Barbara Walters annually hosts a television special about her “10 Most Fascinating People.” A woman recently told me she reads my column before she reads the Police Beat. So move over, Babs. There’s not enough room at the top of the journalism heap for both of us.
Here in no particular order is my list of the year’s most fascinating people:
• The thief who pulled off the year’s greatest heist: stealing North Korea’s senses of humor, priority and perspective.
• Elsa from “Frozen.” Is there a biological explanation for how she manages to shoot ice lightning out of her palms? Now that Arendelle has emerged from an eternal winter, is she able to explore her talent for ice sculptures and skating parties with impunity? What exercise regime does she follow to maintain the slim but curvy figure her blue sparkly dress so accentuates? These are but some of my questions.
• The woman who has it all. Everyone tells us we can have it all. I have to assume someone has figured out how to do it. Would the woman with the fulfilling but manageable career, the supportive and independently fulfilled partner, the adorable and preternaturally well-behaved children, the comfortable and clean home, the teenage-dream body, the healthy allotment of “her time,” the enviable but not saccharine Facebook posts, and the firm grasp on what it means to balance work and life please stand up? Because you, my dear, are absolutely fascinating. (Downside: We probably won’t be friends. I’m marginally mature, but like Nick Jonas, I still get jealous.)
• Michele Roberts, the newly appointed executive director of the NBA Players Association. In her first few months on the job, she criticized the league’s entire business model. To summarize her position: The owners are idiots who make far too much money and should be replaced – the entire lot of them. This, dear reader, is the sports and business equivalent of finding a hornet nest full of rich, entitled hornets, and stomping on them in sensible heels. On purpose.
• The person who was confronted with a complex problem with widespread implications that required a quick solution and thought, “Man, I wish Congress were here to help me noodle through this one.”
• The recent college grad who moved from Boise to San Francisco to write the next great Jane Austen novel. The one who writes on lined paper with a pencil he sharpens using a pencil sharpener, who found his publisher using a phone book, and who calls said publisher from his flip phone.
• Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk. They are the founders of Airbnb, a “marketplace platform” for vacation rentals that connects travelers with folks willing to give up their homes to strangers for a certain time and rate. I have no idea what “marketplace platform” means, but it must be awesome because in 2014, Airbnb was valued at $10 billion. I have to change my ATM password every time I sneeze, and I can’t get my children to share a toy neither one was remotely interested in yesterday. These three guys developed an entire business based on adults eventually learning to, and willing to, trust other adults, and even share with them.
• The guy who comes up with the Tough Mudder challenges. He manages to conceal an emotional disturbance behind a veneer of salesmanship worthy of “The Wolf of Wall Street.” It’s one thing to dream up events with names like “Arctic Enema” and “Electroshock Therapy.” It’s quite another to get Diane from down the street to endure them with some girlfriends and consider it a bucket-list achievement when she does. Barely.
• The Duggar family. You still make entertainment news, and you are still having babies? Are you God’s way of running a contemporary chicken-versus-egg experiment?
• Bruno Mars. Because when Barbara puts people on her list, she gets to interview them, and if things go well and they want to run off with each other into the sunset, they can. Because they’re both grown adults and fate is fate. Because my husband will totally understand. Although you’d soften the blow by sending concert tickets.