Okay, so Arizona Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a bill that would allow businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians. That I get, that makes sense. What doesn't make sense to me is the bill itself, which would have bestowed upon business owners the right to lose customers if they so chose. Not surprisingly, this turned out to be a right that no Arizona business owner wanted, thank you very much.
According to yesterday's New York Times:
"The bill was inspired by incidents in other states in which florists, photographers and bakers were sued for refusing to cater to same-sex couples."
But wait...same-sex marriages aren't even legal in Arizona. Who's going to plan a same-sex marriage with all the trimmings in Arizona?
But back to my point: What company, large or small, wants to turn down business? Even places like Hobby Lobby and Chick-filet, who came out with an anti-gay message, drew the line at refusing to do business with gays. The buck stops where the buck starts.
Granted, there have been societies throughout the history of our occupation of the planet in which it's been standard operating procedure for businesses to deny service to certain groups of their fellow human beings.
But don't you think there must have been luncheonette owners in the American South in the 1950's who would have liked to have been able to fill all the seats in their restaurant, no matter what the skin color of the customers? Must there not have been German shop owners during the Depression of the 1930's who would love to have been able to remove the "No Dogs and Jews" signs from their windows? Weren't there probably hungry star-belly sneetch weiner-roast caterers who would have been glad to pick up plain-belly events, too?
The problem is that a law that says "You don't have to serve those people" can turn into "You better not serve those people." Which means you can't serve those people, even if you want to.
But to those business owners who choose to follow the demands of a religion that forbids them from providing to certain of their brothers or sisters, I offer this advice: When a member of the group of which you disapprove attempts to avail themselves of your product or service, just tell them you're sorry, but you have more business than you can handle. And rest assured, they'll take their business elsewhere.
On Monday I'll share a story from an experience Tom and I had 35 years ago that's somewhat contiguous to this same subject.
Everyone have a wonderful weekend! 8)
The subject of my last couple days' blogs reminded me of a short story I wrote years ago inspired by my work as director of the youth activities center at the American army post in Babenhausen, Germany back in 1973. ( Before I transferred to the craft shop job in Aschaffenburg). My job in Babenhausen involved working with the children of the military who lived on the post.
This story was published in the January 3, 1997 edition of "The Christian Courier" and again in the August 16, 1998 edition of "Seek".
I thought I'd share it again.
The Major's Kid
All right. So maybe we did push the kid a little far that day. But hey, he had it coming. Or at least we thought he did. I mean, how were we supposed to know who that kid really was? To us he was Jeremy Shuward, Jeremy the Jerk, Big-Shot Shuward, too good to hang with the rest of the kids in the post housing area just because his father was Army Major Henry Shuward, transferred to
our small post from some big-cheese military assignment in Washington, D.C.
"Shuward thinks he's so cool 'cause his old man's a major." That's what Dean said one day when a bunch of us were hanging out, shooting some baskets on the playground behind the housing area.
"Well, gee," said Mary, "my dad's a major, too!"
"Yeah," Dean said, "but you don't have a problem about it."
"Maybe he's racist," suggested Marcus, who's black.
"Maybe he's racist against Puerto Ricans," I added, being Puerto Rican myself.
"Oh, he probably can't stand girls!" wailed Erin.
"Aw, come off it!" Tim finally cut in. "Look, the kid's and army brat like the rest of us, isn't he? He's gotta know how to mix!"
We all nodded. I told them how the first Saturday after Jeremy moved in my dad and I were walking over to the PX for some lunch when we saw him sitting on his front step. My dad told me to go and invite "the new boy" to come with us.
"Did he come?" Mary asked.
"Ha, you kidding?"
"Well, I believe it," Erin huffed. "When I went up to him in the school cafeteria and told him how my dad worked in his dad's office he just sort of sneered like he could care less. Last time I try to be nice to him!"
"And talk about a guy who can't take a joke!" Jason added. "All I did was toss that picture of those dead cockroaches on his desk..."
"Aw, man, that picture was wicked," Dean cut in,"especially how you wrote 'Jeremy's family reunion' at the top!"
"Boy, did he get mad," I said, recalling the scene in our eighth grade class. "Crumpled the picture up and threw it across the room!"
"He sure got a detention for that!" Jason laughed.
