Hillary Baldwin, the Massachusetts-born wife of A-list actor Alec Baldwin, today suffered one of my most feared indignities: Being mocked on the cover of the New York Post. Her sin? Fashioning herself as Señorita Hilaria.
The Post, following the lead of the Twitter mob, has declared Baldwin a fraud for her affected Spanish accent and feigning on the “Today” show that she didn’t instantly know the English word for cucumber. “How you say . . . scam artist?” harrumphed Post columnist Maureen Callahan in her takedown of Baldwin.
Turns out, Baldwin is as lily white as a loaf of Wonder bread. She was born Hillary Hayward-Thomas, the daughter of a Harvard medical school professor and a Georgetown-educated lawyer who worked at a white shoe law firm. Baldwin is no more Spanish than Rachel Dolezal is black or Elizabeth Warren is Native American.
Baldwin’s need to adopt an exotic persona is understandable. Had she not married an accomplished A-list actor she likely would have gone through life an unknown NYC trust fund yogi. The Post is treating the story like a Spanish bull in the China shop, tormenting Baldwin with the relish of a matador. It’s understandable given that Alec Baldwin is the publication’s longtime punching bag, or the “super-size gelatinous hunk of Soft Serve non-dairy product” as Andrea Peyser prefers to call him.
I can relate to Hillary Baldwin’s urge to spice up her image. When I transferred to public school from a Toronto Jewish Day School, I went by the name Rick because I always hated my given birth name. I would have preferred using the name of my alter ego Liam O’Shaughnessy to improve my chances with Irish girls, but my parents would have forced me to continue with my Jewish education. I imagine I could still walk into a Toronto Tim Horton’s and someone might say, “Are you Rick Starkman that went to Northview Heights?”
For the record, my Canadian accent is authentic, I genuinely refer to rubber bands as elastics, and when I hear loonie I instantly think sovereign currency, not someone who is cuckoo. But as I’m tired of being derided as an “old white guy,” I’ve adopted a more exotic image and joined the ranks of the aggrieved.
That’s why I’ve taken the name Yvon Cournoyer. My chances of crossing paths with a Trump supporter in Los Angeles are far better than meeting someone in this city who knows that Cournoyer was a legendary hockey player with the Montreal Canadiens.
The opportunities to mess with PC-correct Angelenos are limitless with exchanges like these:
ANGELENO: How’s your day going, WHYvan CORNwire?
ME: My name is EVEan CORNYeh?
ANGELENO: Apologies. Is your preferred pronoun “he,” “she,” or “they?”
ME: It’s “he.” Yvan is a male French name if that’s why you’re asking.
ANGELENO: Apologies again. I didn’t realize you were French.
ME: I’m not. I’m Quebecois. Do you know the difference?
ANGELENO: Yes. It means you’re from Quebec, where some of the best hockey players and Celine Dion come from.
ME: The Celine Dion reference is a cheap shot. Not everyone from Quebec is a hockey player or sappy entertainer. Do yourself a favour and look up Sidney Altman. Kamala Harris spent her formative years in Quebec. That’s where she learned the wonders of taxation.
ANGELENO: Apologies again. Where in Quebec are you from?
Me: I’m from Toronto. But I lived in Montreal for four years.
And so the conversation would go. Admittedly, I’d initially lose lots of time having to spell out my name, but once my chain of Yvan Cournoyer Organic Poutine shops took hold, the problem would take care of itself.
What say you to all this, eh?