Irreconcilable differences, indeed. The only heaven this match was made in was tabloid heaven.
When the news bulletin flashed yesterday afternoon that Lisa Marie Presley had filed for divorce from Michael Jackson after less than 20 months of marriage, there was really only one surprising element: Why didn't they just cut to the chase and go for an annulment?
How can we put this delicately: When it came to the union of Neverland and Graceland, did the twain ever meet?
Part of the salacious interest in the Presley-Jackson nuptials is, of course, the scandalous child-molestation suit against Mr. Jackson, settled out of court for a reputed $15 million to $25 million.
But it goes beyond that. There is a certain sexlessness to Jacko, as the tabloid headlines call him; he seems sexless in the same way that all his plastic surgery has rendered him rather genderless and race-less. After turning himself into a species of one, it's hard to imagine who on earth he could possibly mate with.
And so when he married, the questions were inevitable. Was Lisa Marie lonesome not just tonight but every night? When she asked and answered her own question during the Diane Sawyer interview in June, "Do we have sex? Yes! Yes! Yes!" was it the first time she ever uttered, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" in his company?
In the way of celebrity divorce, this came down with terse statements from each party's spokesperson. His said, "Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley have mutually agreed to go their separate ways. However, they remain good friends." Hers would only say she filed for divorce because of "irreconcilable differences." Reportedly, the filing says the couple separated a month ago.
Irreconcilable differences. Let us count the ways: She's a mother of two children; he, well, likes children. She's a Scientologist; he was a Jehovah's Witness. At 27, she's been married twice; at 37, he's been married once.
To be fair, though, let us also count the similarities: Their dysfunctional families. The unnatural glare of fame from childhood on. A heavy hand with the mascara.
There was a certain odd symmetry to the match. Both are so otherworldly, so far removed from normalcy, that perhaps it was inevitable that their planets would collide as they orbited around the rest of us.
She is the only daughter -- well, the only recognized daughter -- of the King, Elvis Presley. Which makes her a princess, at least, or whatever it is you call a daughter of an icon. And so she's never been far from the world's prying eyes. Her parents' divorce, her father's ignominious death, her marriage to a minor bass player, her two kids, her own divorce, her father's stamphood, and on and on.
And Michael, well, he is the littlest Jackson 5, who also grew if not up at least older right before our eyes. He turned into one of the truly great pop performers, magically moon-walking and churning out hit after hit. At first, his idiosyncrasies were minor things -- a little nose job, a bit of a chin tuck, the llamas and Bubbles the chimp, his playmates at Neverland.
But then, the Peter Pan facade started to crack. The child-molestation investigation, which began in August 1993, it seems, was the beginning of the end. Amid the charges, there PTC was the cancellation of an international tour, and a reported trip to a London clinic for an addiction to painkillers. His latest albums haven't sold astronomically, although they've hit the top of the charts, and he seemed lost.
It takes cynicism to see marriage as something his handlers came up with to resuscitate him in the wake of the W child-molestation scandal. But let's just say you're Michael Jackson and you had to get married quickly. Who are your frequent companions?
There's Liz Taylor. Forget that she's old enough to be your grandmother, that Larry Fortensky guy was still hanging around then. Or there's Brooke Shields. Seemingly perfect, her Valkyrie indomitability a perfect foil to your frail wispiness. She, though, seemed busy playing the field, not to mention the tennis courts. Most women, actually, could be eliminated because you'd suspect they'd only want you for your money.
What about that nice Lisa Marie Presley? Her daddy even brought her around to meet you when you were both little.
Their marriage, on May 26, 1994, in the Dominican Republic, wasn't even acknowledged by the couple until Aug. 1 of that year. The hooting was near universal, and yet, you couldn't help but think, deep down in that last un-cynical bit of your heart, that maybe this was right. Maybe these two kids who became adults without ever having a normal childhood had found, well, if not love then at least some kind of shared comforts. She, rather touchingly, came out attacking his attackers, calling them things like larvae and snakes. It kinda made you believe.