"You wish!" Dean snapped. "Shuward got out of that detention. The teachers are so understanding when it's an officer's kid!"
"Oh yeah?" Tim spat, "Well, I'm an officer's kid and I never got out of a detention!"
"Me neither," added Jason indignantly, "And my mom's a master sergeant!"
"That is so unfair!" moaned Erin.
"Gee, I don't know," Mary spoke up. "Maybe he was having a bad day."
"I'd like to give him a bad day," muttered Tim.
"Whoa, Mama, and today could be the day!" Jason pointed to the approaching figure of Jeremy Shuward.
"Yo, Shuward," shouted Time, grabbing the basketball from me, "here, catch, Shuward!"
Now let me say right here that Tim never really meant to hit Jeremy in the head with that ball. I mean, for crying out loud, Shuward could easily have caught the dumb ball, or jumped out of the way. But no, he just stood there and let the ball hit him!
"Hey, man, I'm sorry," Tim called, actually sounding sorry. "Hey, you okay?"
But when Shuward ignored him, turned his back and just walked off, Tim shouted, "Dang it, Shuward, what's wrong with you, anyway?!"
That was when Dean yelled, "Aw, don't worry about Shuward, he's just fine, aren't you, Shuward? Hey, how about your old man? The Major doing fine today, too?"
The kid stopped dead. He turned to us, his chest heaving, his eyes swollen with hate, anger, and tears.
"Stop calling me Shuward!" he screamed, "my name's not Shuward! It's Jones! Jeremy Jones! My father is First Sergeant Paul Jones!" He spun around and glared at Dean. "You want to know how my father's doing? Well, he's dead! Left for the Gulf War and never came back! Major Shuward is my step-father!
Then he ran off.
We stood around for a few minutes. Dean, Mary, and Jason sounded like they suddenly came down with a bad case of the sniffles. Tim couldn't stop clearing his throat. And me, I kept rubbing at a sting in my eye that just wouldn't quit. Erin was out-and-out bawling.
"My dad was in the Gulf War," she sobbed.
"My mom was over there," Jason said softly.
"C'mon," Tim said, "Let's find him."
We fanned out across the housing area until somebody spotted Jeremy behind a building leaning his elbows against a wall, his head buried in his arms. We formed a semi-circle around him.
"Hey," Tim said softly, "you should have told us."
"Jeremy, we understand," said Mary.
"Could've been any of our dads," said Dean.
"Or my mom," added Jason.
Erin was still crying too hard to say anything.
To our surprise Jeremy turned and faced us. His eyes were no longer filled with anger, only sadness.
"Thanks guys, thanks," he said, rubbing a sleeve across his eyes. Then he walked off.
We watched while the sad, slouched figure of Jeremy Jones grew smaller with each step then disappeared around a corner.
I felt like something inside me was about to burst. I started running, then we were all running.
Tim reached Jeremy a step ahead of the rest of us.
"Jeremy," he said breathlessly, "We want you to know that, that..."
"That you're not alone," Mary finished.
"That's right, man," Jason said, "C'mon, you got to be with us!"
"Yeah," the others chimed in.
Jeremy hesitated. He looked at us standing around him.
"Okay," he said softly.
So we headed off together that day, Jeremy Jones with us. Still one quiet kid, but we knew what was in his heart, and he knew that we were there for him.
And hey, what more did any of us need to know?
There was another article in yesterday's New York Times ("Two Paths To A Scandal") on the unfolding case of the bullying of the young Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jon Martin by teammate Richie Incognito.
It turns out that Richie Incognito was only the ring leader of a clique made up of two other members of the offensive line, John Jerry and Michael Pouncey, described in the article as Incognito's "henchmen".
So now this case starts taking on the form of the more garden variety middle-school monster. Only all grown up. And on steroids. And exponentially ugly.
According to the Times article, "If Incognito was the 'disease' plaguing the Miami organization, an unnamed player told investigators, Jerry and Pouncey had been badly infected."
And the symptom of their infection was meanness, wrapped in nasty jokes and cruel horseplay and played off as locker room camaraderie, fun, team humor. The kind of meanness that leaves the victim no defense and the aggressor innocent with the defense of , "Hey, I'm joking!"
