The Loves of Ellen's Life
When, I ask her, did she feel her most beautiful? "The day I got married," she says unhesitatingly. I see her eyes go red and watery, and I panic...I made Ellen DeGeneres cry! "Excuse me," she says, and runs off, while the animals look at me accusingly. I'm pretty sure George the Love Cat is going to bite my leg. "You're worse than Barbara Walters!" she says when she returns, blowing her nose. Well, in that case, I ask her what kind of a tree she would be if she were a tree. "A weeping willow," she shoots back. "It's just very emotional," DeGeneres continues. "You find the person you love, you think you've come this far...and anyway, I never thought I'd have a wedding, and I did, and it meant more than I imagined."
DeGeneres and de Rossi had known each other for years but were in relationships. After one evening together they both just knew, and quickly moved in together.
A few minutes later the object of Ellen's affection emerges from inside the house: de Rossi, the lithe Australian beauty who will soon be costarring in the quirky new TV show Better Off Ted and possibly working on the movie version of Arrested Development. She is barefoot and wearing a blinged-out T-shirt that reads "I LOVE MY WIFE," a wedding gift from the singer Missy Elliot. She is also nursing an elaborately bandaged finger. I ask which of the two women is more domestic. "Well, I sliced this finger cutting vegetables to put into a salad," she says cheerfully. "Then I really cut it afterwards, washing the knife. So I guess I'm not so domestic. But I try."
DeGeneres watches de Rossi with a mixture of bemusement, adoration, and pride. It's the look of Spencer Tracy for Katharine Hepburn, Barack Obama for Michelle...the look each and every one of us would kill to inspire in our spouse. I finally think to ask them what their biggest domestic squabble is. Their brows both furrow as they contemplate the utter absurdity of having complaints about each other. These two really haven't been married long enough.
"Well!" says de Rossi, anxious to help, "I do leave half-finished beverages everywhere. I usually have three cups of tea going at once. I'm Australian. That's just what we do. And anyway, I was going to thank her, in our vows, for picking up all the glasses -- and say that she'd have to do that for the rest of her life. She took that on. But she's very good about it." They give each other That Look, and now I'm envious and bitter, hoping to come back in 10 years when they're bickering about whose turn it is to pick the hairball off the sofa.
My reverie is interrupted when de Rossi has to run to take a business call -- she's developing a line of vegan (nonleather) shoes that are stylish. Exit, wife; enter, Betty, DeGeneres' mom. She is toting an ancient Chihuahua as if it's a wee fashionable purse. She lives in a separate house on the estate, as does DeGeneres' older brother, Vance, who co-runs Steve Carell's production company. Some people like having their family near them; Ellen really, really likes it. The spirited DeGeneres matriarch, who has taken Ellen's gentle ribbing for years, is as deeply affected by Proposition 8 as her daughter is. But I don't want to ask her about it -- I'm terrified there will be more tears -- so we talk, instead, about Ellen, the little girl who carted around a Baby Dear doll everywhere, who rescued strays, who was Betty's "rock" when she had breast cancer. But the comedian isn't so sure she wants her mom participating. "She won't remember anything," Ellen says. "She'll make things up."