Some decades ago, I remember my cousin’s son saying that when he grew up he wanted to be like Bill Gates. I don’t remember how old the kid was at the time, but I don’t think he meant he wanted to be a software developer. In fact, I don’t think he was old enough to know what a software developer does. He just wanted to be rich. I understood perfectly. When I was his age, I was fascinated with Scrooge McDuck, the Disney comic book character who used to dive into his money bin and do the backstroke around a capacious pool filled to the brim with cash and coins. As I recall, there was no shallow end in his pool.
Today I don’t know that anyone would want to be Bill Gates. Over the years there have been any number of allegations pertaining to a possible dark side of his global do-gooding, but now, in the wake of his divorce proceedings, all sorts of revelations about the dark side of his sexual life are coming out.
Now we read about his visits to the Combat Zone, Boston’s once-notorious tenderloin, during his years at Harvard. And let’s not forget the pool parties with naked strippers at his Seattle mansion. Turns out that even though Gates looked like a divinity student, he was as horny as the next guy, and for a while the next guy was Jeffrey Epstein. I don’t want to invite sympathy for the devil, but a lesser man could get his freak on without worrying about it attaining “trending now” status.
Several years ago, I wrote about his wife Melinda (“The Power and the Reflected Glory” posted on May 14, 2017) on this web site. In essence, it was a Cinderella story about a young woman marrying into money, status, and power, much like a commoner marrying into a royal family. She had everything to gain and nothing to lose by marrying him.
Of course, despite the titillating revelations about Bill’s sexual peccadilloes, Melinda could stay married to Bill. I’m sure they could afford a house with separate bedrooms…I was going to say two master bedrooms but that might be perceived poorly by those who suffer from OCD in regard to gender issues. On the other hand, referring to the master bedroom and the mistress bedroom could be misconstrued.
I don’t know what kind of divorce settlement Bill and Melinda will work up, but there’s no doubt she will be a multi-billionaire (Bill’s net worth was $145.8 billion as of May 8). At age 56, Melinda can just goof off the rest of her life or continue channeling Eleanor Roosevelt and keep on playing the global busybody role.
Instead of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will we now have the Bill Gates Foundation and the Melinda Gates Foundation? No more BMGF but now BGF and MGF. If she reverts to her maiden name – French – it will be the MFF. Equity, y’know. His and hers, like bathroom towels.
But enough of Melinda. The question I never asked in my original piece was what was Bill thinking? Bill Gates was 38 years old – in other words, old enough to know what he was getting into – when he got married. Not to sound too cynical, but he could afford all the mistresses, call girls, female flunkeys, and maids he wanted. Hell, he could buy up an apartment complex and stash all his women there if he were of a mind. So why did he do the monogamy thing?
I suspect it was because he wanted children. Rare is the man who wouldn’t like to see at least one of his sperm cells fulfill the purpose for which it was intended. In a sense, every child is a genetic experiment and perhaps intellectual curiosity got the better of Bill. Alas, fathering three – count ‘em, three! – children likely sullied his reputation among the carbon footprint critics. One suspects he spent some sleepless nights worrying about kidnappers.
Given his connections with biotech companies, he probably could have done some groundbreaking experimentation and mixed his human DNA with that of various animal species. Shades of Dr. Moreau! (Ironic fun fact: his father, a wealthy Seattle attorney, was once the President of the local Planned Parenthood Chapter.)
Experimentation is all well and good, but there is indeed something primal about just keeping the bloodline going – even in an era of below-replacement birth rates. True, middle class family life has gotten too pricey for the middle class, but that was never an issue for Gates. He could have spread his seed like Genghis Khan (it is estimated that 1 of every 200 men in the world carries Khan’s DNA). He would have no problem finding surrogate mothers willing to carry his children. Think of the book deal an aspiring authoress could get for Birthing Bill’s Baby!
So I repeat the question: why would Bill resort to marriage? His wealth gave him options most single men never dream of; by getting married, he saddled himself with legal responsibilities that hobble all married men to one degree or another.
Of course, Bill’s financial status does shield him from a lot of the misery. The readers of this web site don’t need to be reminded of the horrors of divorce lawyers and family law courts. Still, even if you can afford world-class divorce lawyers that doesn’t mean it’s a walk in the park on a spring day. Even for the well-heeled, Splitsville is not a resort town!
Unlike Bill, the average Joe doesn’t have much choice if he wants an heir. If he doesn’t do the conventional marriage bit and simply partners up for any length of time, there is still the specter of common law marriage looming over him. And for those men who could care less about an heir, the most sobering thought of all is the realization that a man is just one orgasm away from child support payments. Not a problem for Bill, by the way, as none of his kids is a minor.
Rich and powerful man like Gates often have a mistress. Indeed, such men are almost expected to have one. It’s on the checklist with the yacht, the private plane, the philanthropic foundation, the antique car collection, the multi-million dollar donations to hospitals and universities, and the pricy works of art adorning the mansion.
If a man could afford more than one mistress, they were often referred to as concubines, a word we don’t hear much these days. But in more tolerant times, a concubine was something more than a mistress but something less than a wife.
Needless to say, in our feminized, democratized era, such domestic arrangements are frowned upon, though I wouldn’t say they are flat-out illegal like bigamy. Granted, if you get invited to state dinners, as Gates does, it could make for some awkwardness in the receiving line… “Pleased to meet you, Mr. President. Let me introduce Roxie, my concubine.”
The fact is if you want people to take you seriously as a public figure, being a bachelor is a drawback. Hugh Heffner could pull it off (for grins and giggles – and maybe guffaws – Google “Hugh Hefner Girl Friends List) but swinging bachelorhood was his persona. As for other prominent bachelors, all sorts of rumors start to circulate. In days of old, there might be whispers of homosexuality. Today that stigma is greatly reduced, but there are others to replace it. A commitmentphobe? Married to his work? Peter Pan syndrome? Ah, probably a misogynist!
Of course, a man in Gates’s position can easily refute the misogynist label by surrounding himself with a harem of female VPs, but even that doesn’t compensate for failure to launch, matrimonially speaking.
One wonders if Gates ever had second thoughts about naming his company Microsoft. Why? Just Google Bill Gates Jokes and note how many involve a play on words with his company’s name and his manhood. Could it be that those jokes inspired him to, well, prove his manhood? Well, no better response to the jokers than a wife and kids.
But it has to be the real deal. Trotting out your surrogate-mothered offspring just won’t do. So you have to take the married with children route. It’s a bit like the royal family. A pseudo-king, like Gates, must have a pseudo-royal family to complete the image.
Maybe a good thing for Melinda that she was fertile. Consider the case of Henry VIII, who lusted for a male heir. If one woman won’t present you with a son, get rid of her and get another. If the church disapproves, get rid of the church and get another. It’s good to be the king. At least it was before the days of the 24-hour news cycle, back when the lord of the realm could lord it over the plebes. Given today’s media, there would never be a slow news day while Henry VIII was on the throne. He was not one to care about the optics of his deeds.
Bill Gates, however, could have gone Henry one better. Travel was difficult in Henry’s day but a man like Bill Gates can visit every country in every continent without running out of time or money. His globe-trotting provides him with ample opportunity for sex tourism…with an expense account that doesn’t have to be approved! And once he breaks free of Melinda, anything is possible.
Bill, you can be as kinky as you wannabe and the only tongue-lashing you’ll ever get is if you request oral from your sex partner du jour. You can be a veritable James Bond villain of debauchery. You can rewrite the sexual feats of the Guinness Book of World Records. It’s all yours for the taking if you want it!
One thing for sure. Bill Gates will not be just another DWM in the Personal ads.