But, of course, the point of this joking wasn't to make Martin laugh. The point of a nasty joke is never to make its victim laugh. The point of a nasty joke is always to bring another down, which gives the perpetrator a moment of satisfaction, a temporary release for whatever it is that grips his or her troubled soul.
And a bullying personality is always on the lookout for a soft target.
Which is why pretending to laugh off insults is never effective for stopping a bully. After all, nobody enjoys being insulted in any guise and the bully sees the victim's false laughter as capitulation as well as permission for others to laugh and a boost to the bully's reputation as a funny jokester.
Trying to ignore mean jokes is no more effective than trying to laugh them off. A bully knows when he or she has hit their target, and a bully will keep trying until he or she hits the bulls eye of forcing an angry or emotional reaction from his or her victim. After which the bully may feign innocence, no intention to hurt, and may even ask forgiveness. There are many variations on the theme of bullying.
But in this case there's at least been some justice: Richie Incognito has been fired from the Miami Dolphins and his football career is in the dumpster, as probably will be the careers of his lackeys John Jerry and Michael Pouncey by the time the investigation is completed.
And some good may come of it: This incidence of bullying is being investigated, laid out, analyzed, dissected and presented in all its vicious detail on such a big platform that social scientists could use it as a research tool, study it as scientists study any other disease in hopes of finding a cure, or at least a treatment for those afflicted by the disease.
But can there ever be a cure for bullying? Doesn't really seem likely, though I like to hope that we, as the human race, are still evolving.
But in the meantime, here's to all the soft hearts and gentle spirits out there, those to whom hard, hurtful words are a foreign language and reciprocal meanness a garment too small. I celebrate all the nice people in the world and I'm thankful for you. And though you may yourselves sometimes have to suffer the meanness of others, never let the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" change who you are. You are a gift to the planet.
Now, I'm the first to admit that I don't follow sports.
But there is one sports story I've been following, that of the NFL investigation of bullying within the Miami Dolphins.
Though the story of Dolphin offensive lineman Jon Martin quitting the team over harassment by fellow lineman Richie Incognito is several months old, it keeps surfacing in the news as the investigation continues and, more recently, as part of the debate over whether the NFL is ready to accept a gay recruit.
Apparently homophobic taunts were part of Incognito's harassment of Martin, as were racial slurs and graphic sexual descriptions of his sister.
Then there were the text messages Incognito sent Martin. Disgusting. Revolting.
But it was all in good fun, so much fun, in fact, that other team members would join Incognito in ganging up on Martin, who would just laugh it off while inside he churned with anger and humiliation.
And Richie Incognito was as likely to publicly treat in Martin as his best friend, support him, help him out on the field, fling an arm around him and tell him he'd always be there for him, as he was to make him the butt of a group joke. Everybody on the team knew that Richie Incognito and Jon Martin were buddies.
But for Jon Martin, Richie incognito's passive-aggression was disabling.
This I believe: what ultimately broke Jon Martin wasn't the bullying. It was the shame he felt over just swallowing it every time.
According the February 14 New York Times article entitled ‘A Classic Case of Bullying’ on the Dolphins, Report Finds, Martin wrote in an email to his parents:
‘I figured out a major source of my anxiety. I’m a pushover, a people pleaser. I avoid confrontation whenever I can, I always want everyone to like me. I let people talk about me, say anything to my face, and I just take it, laugh it off, even when I know they are intentionally trying to disrespect me.’
In subsequent emails he wrote:
‘Happened 2 days ago. And I laughed it off. Because I am too nice of a person. They say terrible things about my sister. I don’t do anything...’
‘I’m never gonna change. I got punked again today.’ He continued: ‘And I never do anything about it...’
So Jon Martin was torn up with self-hatred for being too nice. Too good natured. Too decent. Too much of what the people who loved him probably loved him for.
And that's the real wound of bullying or any kind of meanness: it can make people hate themselves for feeling like they're not strong enough, man or woman enough to stand up to their abusers; and yet for such people, retaliation by sinking to the level of their abusers would only make them hate themselves more. The only one they know how to beat up on is themselves and so they do it until they've beaten themselves sick.
Been there, done that.
Okay, here's the embarrassing chocolate cake* story I promised last Friday.
