I'm talking, of course, about Maria Shriver, a woman who is just as renowned for her celebrity as she is celebrated for her renown. She's also someone we can all look forward to hearing and seeing much more of in the coming weeks as she promotes her latest book (for grown-ups, this time), 10 Things I Wish I'd Known -- Before I Went Out Into the Real World. In this slim volume (adapted from a commencement speech she made last year), she shares with the world-at-large some of her hard-won insights and common sense advice. Proving once and for all that she's using her head for something more than displaying thick, luxurious hair. Don't believe it? I'm sure you'll change your mind after reading the following synopsis of this clear-sighted woman's valuable lessons.
Starting out in any career can be very humbling.
2. There are times on the job when your boss might ask you to do something that would compromise your ethics. In this situation, always try to draw on your personal heritage, traditions and values. If you're lucky enough to have a family history rich in cunning politicians plus a cold, cruel, bootlegging, adultering grandfather, ethical "dilemmas" should pretty much go the way of the Volstead Act.
3. In the world today, one finds a lot of pressure to conform. Don't give in to it. Refuse to wear "off the rack." When everyone else is arriving by limo, arrive by helicopter. If your friends are hot for van Gogh, buy Cézanne. Of course, the real key to staying one step ahead of the crowd is to hire a full-time trend consultant.
4. Death is the most painful of life's lessons. Maria credits her Uncle Teddy with showing her how to deal with such loss; it was he who told her, "If a sudden, unexpected death starts to overwhelm and become too personally painful, you should make every effort to pay off the Chappaquiddick Police Department."
5. Marriage is tough and a lot of work. Especially for a couple whose jobs take them all over the world, whose days often stretch to 12 and 16 hours as they wait to do their five minutes of in-front-of-the-camera work and whose tastes in spas are very different. But we can all easily put our marital problems into perspective if we'll just pick up the phone and call Princess Caroline of Monaco, who is really a smart, empathetic gal and who can really help talk through things.
6. There are no greater challenges than those involved in parenting. The constant demands, the anxieties, the conflicts. These problems can all be avoided if you simply refuse to give the nanny the phone number of your ski retreat in Gstaad in the first place.
7. If Jane Pauley is being bitchy, having her slapped around by professionals can be arranged for less than the cost of a Rolex.
8. Success is intensely personal and can only be defined by one person: the editor-in-chief of People magazine.
9. The old saying that money can't buy friends is still true. But with fellow celebrity Rosie O'Donnell's recent success in buying babies, we're hopeful.
10. Publishers always want a list of 10 things, even if you've thought really hard and can only come up with a list of nine things.