A Year of Sexual Blunders by Powerful Men: Blame it on High School


David Letterman is this week’s Exhibit A in the ongoing case of Powerful Men v. Sexual Integrity, having climbed over Roman Polanski, who was last week’s winner.   Congratulations, David. And as I look over the year’s debris of the rich and powerful men (even if it was occasionally a wealth paid for taxpayer dollars, in the case of a couple of politicians) I’ve surmised one truth: These guys were losers in high school.

How do I know this? Well, just look at them. I don’t think there’s a football hero among them. These guys were the short guys, the dweeby guys, the bookworms who not only didn’t get the cheerleaders and homecoming queens, but who, when they show up at high school reunions were greeted with, “I didn’t even know you went to this school!”

We all know that adolescence is cruel and brutal, but the kind of exclusion from all the “Spring Awakening” fun for guys who don’t fit the Big Man on Campus mold is so excruciating that it inspires them to compensate with humor, intense drive, and a quest for recognition later in life. (Or to collect road kill and live in an abandoned camper truck on the old Route 66.) As we adults know, these are pretty terrific characteristics in many ways, but to the pimply teen inside of us all, they are all second best to being tall, strong and sexy at 17.

There are several of us women who do the exact same things to revise the history of our teenaged insignificance. Look at the wives these powerful guys cheat on—lawyers, writers, community servants whom they met in college or with whom they worked side-by-side as they were climbing the ladder. Not a dim bulb in the crowd, but not a prom queen in there either.

It seems to be a pattern that all goes pretty well during the family- and career-building years of marriage for these late blooming powerhouse men, but then a switch flips at midlife, or later (I’m being generous here, fellas,) say, after the first heart attack. Their minds get all squirrelly and lascivious and tell them that they are better than those jocks from high school; in fact, they eat those kinds of meatheads for lunch every day! “Damn it,” they exclaim in the universal middle-aged former-dweeb battle cry, “I’ve earned my right to a hot babe and I’m gonna get one!”

Off they go, to Hollywood, Argentina, D.C. nightclubs, or even their very own offices to follow the scent of the hunt.  Sure, their wives may be nice, really smart, accomplished and terrific mothers, but what they want, what they deserve now is some young thing with a rockin’ bod who looks at them as they see themselves now—Big Men of the World.  Sounds a lot like high school, doesn’t it?

I know many of you will skate straight past this inquiry to remind me that plenty of high school heroes turned out to be asses, too, or that women do the same thing, but please don’t bother. I’m just saying that there seems to be a pattern. Why else would gorgeous Charlotte’s husband from “Sex and the City” be funny before he even says a word?

Bad high school social experiences are responsible for igniting some of the most incredible achievers in the world, for which we should rejoice. But tell me this, who was the most popular girl or guy in your school?  I have absolutely no doubt you clearly recall not only their name, but probably every single word they said, or didn’t say, to you. And you can recall exactly how they made you feel about your own worth.  Who doesn’t feel a secret nasty triumph upon seeing the old quarterback with a fat gut and receding hairline or the Prom Queen with a double chin and a drinking problem? It turns out the there are no real winners in high school, just survivors.

Vicki Iovine – Girlfriends' Guides