*Actually, only the icing was chocolate. The cake was yellow.
About 12 or 13 years ago my daughter Theresa used to babysit this sweet, precocious little 10-year-old girl.
Her parents were this young, hip, nice, good-looking professional couple who had a lovely home with an arty interior decor off Venetian Way in Gahanna.
One Friday evening they hired Theresa to babysit for their daughter while they went out for dinner and a movie.
Now, back when my kids used to babysit, before the age of cell phones at birth, I would usually call the house they were babysitting a time or two during the evening just to say hi and check that everything was going okay.
On this particular night when I called the little girl answered. I asked her how everything was going and she replied that the police were there.
She and Theresa had been hearing these strange noises that sounded like they were coming from upstairs. The girl's parents happened to call and Theresa told them about the noises, so just to be sure the parents called the police and asked them to stop by and check, which he police were doing when I called.
I decided to drive over to the house and find out if everything was all right. When I got there the police had finished checking the house and the officer told me that no one was inside the house, but possibly a tree branch was hitting against the roof.
While I was there the girl's mother called again so I talked to her and told her what the police said. The mother seemed concerned, but I told her not to worry, enjoy the evening, I'd stay with the girls until she and her husband got home. The mother then seemed greatly relieved and told me they'd be home after the movie.
So Theresa, the little girl and I played games, watched TV, and generally occupied ourselves for a while.
I don't remember exactly why I meandered out into the kitchen. (I probably just wanted to check it out. They really did have a lovely home. I think I was just sort of making the rounds).
On the kitchen island counter I noticed a bakery box with a cellophane front through which I could see what looked like the remains of a birthday cake.
"Oh, did you just have a birthday?" I called out to the living room to the little girl.
"No," she said, bouncing out into the kitchen. "It's a 'Happy Day Off' cake. We had off from school today so my friends came over this afternoon and my mom bought this cake for my friends and me to celebrate the day off. It's from the Flour Mill Bakery."
What a cool mom, thought I, that she would buy her daughter and friends a 'Happy Day Off' cake from the Flour Mill Bakery!*
*An upscale Gahanna cakery. I don't know if it's still there.
"See?" The litte girl lifted the lid of the box to reveal the remains of a most beautiful dark chocolate-iced yellow cake.
Though the cake was half gone, the area that remained was frosted and decorated with red and chocolate icing roses with green stems with a perfect shelled icing border around the edge.
"Wow, that's a beautiful cake," said I with true admiration for this edible work of art. Upon closer inspection I could see that the icing was thick and substantial.
"You want a piece?" The girl offered.
"Oh, no, no," I said, "I'm just admiring it. Was it yummy?"
"Yeah! You can have a piece."
"Oh, no, thanks. I bet that icing was good."
Now, it's a fact that I'm not a chocoholic. Everyone knows I'm a vanilla girl, right down the line. But that icing....so smooth....so creamy-looking...so...enticing!
The little girl pulled a knife from a drawer and proffered it to me. "Here, have a piece!"
"No, that's okay." But I took the knife. I should have run from that kitchen right then but instead I took the knife!
The little girl skipped back out into the living room. "Aren't you going to have some?" I called to her, "Shall I cut a piece for you?"
"No, thanks," called the little girl. Fortunately my daughter Theresa was in no danger as a potential partner in crime since she was a vegetarian who never ate sweets back then.*
*Does now, didn't then.
So I stood alone in the kitchen of this palacial home which was not mine but which had been entrusted to my care for the evening along with all its contents, including this cake which I was now staring down. Permission to cut into and eat this cake had not been granted me by the owners but by the 10-year-old child in my supervision, who, not having reached her majority, was not technically eligible to grant me, an adult, leave to help my self to anything in her parents' house.
You get what I'm saying?
Oh, but what the heck, it was only a piece of cake! Who'd even notice if I had just one little piece, just to see what it tasted like? Who'd care?
So, following the instructions encoded in my genes and passed down from my great ancestress Eve, who once stood before the apple even as I now stood before this cake, I cut myself a piece. A big piece.
Was it good? Was the yellow cake not of the dry, air-filled, crumby variety, but rather moist, sweet and dense? Oh yeah!
Was the icing a little firm on the surface but pure melt-in-your mouth cream beneath? Ohhhh yeah!
