THERE ARE WORDS that stick with you from childhood, memorable words that shape your personal philosophy and conduct in your formative years, Here are a just a few off the top of my head, from history and from literature:
Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.
We hold these truths to be self-evident …
We have nothing to fear but fear itself. Neither a borrower nor a lender be.
Walk softly but carry a big stick This was their finest hour.
Half a league, half a league onward…
Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright …
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty Casey has struck out.
…and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will yes.
And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.
If you don’t recognize all of those, or if you have your own list, let’s get together for munchies on Broad Street and talk.
I had memorized The Gettysburg Address by eighth grade. I don’t remember if we were required to, or if I just read it so often I could recite it in its entirety.
But we grow up, and eloquent phrases yield to the necessities of daily living; self-actualization succumbs to shortcuts. The words that grab my attention now are more plebeian and prosaic: Dishwashersafe. Wrinkle-free. Fullyrefundable. Noassemblyrequired. And the Holy Grail of all who seek the easy way: Microwaveable.
That’s what life does to aspiring idealists, who aren’t fortunate enough to work in ivory towers and ponder all day long.
Then there are the words of warning that clutter our memory space, such as this or that pleasure causes cancer or will clog your arteries. Cook thoroughly. Pay by tomorrow to avoid disconnection. Keep out of reach of children (which now includes a certain former Alabama judge; more on that in a bit.)
Like many. I am a fan of Yogi-isms, words that Hall-of-Fame catcher Yogi Berra may or may not have said. Generally, they make him out to be a dunce. But you don’t call a perfect game in the World Series (1956) with a middling pitcher (Don Larsen) on the mound if you’re a dunce. My favorite Yogi-ism is funny at first glance, but actually rather wise if you think about it:
You can observe a lot just by watching.
The first thing I noticed about her was that she
was a rather attractive, if older, woman. The first thing she said was: “Empty your pockets.” Next, she led me to a bed, fluffed my pillow, and tucked me in. “Scoot your behind over. … No, not that much, back this way some,” she said. This might not be so bad after all, I thought. But the rest was incessant, ear-shattering noise. Just like a lot of my dates, I thought. Except that I didn’t even buy her dinner first, and we still had our clothes on.
No, what I’ve just described is an MRI exam, if you’re facing one and wondering what to expect. Except I can’t promise your nurse will be an attractive woman. I just seem to luck out that way. McDonald’s is all set to phase its dollar menu back in next year. Simultaneously, the American Heart Association will begin a fund-raising drive. (Just kidding, but when Clark Howard, the Atlanta-based consumer advocate, reported the announcement, he spun it as good news. I like Clark Howard; I once assisted him on a few stories, but it does bother me that he only looks at the bottom line, and doesn’t factor in considerations such as whether fast food will eventually run up your medical bills.)
The Boy Scouts have decided to admit girls. I have given this a lot of thought and decided it’s good for gender equality and so forth. And it’s better for our nation that all of our children learn survival skills, like building a campfire and roasting marshmallows, in the event the British ever attack us again.
But what keeps me wondering is an important question: Who’s going to come around to sell me Girl Scout cookies now?
On a serious note: The flood of allegations by women concerning sexual misconduct and outright assault is overdue. It’s time these men were held accountable. Harvey Weinstein’s no longer a movie mogul, but he’s rich, so small penance. Charlie Rose is no longer a journalist. The list is long and growing, but Roy Moore rightly garnered the most attention because several of his accusers were teenagers – at least one a minor –at the time of the alleged incidents
Why now, all of a sudden, some are asking? I think it’s because women were culturally indoctrinated for centuries to either succumb or tolerate it and keep their mouths shut. Women didn’t even have the right to vote in America until the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920. And it was almost another 50 years before the modern women’s movement gained traction. So this is just the next phase: Women are using their voices when men use their power as advantage.
In the course of my career and personal life, I have conversed with five women who were victims of sexual assault, to varying degrees. Their coping ranged from guilt to rage to silence. One was groped in an elevator by a co-worker; two were attacked in their own homes, one was raped in a parking garage.
And in a couple of cases, I was the only person the woman had talked to. I wish had known more how to help, beyond just lending an ear. So I’m glad women are speaking out now.