Friends with Benefits


One of the many books that has been published recently (without the slightest help or input from me) is Healthy Child, Healthy World, a guide for parents who want to raise children in a “cleaner, greener and safer home.” Author Christopher Gavigan has stuffed this book with boatloads of planet-friendly advice from celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Brooke Shields and Kate Hudson. I may not know what those ladies have in the way of environmental credentials, but I am quite sure that they qualify as celebrities. I’m less sure of why the author saw fit to include eco words of wisdom from Gayle King, a woman whose primary claim to fame is that she is Oprah Winfrey’s bestest friend in the whole wide world.

I actually like Gayle King – she strikes me as a spunky, vibrant and down-to-earth woman, but it ticks me off that she’s become the go-to gal for environmental sound bites based on absolutely nothing but her proximity to Oprah. One might suspect that Gayle’s media mogul bestie is also responsible for her radio show (on the Oprah network) as well as her editor-at-large position for “O” Magazine, which is published by – well, you get the picture.

Thinking about Gayle King’s meteoric rise to the top has led me to believe that my own, more limited career trajectory is not due to any lack of talent, ambition or intelligence on my part – it’s just that my friends are such losers.

Don’t get me wrong:  I love my friends desperately – they are all brilliant, warm, funny and unfailingly loyal. But there is not a billionaire in the bunch and not one of them has her own, eponymous multimedia empire. In short, none of them is in a position to make me a household name.

Oprah is certainly not the only woman who has given her best friend a leg up in the world. Several of Michelle Obama’s pals have ended up with cushy jobs in the current Administration. Jessica Simpson’s best friend became her personal assistant, then had a recurring role on Simpson’s reality TV show, and is now dating that guy with the gold teeth from Clueless (thereby proving that some celebrity friendships are more lucrative than others).

But it is Gayle freaking King, in her role as World’s Luckiest Recipient of Inexplicable Fame, who really sticks in my craw. Judging from the book excerpt I read, her advice about raising an eco-friendly family amounts to fairly standard veggie-worship boilerplate. I think more should be expected from Oprah Winfrey’s BFF and frankly, I think I’m up to the task.

Which leads me, inevitably, to wonder: shouldn’t someone as fabulous as Oprah have room in her life for more than one best pal? Especially now – with her talk show ending early next year, Oprah is bound to have lots of extra time on her hands. I totally think we could hang out.

Are you out there Oprah? Call me”¦

Image: Rubenstein