Was I standing over the cake with the knife still sitting on the counter, stuffing my face with the cake, which I held in my hand, when The parents walked into the house? Ohhhh yeah!
I mean, picture it: Here's this lady you hardly know, she offered to watch your kid for you, but your kid's in the living room and this lady is in your kitchen eating your cake. If I caught somebody standing in my kitchen eating my cake, well, quite frankly, I would have thought it was pretty weird.
But how gracious were these people as they stood in the doorway of their kitchen listening to me babble some explanation or other, cake still in hand?
"Wouldn't you like a plate?" asked the father.
"How about a glass of milk?" asked the mother.
"Are you sure?" asked the father, "mi casa tu casa."
To this day whenever I hear the expression "mi casa tu casa" I still experience a faint tingling of embarrassment.
Anyway, it was six months before Theresa heard from the family again. During those six months I figured they'd fired her as babysitter because of her weird, cake-pilfering mother.
But no, they hadn't fired Theresa. Shortly after the cake incident the girl turned eleven and the parents felt she was old enough to start leaving at home on her own. But they did ask Theresa to come over one more time, and at that time they gave her a good-bye gift which the little girl picked out, a mug painted like a black-and-white cow-hide (in honor of Theresa being a non-cow-eater) with a little ceramic cow figure sitting at the bottom of the inside of the cup.
They really were nice people.
In honor of the East Coast and Midwestern snow and ice finally giving some consideration to the possibility of melting, I figured a celebratory subject was in order. And what's a more celebratory subject than cake - or its popular cousin, the brownie?
But let's star with cake. I'm an icing person. Cake in and of itself does not particularly interest me, but when it comes to icing, I go for the jugular (so to speak).
Subsequently, my favorite cake on the planet is grocery store-bought birthday cake. I don't care about some fancy confection from some gourmet boutique bakery, just give me a slice (a big one!) of vanilla cake from Krogers or Meijers or Giant Eagle* and I'm in icing Shangri-la. And if you don't want your icing, just scrape it off it off your slice and shoot it my way! And it all has to be vanilla. No chocolate cake for me, please, though I have been known to partake of a piece of chocolate cake in a moment of desperation (like if there's no other desset available and I'm having a sugar jones. In fact I have a funny, extremely humbling - oh heck, it was mortifying! - story about me and a piece of chocolate cake that I'll share on Monday).
*Breaking my strictly-vanilla rule, Giant Eagle does have a strawberry-filled, vanilla-iced birthday cake that is swoon-worthy.
However the one exception to my no-chocolate rule is brownies*, provided they're accompanied by vanilla ice cream and/or are iced.
*Funny, but I know a couple of fellow choco-phobes who likewise list brownies as their one exception.
Now, while you can sometimes get a good brownie icing atop a commercial or restaurant brownie, trying to find a good recipe for brownie icing is another story. The problem is that an icing that may work well with chocolate cake doesn't necessarily work well with brownies. In fact, I'm gonna just put it out there: as a rule, chocolate cake icing does not work with brownies. An icing suitable for cake will smother a brownie.
This I know by my own trial and error, because I spent years searching out an icing recipe that would work with brownies. I was like Indiana Jones searching for the Holy Grail in "Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade." I was always on the lookout for the brownie-icing recipe. I had many tries, many failures. I was like a woman possessed.
Then one day, I found it!
It was about, oh, 17 years ago at a high school graduation party at my friend Diana's house.
The party was taking place out in the backyard, but at one point I was in the kitchen talking to Diana when my eyes hit upon it: on a counter, probably the dessert left over from last night's dinner, a plastic-wrap-covered half-empty pan of brownies with a thin, dark, firm-looking icing; I locked onto those iced brownies and I could no more turn away than a heat-seeking missle locked onto its target.
"Um, Patti...would you like one of those brownies?" Asked my gracious hostess who couldn't help but notice that I was suddenly more pre-occupied with her left-over brownies than with our conversation.
"Oh," I cried, snapping out of my brownie-trance. I then explained to her my hunt (translate obsession) for the perfect brownie icing. Diana was more than happy to assist me in my quest, and offered me one of her brownies.
I thanked her and took the generous square she cut for me.
