Updated: May 31
The writer of this piece is an author of mostly unpublished novels. That’s important. If you need to know why, then check out my cynical treatise on the trials and tribulations of indie publishing at www.francescorizzuto.com/post/why-i-hate-indie-publishing.
I further concede that the driver for this article is an entertaining little novel I’ve been reading entitled ‘The Hating Game’ by Sally Thorne (Piatkus, £8.99). The plot focuses on a couple of co-workers whose backgrounds and personalities are so diverse that they literally repel one another like opposite poles of a magnet (spoiler alert!). My teenage daughter threw it over. “Starts out good, but ends up a sappy romance,” she sneered. I loved it. You will too. My little bookworm is much too jaded for her own good.
Okay, so I set myself a challenge: to speculate on current history’s most unlikely romance. Some candidates quickly came to mind.
Ghislaine Maxwell & Pope Francis
Now we all know that Roman Catholic priests are vowed to celibacy, notwithstanding the hundreds of millions of dollars paid out in sexual abuse lawsuit settlements over the past few decades. Nonetheless, what better place than the Vatican for the ‘suicided’ Jeffrey Epstein’s Waldo-esque ex-madam to evade the paparazzi? And didn’t Jesus advise the disciples to “turn the other cheek?” Theologians and sexual deviates have been debating the interpretation of this scriptural tidbit for a couple of millennia.
Elizabeth Warren & Bernie Sanders
Not as incredible as one might expect. Supporters for the Democratic side of the 2020 presidential race think a solid Warren-Sanders alliance might be just the ticket to unseat incumbent Donald Trump. Sure, their policies align but what about their stars? Can’t image any sparks between this pair until their coordinated assault on Big Pharma manages to reduce the price of Viagra.
Greta Thunberg and Barron Trump
I didn’t need to think too hard to come up with this combination.
A Thunberg-Trump alliance might prove to be the match of the century or, picture it now, of all time. This pair could go down in history as having saved the world, which is undoubtedly every teenager’s dream.
Greta is the daughter of an opera singer and an actor. She made the cover of Time Magazine. She is considered a front runner for a Nobel Prize. In terms of virtue and right thinking, she is emblematic of the hopes and aspirations of mankind for a better world and therefore represents everything that the Trump family is not. And she goes about things with an unconventional, disarming cuteness, like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a solar powered boat. What red-blooded American lad would not fall in love with such a feisty little siren?
On the other side of the Capulet-Montegue equation, the crush-worthy Barron is a largely unknown quantity. He is acceptably handsome and, some insiders claim, friendly and studious, if a bit shy. Unlike his famous parents, Barron likes to avoid the camera. Unlike his father, he isn’t a bully. He’s the kind of boy that any girl would be proud to take home to her parents. Not to mention he’s rich.
Donald Trump has voiced the fear that his son might grow up to be a ‘loser.’ Loser is loosely defined by the Trump Dictionary of Loathsome Epithets (mandatory reading for all MAGAts and Trump University enthusiasts) as growing up to be less than a con artist and serial liar, or deciding by necessity, inclination or interest, to work for a living. One can only imagine POTUS45’s reaction to the notion that any of his offspring might give up wealth and power for some pipsqueak poised to rob him of his Nobel Prize.
Given the kind of role models the young man has experienced in his rather unenviable life, one naturally expects this healthy teenager to rebel big time. And what better way than to crush on his Daddy’s nemesis?
While discretely frequently an obscure Stockholm vegan eatery, Barron Trump, special advisor to the U.S. President-For-Life encounters environmental crusader Greta Tintin Eleonora Thunberg, recently elected President of the European Union. The rest is (very speculative but nonetheless plausible) history. Environmental Armageddon is averted at the very last second by their budding romance. Love trumps all (pun intended). Everyone lives happily ever after. Or at least until the next impeachment inquiry.
Setting: Sometime during the late 2020’s, at the salad bar…
“How dare you!” she screamed.
He quickly withdrew his meticulously manicured fingers from the pickled organic tomatoes tray then sheepishly reached for a pair of gleaming stainless-steel tongs poised on the rim of the buffet like an instrument of dissection at an autopsy table. A stiff chorus of Secret Servicemen in mirror sunglasses simultaneously shoved their paws inside identical blue polyester suit jackets over starched white shirts with red silk ties and matching American flag pins nailed to the lapels. On the other side of the salad bar, an equal number of their European counterparts reached into their IKEA-designed jackets. The Hepa-filtered atmosphere was hair-trigger tense.
