Jessica Simpson: Portrait of a Living Doll
WHEN THERE ARE FIVE OR SIX PEOPLE CRAMMED into your relatively small hotel room, it’s common to pick up your underpants off the floor. But in the bathroom of this burgundy junior suite in midtown Manhattan, a pair of blue lace panties are crumpled almost under the heel of Jessica Simpson. Simpson, who is being tended to by fawning stylists, publicists and hair-extension experts, flicks a French-manicured nail over a fleck of mascara on her temple, the only blemish on a disturbingly perfect face. Then, in her drowsy, cat-in-the-sun-like way, she turns and looks for — well, who she always looks for.
“Nick,” she coos, training her coffee-colored eyes on her husband, Nick Lachey, who is intent on a ballgame and exhibits no sign that he has heard his name. “Nick, baby?” says Simpson. “Will you iron mah new shirt?”
“No,” answers Lachey, in a typical knee-jerk bit of sarcasm, but just a minute later — whipped mofo that he is — he rises from the couch to retrieve the iron from a closet. As he walks to the bedroom, the cord slithers behind him and retracts with a sudden shump.
“That’s a nifty little iron,” says Simpson, smiling.
“All irons do that,” declares Lachey. “It’s not a new feature, my dear.” He takes Simpson’s new Gucci shirt, a black button-down, off its Jessica Simpson hanger. A price tag dangles from the collar.
“Two hundred and thirty-eight dollars!” exclaims Lachey.
“Just steam it,” says Simpson.
“It’s a fucking shirt!” he yells.
“I didn’t buy it with your credit card!” cries Simpson. “I had budget, so why not? Record company gives you money for clothes, why not take it?”
“Mmm,” grumbles Lachey. “They don’t give me money.”
With a relationship that is uncannily similar in real life to what you see on Newlyweds, their hit reality show on MTV, Simpson, 23, and Lachey, 29, seem alternately like a girl and her dad, a young couple working out the kinks and two people who should never have gotten married — and probably wouldn’t have, except that Simpson wouldn’t have sex with Lachey until they did. Part of the reason that the show is a hit — despite the fact that MTV did not have high expectations for it initially — is because it’s so hard to figure out whether Simpson is the most annoying person in the world and Lachey a saint for putting up with her or if Simpson is too much of a sweetheart for her own good and Lachey a hostile bastard who likes making fun of his wife. Then there’s the schadenfreude of Simpson’s nearly constant gaffes. Like, most famously, when she thought that Chicken of the Sea tuna is not tuna but, rather, chicken.
“My confusion there was that I hate fish,” says Simpson. “But I love tuna, and there was a half of a second there where I thought maybe it could be chicken. ‘Cause I liked it, and I don’t like fish. Unless it’s from Long John Silver’s and deep-fried.”
Tonight Simpson and Lachey are going on Larry King Live, the event for which the Gucci shirt was purchased. But now, though, they are late, and Simpson is no longer sure about the shirt. “Should I wear different clothes?” she asks anxiously.
“You look beautiful, baby,” says Lachey. “But should I wear different shoes?” asks Simpson, stamping a rhinestone Jimmy Choo. “I don’t like my outfit!”
“C’mon, you’re gorgeous,” says Lachey. The publicists and stylists let loose with a flurry of accolades: “You’re too beautiful for words,” “What an outfit,” “Who’s prettier than you, Jessica?”
“I might smell bad,” says Simpson.
“And this is different from other days how?” says Lachey, laughing.
“Nick!” exclaims Simpson. Then she throws her arms around his neck. “You know you think I smell scrumptious,” she whispers, drawing him close. He puts a hand on her cheek, softly, and gives her a light kiss.
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