I took one bite. Unsure that I could trust love at first taste, I took another. Then another.
Eureka! The bells rang and the fireworks burst in my brain as the neural transmitters rushed the message that at last I'd found the perfect brownie icing!
And today, many years later, it's my joy to share Diana's brownie icing recipe with you:
Best Brownie Icing On The Planet
Frosts a 9x13 pan of brownies
2 cups of confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup of cocoa
1/2 of 1/3 of a cup of boiling water
2 1/2 tablespoons of butter or margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
Combine the sugar and cocoa. Add the water, butter, and vanilla. Mix with a mixer until smooth. Spread the icing on the brownies right away as this icing firms up after a bit.
Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!
So if anyone asked me for some marriage advice based on my 37 years' experience I'd tell them:
Remember that you didn't marry yourself, you married someone else. Respect that.
Always be as polite to your spouse as you'd be to anyone else. More polite, even.
Thank your spouse all the time for every little thing he or she does, even if it's something you normally wouldn't think to thank a person for, like making the dinner, emptying the trash, being nice to your side of the family, cleaning the furnace filter, etc. Constantly thanking keeps you aware and keeps things in balance. And reminds you to be grateful.
Love means always saying you're sorry.
Remember that however you behave you are giving your spouse implicit permission to behave likewise. That's called the "Goose-Gander Rule."
Remember to treat your spouse as you would like to be treated. That's called "The Golden Rule".
Stretch yourselves for each other. Love is sometimes a matter of the will.
And remember: You will never regret keeping your mouth shut.
Right around the time Tom and I were married there was a quote going around by the Gestalt psychologist Frederick Perls that went:
I do my thing and you do yours. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, then it is beautiful.
At the time the quote was popular I thought it was a bunch of air-headed hippy nonsense.
Now I consider it good advice.
Today Tom and I have been married 37 years.
Quite a few years ago I submitted the following to a Columbus Dispatch Marriage Proposal Essay Contest ( I used to be all about entering writing contests), and it was published in the Dispatch on February 14, 1996:
In 1976 I was working as a crafts instructor at an American Army post in Aschaffenburg, Germany. There was a young Lieutenant stationed in nearby Babenhausen with whom I'd developed a friendship that had deepened into something much more. He took a week's leave to go skiing in the Alps, but after three days he realized that the beautiful mountain landscape could be put to an even better use.
"Can you come down on your day off? There's something I've got to show you!" The sound of Tom's voice over the phone was enticement enough. I hopped a train for Berchtesgaden, a gorgeous little jewel-box of a town in the heart of the Alps. Tom met me at the train station and we drove high up into the mountain known as the Obersalzberg to the old Platterhof, a magnificent hotel built on the mountain by Hitler then reclaimed by the American Army after World War II and renamed the General Walker Hotel.
He led me out to the hotel's wide stone veranda overlooking a breath-taking panorama of the Alps, and at a moment when we were both deep in the wonder and majesty of the mountains he asked me to be his wife.
Actually, there's one more really mushy, gushy sentence about our marriage being as strong as the mountains, but I thought I'd spare you, as it even triggers my gag reflex, and I wrote the thing.
But anyway, that's how it went down all those years ago.
Subsequent to his marriage proposal Tom admitted that he didn't have a ring because he wasn't sure how or where to buy one.
"Hey, no problem!" said I. "I've got one all picked out. I'll go buy it myself!"
I'm practical that way.
So I went to the little jewelry store in Aschaffenburg and bought the ring in the display window that had been catching my eye each time I passed the store.
My engagement ring cost 80 marks, about $32 at the time. This isn't my original wedding band, which we bought from Harry The Ring King on Sansom Street, also known as Jeweler's Row, in Philadelphia. My original band was always too big and one day it just slipped off my finger and disappeared. My original band was a big, wide, black oxidized gold thing with geometric shapes cut into it. Whenever I washed my hands the water seeped in through the holes and stayed trapped under the ring so that my finger was always broken out in a rash under my ring. All right, so maybe I didn't look too hard for it when it slipped off. The one in the photo, which is the one I wear now, I bought for $19 at the jewelry counter of the Service Merchandise store that used to be in Columbus across from Eastland.