“Sorry, I was just helping myself. It’s the American Way. What’s your problem, anyway?“
“My problem? I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, OCD and selective mutism. That basically means I only speak when I think it’s necessary. Now is one of those moments.”
“Hey, come on now. My Dad says you have an anger management problem. But personally, I think you’re beautiful. Would you like to chill with me? We could go out to a good old fashioned movie or something…”
You’re already laughing in scorn, but hey…wait a minute and hear me out.
As Professor Pamela Karlan observed (and later apologized for) during the recent Impeachment Hearings, President Trump can call his son ‘Barron’ but he cannot make him a baron. While that may be so, a fantastical union between American pseudo-royalty and a Swedish Joan of Arc may not be that far off the credulity scale.
Unfortunately for a boy who likes his privacy, Professor Karlan’s clarification of Article 2 of the Constitution, which according the President means “I can do whatever I want,” resulted in an irate response from the First Lady, followed by an opposing shit-storm of tweets pointing out the hypocrisy in justifying her husband’s public bullying of Greta and abuse of children in general. During the actual hearings, Professor Karlan was apparently handed a discreet note advising her of the First Lady’s venomous push-back and the fact that Melania prefers her apologies in cash.
The White House says Trump’s attacks on 16-year-old Greta are fair game because she’s an ‘activist’ while any mention of his 13-year-old son should be off limits. The logic behind this argument is shiftier than the current impeachment proceedings against the President, particularly in light of evidence pointing to his historical involvement with Jeffrey Epstein’s coterie of underage call girls and the rather poor role model that FLOTUS45 offers American women and girls (see www.francescorizzuto.com/post/first-lady-of-porn). And what about the First Lady’s #BeBest anti-cyberbullying campaign? Go figure.
But seriously. To his parents’ credit, young Barron has been kept out of the limelight throughout the Trump presidency. Maybe they have some parenting skills after all. Now, if only they could acquire some governing skills and a sense of decorum.
The truth is that love and marriage have traditionally offered a relatively bloodless way to smooth over unresolvable differences and defuse confrontations between kingdoms, families, and Mafia clans, this being a more or less accurate description of American post-millennium politics. Let’s just look at a few historical examples.
I have in my greedy possession a curious collection of antique cabinet cards, that is, business card-sized images of sepia tinted posers from the 19th century, mostly scrounged from Ebay. What these little windows-into-the-past tell us is that politically motivated marriages have long been popular with royalty, the rich, and suave sophisticates in the USA. Many of these unions have also been consanguineous, that is, the participants were quite closely related by blood, perhaps explaining much of what we already know about historical outcomes.
Let's look at some unlikely romantic unions that have impacted world history.
Isabel and Ferdinand
Unfortunately, there’s no cabinet card for Isabel and Ferdinand since photography was not invented until the 1840’s. Once again, thanks goes to Time Magazine.
From time immemorial, a collection of monarchies, city states, and warlords both Christian and Muslim, had waged warfare across the Iberian peninsula. The 15th century union of Isabel of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon put an end to most of the squabbling and launched Spain into the age of colonialism with the voyages of Columbus and conquest of the New World.
Isabel’s claim to the Castilian throne was a sketchy one. It seems that her cousin was in direct line of succession but forfeited her crown after marrying a Portuguese prince. When her father died, the succession passed to Isabel’s father, then on his death to Isabel. By age six, Isabel had already made her debut in the marriage market with a betrothal to Ferdinand of Aragon. The two became known in Spanish history as the ‘Reyes Catolicos’ or Catholic Kings, for having once and for all driven the Muslims off the Spanish peninsula.
The only wrinkle was that the cousin’s marriage to the Portuguese fellow was on the rocks. To shed her marriage vows and regain her crown, the cousin appealed to the Pope for an annulment. The Pope saw a perfect opportunity for blackmail. He promptly notified Isabel that he would deny the cousin’s annulment request and claim to the throne, but only if the Catholic Kings allowed the hated Inquisition into Spain.
For readers unfamiliar with the Inquisition, its 400-year reign of terror was a dress rehearsal for the Holocaust of the 1930’s and 40’s. Spanish Jews were forced to wear yellow stars on their cloaks, their homes and businesses were confiscated, and they were made to pay the cost of their own expulsion from the country. Up to a million persons are estimated to have been arrested, tortured and burned at the stake until the Inquisition was outlawed in the early 1800’s.
