Making Excuses

Somewhere, early in my childhood, I was (educated?) in the futility of making excuses.

Reasons are different from excuses.

The reason I failed to complete the task on time may have a few legitimate situation beyond my control.

Long ago, I gave up the excuses : I wasn’t given enough time – I knew I waited until the last minute to start. It was too hard – when I knew I hadn’t asked for help as soon as I was in over my head. Nobody told me – that was met with an eye roll.

The reason the children died in (pick a school shooting – there are some many) was because a segment of our citizenry is convinced that personal gun ownership is paramount. It is not enough for a hand gun for personal protection plus a hunting rifle. The idea that anybody should question anybody about whether or not an individual should be able to buy a gun is enough to make their head explode. No “they” must be able to own as many as they want, any style they want, they even feel it is necessary to holster it and bring it to Walmart.

Is that really about protection or just a political statement.

Excuses are:

  • not the guns fault – guns don’t kill, people do (my step-daughter-in-law)
  • we need armed guards at the doors – like the ones who did not enter for 45 minutes waiting for help
  • we need to lock all the doors
  • it’s those video games – but the company that makes video games says it ain’t
  • it’s those terrible parents – who are mostly poor, under educated and have little access to assistance because they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps – check the records
  • we need them to kill wild pigs – yeah, that’s a thing – on the record – look it up
  • it’s because the shooter is mentally ill – probably – do the people who fight hard to keep guns also fight hard to improve the mental healthcare system? errr. nope. Quite the opposite.

There is only one solution to random, ridiculous, terrible, awful, mass shooting is to finally say that the United States of America has a gun problem.

Too many. Too easy to get. No training. No evaluation. No justification. Any nitwit can get as many as he or she wants, no questions asked.

And the very last people to be permitted to give the counter argument are the ones profiting from the current situation – conflict of interest – big time.

The poisoned Tylenol killed seven people. I haven’t been able to open a bottle without some kind of tool since.

One guy tried to put a bomb in his shoe. I’m still taking my shoes off in airports.

Practically every bag in America has a label suggesting you not put it over your head.

Commercials tell us not to take a drug if we are allergic to it.

But a machine whose design is only to kill, sure have all you want. People having “fun” at the firing range are shooting at human silhouettes.

When I was a child, I squirted my Great Aunt Nennie with a water pistol. She walked up to me with a look that could melt granite and said, “Don’t you ever point a gun at me or anyone else.”

Yeah… it was at least 60 years ago. Remember like it was yesterday.

Children play with building blocks to understand construction and gravity and design.

Children play with dolls to model parenthood.

Children draw and write and color to improve dexterity and communication and language and art.

Why do children play with guns?

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Everyone Should Listen to NPR

My programmed satellite radio buttons are 60s, 70s, Sinatra, Cafe’, and NPR.

I usually start with NPR. I tend to switch off when the talk is littered with “ya know” or the accent is too heavy for me to follow.

A common phrase for NPR listeners “a driveway moment”. It means you are listening to a program while driving and when you arrive at your destination you stay in the car to listen until the end.

That seldom happens when listening to music.

The story this week that blew me away was about abortion. Not so much the pros and cons of who gets to decide, when it’s appropriate, or the whole political/medical argument.

The part that surprised me; educated me is how the word is used in the medical community.

A woman told the story of moving to another city and requesting a copy of her medical history. Included in the documentation was the notation: multiple abortions.

The woman was incensed because she had never had an abortion. She had suffered six miscarriages during her time with her gynecologist. She was so upset that she called the doctor’s office to find out why her records would say this.

It turns out that within the medical community the official language for any pregnancy that ends without a living child is documented as an abortion.

The story went on to describe scenarios of miscarriages that occur without the woman knowing she is pregnant, some that are incomplete and must be addressed medically. So technically, a woman who needs a D&C to avoid serious infection from an incomplete miscarriage is actually having an abortion, in the literal sense.

Take all of this information (for me education) in the context of the political speeches declaring an end to all abortions — no way, no how.

It is not possible. Any law with this as a goal can not be enforced or if it was, would incarcerate any woman who lost a pregnancy for any reason.

I am not a fan of abortion as habitual birth control. I would even go so far as to say I’d be okay with requiring sterilization after coming in for the third… hard to do, but I think you get my point.

But no child should have to carry a pregnancy to term, no victim of sexual assault, no woman who sees a baby as an impossible task.