Tom's band, purchased from Harry The Ring King for $26. While I was picking out my band Tom noticed this one, priced at $30, and commented, "Hey, didn't we see that exact ring across the street for $26?"
Harry (or whoever he was ) overheard Tom and boomed, "Nobody undersells Harry The Ring King!" and he sold Tom the ring for $26!
Then again, some things are priceless.
While I was writing yesterday's blog on Cassie and Will's engagement I was very aware that I'd opened the blog with a Woody Allen quote. In truth, I still feel funny about Woody Allen.
But two weeks ago I wouldn't even have considered using a quote from him in a blog of mine. Two weeks ago I resolved never to watch another Woody Allen movie - hard for me, a huge fan. I wait for every new movie of his and I can watch his old ones over and over.
But not any more, I decided, after reading his adopted daughter Dylan Farrow's February 1 letter to the New York Times in which she spoke out about how her father Woody Allen once sexually molested her 21 years earlier when she was 7 years old.
The letter was heart-wrenching. Here was a young woman who'd spent her whole life suffering, watching the world glorify the man who'd assaulted her when she was a child. Now, for the sake of other survivors of sex abuse, she was telling her story. And I was done with Woody Allen.
And yet...Well, there were a couple of things about Ms. Farrow's letter that didn't quite 100% add up for me: If Woody Allen was a pedophile then why were there no victims before or since Dylan? And why only on that one occasion?
But what made the least sense was a statement made by the district attorney in the case that there was enough evidence for an indictment against Woody Allen but that he, the prosecutor, was dropping criminal proceedings for the sake of Dylan, whom he saw as fragile.
Now, why in the world would a district attorney be willing to let someone, especially a big celebrity, get away with a sex crime against a child if he had enough evidence for case? That seemed fishy.
Still, Ms. Farrow's letter had me convinced, no less because it appeared on the blog of Nicholas Kristof, the highly respected New York Times op-ed columnist who advocates for victims of injustice world-wide.
Then a week later the New York Times published Woody Allen's response to Dylan Farrow's accusation.
And though I had already sentenced and hung the man in my mind, as I read his response I found myself mentally loosening the knot and helping him off the scaffold.
Granted, Mr. Allen is a wonderful writer with the ability to state his case very clearly and very well. But all the points he made were valid, among them:
That he and Mia Farrow were in the middle of a mean, vicious divorce at the time
That the Child Sexual Abuse Clinic of the Yale-New Haven Hospital, called in by the police to investigate the case, concluded that the child had not been sexually molested
That Woody Allen took and passed a lie-detector test
That Mia Farrow's son Moses, a 36-year-old family therapist, is convinced that Allen never molested his sister. Moses Farrow admitted that as a child it was drummed into him and his siblings by their mother to hate Woody Allen
That the district attorney was in fact chomping at the bit to prosecute and was bitterly disappointed by the lack of evidence. To me this would explain his saying that he was dropping the case to protect Dylan instead of admitting that there was no evidence, thus pronouncing Allen guilty without trying him.
After reading Woody Allen's article I went back to re-read the article Nicholas Kristof wrote as an introduction the day before Dylan Farrow's letter was published in his column. On the second reading I picked up what I'd missed the first time around, back when I was convinced of Allen's guilt: That Nicholas Kristof wasn't convinced that Woody Allen was guilty
That he was merely giving Dylan Farrow the opportunity to speak out
That he was doing so because Dylan Farrow had asked him to publish her letter in his column and because her mother Mia Farrow is a friend of his
That Mr. Kristof's comments sounded like a disclaimer, not support of Ms. Farrow's accusation
So that's why I've retracted my conviction of Woody Allen. Not that he's a saint, maybe not even a particularly admirable person. And the whole Soon yi thing is, at the very least, weird. But I'm finding it hard to believe that he sexually abused his daughter.
Dylan Farrow's letter in Nicholas Kristof's column is accompanied by her photograph.
Woody Allen's letter is accompanied by a photograph of her sitting on his lap when she was about three years old.
In both pictures her eyes have the same sad, haunted expresssion.
My heart still goes out to Dylan Farrow.
Woody Allen once said, "If you want to make God laugh just tell him your plans."
