sold sign! Let’s go there right now. You’ll see.” We found “my” car, but it was no longer for sale. I mourned for a few minutes then snapped out of it. It was just a car. And not a fuel efficient one, either.

    • Laura Zera says

      Aw, sweetie, you’re just a junior asshole! And good job on “letting go” of the car. It’s not just other people who can trigger our less charitable sides; material things bring out the worst in us sometimes, too.

  2. says

    Hi Laura! Yep…I’ve been guilty of this and as you say I’m just happy when I catch myself. I think it stems from (at least my excuse is) a habit of comparing myself with just about everyone else on the planet–women especially. I think we look around at each other constantly to see how we stack up–and either beat ourselves up for failing or pat ourselves on the back for winning.

    Sad huh? I think as I learn to love and appreciate myself more I am more and more kind and compassionate with others. Hopefully that trend will continue.

    Thanks for the reminder to be what I hope to be! ~Kathy
    Kathy @ SMART Living recently posted…25 Quick Tips To Help Right-size Your Diet, Exercise And HealthMy Profile

    • Laura Zera says

      I think you’ve hit on something that almost every woman can relate to, Kathy. And once we can get over the idea that we should have all this stuff sorted out by the time we’re grown-ups or middle-aged or whatever, then recognizing and moving through our human foibles will feel less “deficit-oriented.” Thank you for reading!

  3. Kris McCann says

    Great post, good advice and great reminder. Now you can sit on the other side of the therapist’s desk. :)

    I acted inappropriately to YOU once at the office. You were getting ready to leave for Africa, you were getting lots of attention, as you should, and I made a stupid joke or said something snarky. I think I apologized. If I didn’t. I’m sorry! It can be easy, sometimes, to slide into jealousy. I do notice the happier I am with myself, the less jealousy I feel .

    • Laura Zera says

      Whaaaaat? You mean back in 2007? I do not remember anything snarky coming out of you at all! So whatever you said, it must have bounced right off me… but you’re forgiven. :P

  4. says

    I used to be in denial about being an asshole (probably still am sometimes, but nowadays I catch myself sooner). Nope, not kind-hearted me. Then I took a workshop in which the instructor talked about denial and the cognitive dissonance we feel when we behave in ways we’re not proud of. She taught us to say to ourselves, “Sometimes, I am the kind of person who…(insert whatever assholey thing I do).” The act of acknowledgement helps me catch myself sooner and helps me forgive myself quicker.

    Let’s raise a glass to our fellow sisters–some of whom got to date George Clooney and one who won his heart.
    Jagoda Perich-Anderson, M.A. recently posted…Unprofessional TextingMy Profile

    • Laura Zera says

      Most definitely, there’s an element of cognitive dissonance, and then also “soul dissonance,” if I may be so inarticulate. Somebody else might have better words to express that feeling that starts in your belly, even while your head is merrily rationalizing away!

      As for being in denial, it seems a pretty natural response when we’re not proud of a particular behavior. And you bring people together all the time in your work; your ability to do that means you are also “diet asshole” in relation to the greater scheme of things. :)

  5. says

    Apparently I am a tourist asshole. I’ve been working on a piece about my visit to Yosemite, and I make fun of all the tourons who never make it off the pavement while also acting like a total touron myself at times. Critical is my preferred term for asshole in the sense that I just might be the nicest asshole I know ;)
    Jeri recently posted…#WriteTip: Be Specific When Writing ReviewsMy Profile

    • Laura Zera says

      Hahahaa! Well, we all know that “tourons” (that’s a new one) are one of the most challenging segments of society.

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