Lucretia Borgia and Too Many Husbands to Mention
This daughter of Pope Alexander VI, born near Rome in 1480, was officially married at least 3 times. There’s no cabinet card for Lucretia either. Nonetheless, her notoriety stems not from any legal unions but from a clever gold ring from which she dispensed poison into the wine goblets of her many lovers in a studied expression of post-coital boredom. Perhaps it was her education in the humanities – which the Roman Catholic Church of the time considered detrimental to the foundations of piety and obedience – that inspired such callousness, or perhaps her proximity to the seat of power. No matter. The point is that every one of her marriages, from Giovanni Sforza (Lord of Pesaro) to Alfonso d’Este (Duke of Ferrara) was a political alliance engineered by her father, the Pope, after annulling each of the girl’s preceding and intervening marriages and dalliances. Poor Lucretia was nothing if not a pawn. She was also her father’s concubine.
Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI
The fourth daughter of Maria Theresa, Queen of Austria-Hungary, Marie Antoinette, married the dauphin (crown prince) of France, who would become King Louis XVI. Both parties to the ill-fated union were guillotined in 1793. His next-to-last words are unknown; however, hers went down in history:
Victoria and Albert
Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and her Prussian-born cousin Prince Albert were progenitors, in a long line of consanguineous unions, for today’s British Royal Family. They were a cause celebre in their time, starting with the piercing and gold penis ring with attached chain reportedly worn by Albert, and more recently with their great-great grandson Prince Andrew’s shameless denial of dubious shenanigans amongst the ‘suicided’ Jeffrey Epstein’s coterie of underage call girls. No doubt the aged reigning monarch, Elizabeth II, would love to exercise the prerogatives enjoyed by her namesake Elizabeth I when dealing with such troublesome relatives. Sadly, today’s Parliament just won’t allow anything more punishing than Brexit.
In any case, Vickie and Al’s marriage was for all practical purposes an exemplary one, an unlikely union that blossomed into a love and devotion that lasted ‘til death (his, not hers) did them part, after which the world plunged into turmoil. The Prince Consort was a devoted husband who gave new meaning to the term 'rattling his chain.' Here’s the cabinet card from my collection.
Eleanor & Franklin Roosevelt
At age nineteen, Eleanor Roosevelt married Franklin Delano Roosevelt, her fifth cousin once removed. That’s right, they shared the same surname, another consanguineous union. Their marriage may or may not have been arranged; in any case, it was not a happy one, complicated by her husband’s extra-marital affairs and a controlling mother-in-law who threatened to disinherit Franklin if he abandoned semi-attractive Eleanor. After Franklin was stricken by polio in 1921, Eleanor assumed an increasingly active role in his public affairs, redefining the role of First Lady without having to pose naked for GQ. Unlike Lucretia Borgia, Eleanor disliked having sex, describing the act as ‘an ordeal.’ She didn’t care much for kids, either. Despite having eventually birthed six children, she candidly offered: “It did not come naturally to me to understand little children or to enjoy them.”
In 1918, she discovered a packet of love letters from her own social secretary, Lucy Mercer, to Franklin. In spite of his infidelities, Eleanor stuck with Franklin and nursed him through his chronic illness, afterwards throwing herself into his political life if not into his bed. Instead, she had a very close relationship with legendary aviatrix Amelia Earhart, as well as journalist Lorena Hickock. She wrote Hickock: “I want to put my arms around you and kiss you at the corner of your mouth…I can’t kiss you, so I kiss your picture good-night and good-morning.” J. Edgar Hoover, Chief of the FBI, detested Eleanor and kept a thick file, intending one day to blackmail her. As for Amelia Earhart, her plane mysteriously disappeared over the Pacific Ocean.
And so, with history as our guide, let’s think positively and speculate on a possible matchmaking scenario for this unlikely pair. Think Romeo and Juliette. Tristan and Isolde. Tony and Maria. A hit Broadway musical may be in the offing with Ivanka already calculating ticket sales and potential royalties from the movie rights.
And it’s Fake News, Melania, so don’t get your maternal knickers in a wringer. You do know what Fake News is, don’t you?
Let’s see, now: John Barron, John Miller, David Dennison…all fake personas for @realDonaldTrump; Flotus45 speaks six languages and is not a gold digger; there was no quid pro quo...
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