I know what the guy was saying, though I don't think any of us actually believes that God was laughing him- or herself into fits over all the plans that unravelled this past week because of the 6500 plane flights that had to be cancelled due to snow and ice storms.
I sure wasn't too happy when my flight and subsequently my trip to visit my mother in Seaford, Delaware, was cancelled. I was supposed to leave Thursday morning; the phone messages from the airline started Wednesday afternoon. My first flight was cancelled, I rescheduled, then the second flight was cancelled and rescheduled, then the third was cancelled - well, after that I just folded. A trip to visit my mother on February 13, 2014 wasn't in the cards.
But something else was.
I spent Thursday in a state of semi-bummedness until my friend Marianne invited me over to watch a TIVO of last Sunday's tribute to the Beatles. (A must-see, of course, and though I was warmed by the fact that both Sir Paul and Ringo are still on their game - while watching them perform I imagined them still faithfully practicing their music every day, and I cheered that Sir Paul and Ringo wore black sneakers for their performances, which makes total sense and sends the message that if Sir Paul and Ringo can wear black sneakers to a gala event then so can I, though I'm many astral planes blow them in their musical ability. But maybe if I practice and work as hard as I can at my craft then I, too, will be as worthy as they are to wear black sneakers anywhere I want to...um, I think I'm digressing. What I was about to say is that while Marianne and I were watching the Beatles tribute I couldn't help wishing that we were watching old Beatles performances instead of interpretive covers by contemporary artists. I guess I'm just a purist like that. With few exceptions, I do prefer my Beatles, my ABBA, and my Four Seasons, authentic unless performed by a really good impersonator group, like the local Columbus band called The British Invasion. I also like my bagels plain, my ice cream vanilla, and please, no fruity sauces on my meat. I don't wear make-up, nail polish, perfume or hair color. Or jewelry except for my watch, wedding rings and earrings to fill my pierced ears, which I got only at my mother's behest back when I was young. Am I digressing again?)
So Thursday night after I got home from Marianne's I received a call from Will, boyfriend of my niece Cassie. Will was at that moment here in Columbus on business, and earlier in the day while walking through a shopping mall he passed by the display window of a jewelry store where a sparkling diamond engagement ring caught his eye, hypnotized him, then pulled him into the store.
When Will came to he had a gorgeous round halo diamond ring in his pocket and a question to pop.
The next day being Valentine's Day, he had a burst of inspiration. He'd propose to his sweetheart old-school-style, down on one knee, on Valentine's Day.
It was a lovely plan except for one little glitch: he was here in Columbus, Ohio and Cassie was back home in Raleigh, North Carolina.
So he made up a story to get her to drop everything and fly out the next day to Columbus: he told her he'd won tickets to a George Strait concert in Columbus,then he bought tickets to the George Strait concert. His plan worked: she bought a plane ticket (miraculously, the flights out of Raleigh were were running smooth as Jello with Cool Whip), cancelled work, and packed her bag.
Will's plan was to propose to Cassie in the airport as she stepped into the baggage claim area and that's where I was needed. He wanted me to snap the photo of the Big Moment.
Of course I said yes, and soared immediately into a state of high anxiety over blowing the photo of the Big Moment.
When Will and I met up on Friday morning I told him that I was really nervous.
"You're nervous!" he said, "I couldn't sleep all night!"
So Will and I were two nervous people when we arrived at the baggage claim area of Port Columbus shortly before Cassie's plane. Will scoped out the area pretty quick and told me where he planned to stand then handed me his Ipad with a few simple instructions on how to work the camera. And it was my intention to follow his directions, but in my jitteryness I started yammering all this advice about where he should stand, where I should stand, wouldn't over here be a nice back drop? How about the lighting over there? Are you sure you don't like this corner better?
I was being annoying, I knew I was being annoying, but somehow I couldn't stop , it was like I'd shifted into auto-annoying gear.
I snapped out of it when I heard, "Okay, here she comes!"
I started snapping as Will held up a sign that said "Cassie Rupp". Then he turned the sign over to where it read, "Will you marry me?"
Then he was down on one knee offering her the beautiful ring, then slipping it on her finger.
The crowd at the airport broke into applause while I snapped away, filled with gratitude for the gift of being part of this happy moment.
Will's plans worked out perfectly. God had to be smiling.
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.