Reality-show star Jon Gosselin did it. Country singer Shania Twain, whose "One" has become a wedding standard, wound up a victim of it. An endless parade of politicians has done it, and those are the ones we wind up knowing about.
Adultery does happen. It always has and it always will. But I think we may have crossed a threshold.
While watching the president of the United States declare that we can legislate away hardship, during his joint-session of Congress health-care address, I was lured away from my hyper-blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking analysis by a commercial for ashleymadison.com.
To the soundtrack of a snoring woman in bed with a man, the announcer says: "Most of us can recover from a one-night stand with the wrong woman." The narrator continues: "But not when it's every night. For the rest of our lives."
The husband gets out of bed and heads, presumably, to the computer. We see a cartoonish wedding picture. We are made aware of what this restless spouse must be craving: an online dating site for those who are married, but itching for something more, with someone else.
"Life is short. Have an affair." is the motto for this no-frills facilitator. There's no need for confession or guilt. It's all straightforward and out in the open, at least to those in the know. And that's it: enticement, information and get your credit card ready.
The ad's commercial presence during the presidential address post-game commentary on MSNBC was jarring. Have 24 hours of Viagra and Cialis and KY ads made audiences of the talking-heads shows immune to noticing? Maybe they're a crowd that enjoys politics as sport ("Hardball"!) and views sex in the same terms: a biologically gratifying release without a greater context or purpose?
And in this fallen TV world, it's not that he's just not into his wife. It's equality, baby. Another ad on the same night featured an exaggerated boorish bore of a man and his wife in a restaurant on their anniversary. He takes a phone call. She is pleased to make eye contact with a leering rake at the bar. "When divorce isn't an option," is how Ashley Madison seeks to make this sale.
In both scenarios, any sense of shame was noticeably absent.
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