Those who stand on the soap box demanding an end to all abortion have no idea what they are talking about. I want the loudest to spend a week in a major city hospital to see the kinds of things that can go wrong with a pregnancy; to see the misery of loss; the see the fear of continuing; to fully understand what so many women face.

As for “Justice Amy”, send her too. Mothers of perfect children need to be reminded how lucky they are.

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Beirut, the movie. An Omen?

I watched the film Beirut last night. The story begins in 1972. There is tension but the diplomats are cordial. The party is light and amusing… until it isn’t.

The whole time I am watching I am thinking this is the USA today. We are attending events; we are tolerant, but somewhere, just outside, not far from the evening glow and clinking of cocktails, anger is brewing.

Those snarling faces we saw on January 6th are not done.

Those snarling face we saw during the George Floyd riots are not appeased.

There are people with a whole lot of money who are delighted by this conflict and want very badly to undo much of the progress that began with Lincoln, addressed by FDR and was expanded by LBJ. I’m certain of this desire for conflict but have yet to understand why. More money? More power? Fear of losing the white majority?

There are people gathering arms and munitions listening to the poison invented daily by other people who would never pick up a gun or march in the streets. The liars want something else. Something the fighters will never see.

In the movie, a mere ten years later, Beirut is in ruins. The streets are in chaos and the liars are still manipulating the public.

I believe the next war in the USA is coming. It will start much like January 6th but somebody will bring the wrong weapon and then all hell will break loose.

All the people whining about toilet paper, the price of gas, wearing a mask will suddenly be dealing with a nightmare like the one in Ukraine. The bombs won’t be everywhere but the economic impact and the real threat to the food supply would be inevitable.

The loud, rich people will flee to safe places as they always have. The rest will take up arms or huddle hungry and scared hoping they are not the next.

Our petty arguments. Our refusal to let others live the life they choose that causes others no harm is contributing to tension that could easily snap.

This movie frightened me the way the 1966 film Fahrenheit 451 frightened me. For those who never saw it or read the book (irony) it depicted a time when all books were banned and humans would be in a room interacting with a television. Not possible? One of the most popular Christmas gifts in 2021 was virtual reality goggles.

Cory Booker’s speech gives me some hope. He understands what our country is supposed to be. We are not free until all of us are free. We are not equal until we stop imposing on those who already have less and are trying their best to become more.

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Left / Right / Center

For all the ballyhoo about religion in school, the thing that has really been lost in the last several decades is teaching The United States of America in school; what it is, how it works, why every citizen must be a part.

If, we the people, understand that; believe that; participate in that; then how you worship, who you love, choices you make about your personal life will matter to no one but you and your ilk. We are supposed to be different. We are supposed to be tolerant.

There was a Senator during the Supreme Court nominee hearing today with so much stress in his voice; I was left with the impression that allowing same sex marriages has diminished his own “traditional union”. I am at a loss to know why.

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Google Says: Autoimmune disease happens when the body’s natural defense system can’t tell the difference between your own cells and foreign cells, causing the body to mistakenly attack normal cells. There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases that affect a wide range of body parts.

First of all, it’s the wrong word. Autoimmune sounds like; oh good! I’m automatically immune to all sorts of stuff. The exact opposite of what’s going on in my body.

So annoying.

And this stuff is sneaky.

It started with dry skin.

Then my head itched. The doctor asked me “when did that start?” ….shrug, like forever?

Then my head really started to itch. All of my clothes had snow-capped shoulders. There was a raw patch behind my right ear about the size of a chicken egg. Time for the dermatologist.

So, about my hair. I have a lot of it. Not long, but a tight hairs-per-square-inch kind of scalp. Hairdressers attack me with thinning shears to get the mop to behave.

To see what’s going on, dermatologists push my hair around like a grooming baboon.

Diagnosis? Psoriasis Most of the treatments are ointments. Oddly, I am not in favor of applying white goo to my hair.

They tried lasers and steroids and shampoos. The snowstorm persisted. I suggested cutting out the bad patch killing two birds.. I get rid of the sore spot and get a neck lift in the bargain. It didn’t sell.

Then a weird thing happened. My right pinkie’s middle joint blew up to twice its normal size and turned purple. And then my entire left hand decided that picking up a small glass of water was too much to handle.

What is going on?

Since these are joints, I’m off to the orthopedic guy. He takes one look at me and sends me to a Rheumatologist. Whaaaat?

The medical community declared I have Psoriatic Arthritis. And then the rheumatologist had the nerve to tell me that this happens a lot to people with psoriasis.

