By now, you have most likely heard the terrible news.
There's no way to sugarcoat it so I'll just blurt it out -- lifestyle guru/actress Gwyneth Paltrow and her rock-star husband, Chris Martin, are going their separate ways after 11 years of marriage.
Initially, as you can imagine, I was pretty bummed out because, like you, I am one of those People-magazine-reading persons whose happiness depends entirely on the shallow personal lives of celebrities who, if I ever came within 100 metres of one, would hit me with a restraining order faster than Lindsay Lohan can drain a vodka martini.
Anyway, the point is, I found reason to hope when I read the announcement entitled "Conscious Uncoupling" the former couple posted on Goop, Paltrow's lifestyle website, that stated: "It is with hearts full of sadness that we have decided to separate... We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and co-parent, we will be able to continue in the same manner."
Is that great news, or what, celebrity watchers? Gwyneth and the rock star are not divorcing! No, they are... hold on while I look at those words one more time... "consciously uncoupling."
Whew! I was getting worried for a few minutes. The problem is, some unhip persons -- and I think you know who you are -- do not have a (very bad word) clue what "conscious uncoupling" means. Fortunately, once again, I am here to enlighten you.
What with being a master of New Age terminology, Uncle Doug is going to carefully explain this metaphysical concept to you via the following real-life scenarios he has just made up:
EXAMPLE NO. 1: A senior manager at a prosperous company informs a redundant subordinate they, like Gwyneth and Chris, must go their separate ways.
Employee: "You wanted to see me, sir?"
Manager: "Yes, Bill, I have great news: We are giving you the freedom to explore an entirely new career path!"
Employee (confused): "I beg your pardon?"
Manager: "The company and you are going to, um, detach from one another in a sincere and humanitarian effort to allow each party to explore different avenues along the highway to inner peace and professional fulfilment."
Employee: "You're firing me???"
Manager: "No, not at all. We're 'consciously uncoupling' you!"
Employee: "So you're going to keep paying me?"
Manager: "Ha ha ha. No! As we consciously uncouple, we feel it would be best to divest ourselves of those meaningless trappings that sully our auras and prevent us from being the best we can be without each other."
Manager: "Also, I'm going to need you to empty your desk and return the keys to the company car!"
EXAMPLE NO. 2: A father gently explains to his young daughter the family's beloved hamster, Stanley, has gone to meet his maker.
Dad: "Hi, sweetheart, I need to talk to you about Stanley."
Daughter: "What's wrong, Dad?"
Dad: "Oh, nothing, sweetie, but Mom and I wanted to let you know Stanley and life on Earth have decided to 'consciously uncouple' with each other from a metaphysical perspective."
Daughter (eyes glistening): "Dad, are you trying to say Stanley is dead?"
Dad: "Dead? No, not in the slightest, dear. That's much too harsh for this situation. What's happening is Stanley's corporeal existence has made a decision to consciously uncouple from his spiritual being and move on to a different plateau where he is free to, um, shuffle off this mortal coil."
Daughter: "Also, he's not breathing!"
Dad: "Yes, there's that, too."
EXAMPLE NO. 3: A newspaper columnist tries to explain to his wife he is separating himself from certain household tasks.
Wife: "I thought we agreed you were going to clean the garage!"
Columnist (on couch): "I was, but now I'm 'consciously uncoupling' from that inhumane marital requirement."
Wife (eyes like lasers): "Run that by me again, cupcake!"
Columnist (glancing up from his paper): "My inner child tells me that to keep my karma in harmonic convergence I need to remain here on the couch and bond with the idea of reading the sports section of the newspaper and eating salsa straight from the jar."
Wife (slipping on her coat and heading for the door): "Good luck with that, Stud Muffin."
Columnist: "Where are you going, honey?"
Wife: "England! I hear Chris Martin is single!"