Pies! I could not be more for them, especially when they are thrown into the faces of unsuspecting famous people. Anna Wintour, the Vogue editrix, most recently took a tofu pie in the face while attending a fashion show in Paris. It was thrown at her by her archenemies, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. (This is the group that threw blood at her fur coat; I prefer pies. And as a nod to vegans, the tofu makes an excellent alternative to cream or eggy meringues.) I loved it when Bill Gates got pied by European antiglobalization activists, who reportedly planned their attack for months. Dan Glickman, then secretary of agriculture, once barely missed a pie headed his way from animal rights' activists -- PETA again. And I despaired for days when someone sent me a grainy video clip of Ann Coulter just barely ducking a pie coming her way as she mouthed off at a lectern. (Drat!)
Pie throwers, who often are sentenced to probation on simple assault charges, maintain that their weapon of choice is physically harmless, designed only to destroy, momentarily, powerful people's sense that they are controlling image, message and agenda. The aim is to quite literally rub the targets' faces in humility; make them appear ridiculous. (And to drive home a point.)
Celebrities have so far escaped, somehow, the wrath of pies. On a red carpet line in London this summer, Tom Cruise got squirted with water by a prankster and acted like a ginormous brat, lecturing his attacker with a schoolmarm finger. Wrong. The only winning response from a boldface name who has just been pied is to laugh, and wipe, and laugh some more. But not to laugh too much, not maniacal, overcompensatory Sharon Stone-type laughter. Next, feign anger -- the kind everyone can tell you're only joking about -- remark on the taste of the pie, and then shrug. Then, accept the towel no doubt hurriedly being proffered. And never press charges. What better test could there be of a person's ability to not take himself or herself too seriously? What better way to show the public what lies behind the smiles and the BS of media-managed small talk? Shouldn't everyone -- except people with 400-word magazine columns about celebrities -- be subjected once in a while to an unexpected flying pastry?