I spent three years with that array of dermatologists. None of them warned me about this. If they had, it might not have gotten so far out of hand.

I have said this to my most recent rheumatologist, my most recent dermatologist, my orthopedic guy who sent to me the first rheumatologist. Everyone of them met this observation with a shrug.

Modern medicine is getting too specialized.

By the time I got to a PsA specialist, I could not open a jar, a bag of cereal, hold a drinking vessel of any kind in one hand, my feet hurt, my ankles ached constantly, I was tired, no golf, slept too much. I was a wreck.

Now drug therapies begin. The collection of drugs that are being thrown at PsA begin with pills. Everybody knows they hardly ever work (the doctor told me so), but the “protocols” say they have to be tried first.

I took the pills. They didn’t work.

Next comes the injections. There is an array to choose from. Again, “protocols” say try them in this order.

Doc writes an Rx for the first one and tells me the monthly fee is $1,300 a month. Gasp! Then the nurse says to fill out this form and attach you latest 1040 to prove you can’t afford it. I pass that test with flying colors.

This drug kind of works. My scalp is better but the rest of me? Not so good.

Doc say, double the dose.

Can’t really remember why that was a bad idea, just remember my body didn’t like that plan at all.

By now I have had an impromptu conversation with a couple who are aware that my physical state has declined in the past year. I related the story of now being on my second rheumatologist and not happy. Turns out the guy goes to a rheumatologist he really likes and trusts. I could use a doctor like that so I make an appointment.

During my first appointment, “I think this guy knows what he is talking about”. He listened; he did a bunch of blood work; he ordered x-rays. All of this was new. Then he took me off the drug and said we are going to wait five weeks before trying something new.

That meant five more weeks of feeling like crap, but I liked this doctor, let’s do it.

New drug. Monthly fee $2,400 a month. Fill out the forms. American medicine is ridiculous. I am getting this over-priced stuff for free just by proving I don’t make one hundred grand a year.

The good news is the new drug is beginning to show promise. I’m ten doses in. The surprising thing is my mind is clearer. I hadn’t realized how my thinking had been affected by this disease.

Scalp is clear, finger back to normal. Still weakness in my legs but after some discussion with my ortho guy, have decided it’s more about having been sitting too long than the arthritis. I’m challenging my knees more and I think he’s right.

The journey continues. The protocol for my current drug was to take two shots every Monday for eight weeks. The next phase is just one shot per month. Hard to imagine that’s going to work, but then again my current doc says that’s the plan and he’s been right so far.

I’m trying to imagine a person with less or no access to the internet; a person not raised by my mother who taught me that I am in charge of my health and not all doctors are good doctors; imagining a person who can’t navigate the dozens of calls I had to make to providers to get these drugs sent to me… it is a ball of confusion.

American medicine needs to be taken off the “for profit” model. Doctors are not gods, they’re just mechanics trained to work with flesh instead of wires, pipes, and wood. Pharmaceuticals are no more magical than cooking or glaze formula. Sure it takes a lot of research, but the idea that they have to charge wacky fees on old drugs to pay for new drugs is a myth perpetrated by its own industry.

I’m thankful for my Cosentyx. I have no idea what is in it, but my mechanic is not in the business of making me feel worse, so I take it.

I wonder how many “anti-vaxers” are ingesting all kinds of other mystery stuff without question. Maybe we can start a rumor that french fries cause aberrant sexual behavior and let it slip to Fox News. The Idaho economy would collapse.

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Life Lesson

To all the people lucky enough to have aged parents still living in their homes, please be ever mindful of their living conditions.

Just because the parlor or living room is relatively tidy and they say all is well, look beyond.

Poke your nose where it doesn’t belong.

Look in the bathroom.

Check their bedroom.

Let them yell at you, because they might.

If they struggle getting out of a chair, does the toilet have a grab bar?

Can you judge them safe in a tub if there is no shower?

Does the shower have a grab bar?

Aging in place is a wonderful concept. Wonderful until disaster befalls someone.

I spent last week helping to find the important things in a home that had fallen apart even as the residents said all is well.

Dust so thick on dressers that it was caked on. Dust an inch thick in all corners. Clothes piled everywhere because, it was too hard to hang them up? Because they were so depressed they didn’t care?

Kitchen cabinets filled with out of date food. Food close to rotting in the refrigerator. Multiples of over-the-counter pills probably ordered again and again from the grocery delivery service because they couldn’t find the ones they had stuffed into cabinets.

