Have you heard about this one? You can hire someone to make sure you stay clean and sober. But it might cost you $1,000 or more per day to enlist the services of such a provider, called a sober companion.
Let me pause here to note how I discovered this fact: The hugely entertaining Sunday Styles section of The New York Times, which spotlights the glitterati, ran a piece on this phenomenon. You've got to admire their pluckiness. Last Sunday's edition featured a section opener on a designer, Anand Jon, who always found himself aswarm with barely (pun intended) nubile wannabe models and who now, um, faces multiple charges of rape, sexual battery, and lewd acts (big shocker); an article on fancy inventions, such as slippers that double as mops; and the piece on sober companions, featuring a profile on an ex-con, ex-user named Ronnie Kaplan. Oh, and the bottom of the page is anchored by a large banner ad (say, 14 inches across by 6 inches deep) by Gucci, for an "indy" silver leather bag: $2,590 for the large and $1,990 for the medium; roughly the cost of a few days for a top-drawer sober companion.
Apparently some of these sober companions come out of the entourages of celebs. Hey, they get sober and why not be a smart entrepreneur and combine the skillset of bodyguard, therapist, coach, pastor, and cashier! A sobrepreneur! (I take credit for coining the term.)
It should be noted that part of the sober companion's services typically involves attending with the client meetings of free 12 Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA. And it should be further noted that AA encourages and suggests that the new person find a sponsor (also for free). The sponsor is someone who shares his or her "experience, strength, and hope" about sobriety (but not about film deals, fitness tips, financial planning, or tattooing techniques).
One of the firms that offers these services is named the brilliantly marketable Hired Power. (Why didn't I think of that? Conscience? Envy? Not quite enough shamelessness?)
Incidentally, this all reminds me of some of the scenes in "The Player," the acerbic and first-rate movie by the late Robert Altman, where the guy pitching movie screenplays is told AA meetings are a hot place to shop scripts.
May I discreetly and delicately mention that (as readers who have read this journal can discern) I have some "credentials" in this arena? Ergo, I hereby offer some suggestions for other sorts of companions along the same lines. Alas, someone undoubtedly will take these suggestions and run straight to the ATM with them.
Labor Coach -- (No, not the one for labor and delivery of babies.) A professional to keep one on task during the workday, making one productive, happy, and whole. (I'd make a great one -- for someone else.)
Lustwaffe -- A personnel weapon, or battery of tools, to assist one in navigating through issues of concupiscence (I just love that word from my seminary days; come to think of it, seminary itself is such a richly layered word, too, in't?).
StepMaster or StepMistress -- Just another name for a sober companion, perhaps skewed toward sub-dom addicts.
Better Up -- Aimed at helping compulsive gamblers or impotent sex addicts or persons with low self-esteem.
Lip Service (or Imus-n't) -- Someone to protect you from saying the wrong thing at the wrong time (not that I'd ever need that, oh no, not me).
By the way, The New York Times article ends with this observation by Mr. Kaplan, "The lifestyle, most of it is a facade....Most of them are miserable. I try to bring meaning to their life." [Some day, I should do a post on the word "lifestyle."]
Excuse me, the phone is ringing. If it's Lindsay L., I've got to turn her down. Men with men and women with women. I know, sounds kinky. Hey, I was just in Berlin!