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A Tale of Two Rubins: the Orchid Potter and the 'Wow' Peddler

February 15, 1994|AL MARTINEZ

In order to end the confusion, 2 launches into a narrative of his own success, in contrast to 1's pathetic orchid-potting existence. He shows me copies of his personal and corporate income tax forms to prove his worth and says he has made more money in one year than Rubin 1 will make his entire life.

It is a strange monologue coming from a guy who once placed money in the same category as the John Birch Society, but he delivers it with a verve not to be denied. Suddenly, by his narrative, "Wow!" is transformed into something on a level with mother's milk and holy water.

1, meanwhile, seems content to leave the show to his more famous counterpart, mumbling occasionally that he still loves peace and doesn't mind potting orchids, but that's not good enough for 2, whose kinetic personality is not unlike that of a mongoose in a tank of cobras. He is everywhere at once. Even when he is sitting he is standing.


It is at this point that 2 offers to make 1 rich. "I want you to work for me," he says. "I want every Jerry Rubin in America to work for me."

He offers to train 1 to sell his health potions, even as he has trained thousands of others. Rubin calls his networking "people's capitalism," a phrase that manages an egalitarian cant even as it holds out the prospect of ease and opulence through entrepreneurial magic.

Rubin 1 mumbles something in response, to which 2 says, "What? Speak up, what'd you say?" in words that whistle by 1's ear like .50-caliber bullets.

"I'd like to think it over," 1 says uneasily in a tone only slightly louder than before. Clearly, he would like to leave.

Rubin 2 is not happy with the offer left dangling but lets it go at that. I suspect 1 will go right on potting orchids for $6 an hour and 2 will go right on hustling "Wow!" until he is Wow King of the World. He is already planning a news conference based on our Clarification Session, and who knows what else. Oprah? Donahue? Geraldo?

For my part, I am no happier or smarter for having drunk "Wow!" and hope never to hear from another Jerry Rubin for the rest of my life. It would almost be worth another world war just to keep them all busy working for peace. How could it hurt?

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