Pills on the floor, hundreds of them. Dropped? Refused to take?

Not that long ago, this couple was fully functional. Driving a car (no more), visiting friends (now never leave the house).

Things can collapse so quickly if you’re not looking, if you’re not SEEING.

Yes, love and respect your parents. But not to the detriment of their safety and well-being.

If you are the one getting on in years, letting a few chores slip, getting a little embarrassed about the condition of your home, swallow your pride. Ask for help. Let the help in.

This sad couple suddenly finds themselves in assisted living, never to return to their home — such as it is.

No chance to pick through their personal belongings to choose what brings them joy for their new home. They are left with their children’s best guess at what they might like.

Do you have boxes of stuff? Give it to somebody who needs it.

Is your closet jammed with clothes you don’t wear — give it to somebody who needs it.

Four sets of dishes? Give it to your children now. You’re not using them and never will again.

None of us lives forever. Few of us know our expiration date.

But it is safe to say that if you have crossed over the 70 mark, you are on the downhill. Hopefully well and still have a lot of years ahead, but it’s time to pare down the pile.

It’s time to be clear-eyed about what you can handle and what you can’t.

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Critical Race Theory

It’s a terrible name.

It sounds like an argument and I don’t think that’s the goal.

White Americans who believe people of color, people of a non-Christian faith or speak with a foreign accent live lives exactly the same as white folk suffer a kind of…. blindness.

I have lived my entire life in a very white world.

Never been hungry… hence the thighs.

Seldom lonely.

Never spent a night shivering in the cold, well except for my mother’s third floor attic, but I was compensated by being buried in a mountain of her lovely quilts.

I have seen West Philadelphia. Locked the car doors as I drove through.

I have passed the run-down shacks hiding behind the Spanish moss as we toddled off to Jekyll Island for a week of seafood and golf. Many of the good folk living in these shacks probably hopped a van to come clean our room or cook that seafood or wash the dishes.

They were seldom seen.

I know little about their lives. But I know, for sure, they struggle far more than I ever will and based on the little that I have seen, they are by and large kind, generous, and peaceful people just trying to get by and take care of their own.

Why would I NOT want to learn how their circumstances came to be?

Knowing my family history is fundament to my foundation.

I watched the story of Jesse Owens last night. His strength of character and personal power blew through almost every obstacle; almost.

I know myself well enough to know that if my childhood had been riddled with slights and hatred and hunger and fear, I would have folded into myself.

My successes came from a childhood filled with messages spoken and shown that I was capable of more. That more was not guaranteed but it was attainable if I put in the effort. I got a lot and didn’t have to try all that hard.

There are many stories running through the media today. Some I knew; the horrible treatment of Native Americans, including the children. The treatment of the Japanese, the Chinese, the Irish, the Italians. The slave trade, much of the Civil Rights Movement.

I did not know about Tulsa. I did not know the extent of the brutality of the KKK. I did not know about red-lining.

I did not fully comprehend the economic reality of limiting resources dating back to the earliest times of the US economy.

I have regularly patted myself on the back for my ability to save money beginning at age 6 when Daddy helped me open my first passbook savings account.

I did not know there were children who had to give all they got to the family to keep food on the table. That was not my childhood responsibility. My burden was making my bed, putting away my clothes, do the dishes on my night, and the worst; go to bed on time.

When I left home to stand on my own two feet (the true measure of adulthood in my family) I had thousands of dollars in my bank account, a full time job with health insurance, a car, money for clothes, and paid all my bills on time; including a credit card kept for convenience not loans.

I realize now that was not just “me”. That was parents who could take care of their family without my financial support because their parents could take care of their families because the parents before them and so on… all the way back to the brave or crazy people who got on a rickety boat in England and sailed to Penns Landing to start a new life which they built on land stolen from the unsuspecting Lenape Indians.

How many fully-functioning humans are birthed into slums or broken neighborhoods or towns with collapsed economies? For want of a family tree stockpiling assets, they have nothing to start with and not much to build on except for strong mind and body waiting to be nourished. The Jesse Owens of the world are rare. We cannot, should not expect every child to rise up from these circumstances without help.

Why would we not want to provide a quality education that included arts and music and literature and critical thinking. What wonders could come from nurturing these minds?

I know why “they” didn’t want it hundreds of years ago. The elites of the day enjoyed their eliteness and knew the best way to hang on to it was to keep the “others” ill-informed. For this very reason, my brave/crazy ancestors left England to be free of that oppression.

How curious that our citizens most likely to coil from CRT declare most loudly their patriotism. Convinced that the only way to hold on to the One True America is to deny the sad fact that too many are just like the elites of Old England their ancestors fought to expel from our new world.

I feel the privilege and luck for having been born a citizen of the United States of America. I attended public schools drumming the beat of 1492, Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, Thanksgiving with the friendly Indians, the Red Menace. Most of these were highly sterilized stories.

My personal education revealed Columbus’ syphilis, the Indians weren’t really all that friendly, America’s war machine had more to do with economy than ethics, Nixon was great — Nixon was not great, it is possible to be kind to a soldier sent to a ridiculous war.

We are better than we used to be. And we can be better still. To do that, we need to know, acknowledge, and face the failures of the past and how those failures created the circumstances of today. It’s hard allow room to improve without empathy.

We don’t have to give everybody cash. If we invest in real education in every neighborhood, regardless of the tax base and pay the teachers what they are worth, I believe that we would have a whole new United States of America in about 25 years. Dare I say, America could be great again.

I wish our citizens would soften on the “I got mine. Go get your own.” view in the USA. Think hard about our foundations; how each of us really started out and how much was given; I don’t mean money.

Most of my teachers were women. Many were brilliant. During the earliest years of American education, the only jobs these women could get (unless they were the Jesse Owens of their day) were secretary, teacher, or nurse. This changed radically in the late 70s.

My quality teachers were under paid, but they had no alternative. Supply and demand is at the core of our economy. The day women moved up in the workplace was the day we had to pay more for education.

We haven’t. We are paying a different price.

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That Inner Voice

Many comments, M A N Y comments come through social media.

Some flow by… not interesting, inane, seen it before, too outrageous to consider.

Others …. cause me to think, change my mind, expand my thinking

Few … piss me off; mostly anything rooted in the Trump Experience

Then there are the ones that hang around in my head. I’m going to say it’s because I am more surprised by the source than the content.

Last night I was rolling through the Facebook pages of Clay Buddies. A friendly world (as audited by its keepers) filled with the delights and tragedies of working with clay.

A member shared a familiar story of failing miserably at a skill she normally does with ease. If you have never tried it, convincing a three pound gob of wet clay to transition into a vase is not something that comes naturally. It takes practice and harmony between you, the wheel, and the clay.

I have days when I can perform this task with bewildering ease.

The common days require focus and yet, I will have a failure or two.

Then there is the rare day that I can not do it at all. The first time was confusing, but it happened in a room of other relative novices. It was also helpful that the instructor assured me that it happens all the time and the only solution is to stop trying today. Try again another day.

We all have a center of gravity; a relationship with the universe. We have wobbly days and solid days. It’s good to know what kind of day you are having.

So, back to the woman sharing her frustration with her wobbly day. Another potter said, “Pottery is golf for girls (sorry for the sexist — but true — observation). It takes tons of time, $, is way harder than it looks, and somedays it just does not happen.”

Her profile picture indicates that she is clearly a women under the age of 40. How is it possible that a woman raised in the years from 1980 until today could invoke the term “for girls” in any context?

It’s something my long dead grandmother might have said.

I am inappropriately irritated by her myopia.

This Facebook page is clear that no political posts will be tolerated, but her perspective has politics at it’s core.

When will we as a culture stop pigeon-holing gender?

I could not be silent. My counter was “I am a potter. I am a golfer. I love both. Neither are “for girls””.

Her follow up remark confirmed my suspicion. She did not know what she said or why it is sad that she said it. “Most of the people I know who play golf are men.” Not the point, missy.

My tolerance well has been over drawn of late.

There was the visit with an old friend in the spring We had 10 years of closeness. An important relationship. It began to fracture with the arrival of the 2016 election.

We are staunchly on opposite sides of the fence.

It is damned difficult to get through a two hour visit without some segment of world events leaking in. I managed until she said, “This whole mask thing is ridiculous.”

Before the editor kicked in I said, “Tell that to the one million dead.”

Subject changed. Briefly.

Then she told me her doctor said that “wearing masks will cause a huge spike is respiratory problems. We are not meant to wear masks.”

I decided not to forward the medical journal article to the contrary or mention that medical personnel have been wearing masks for years.

Much like the potter with the limited world view, my friend will never take the time to challenge her acquired set of “facts”.

Times like these, my inner voice reminds me that I might also be guilty of standing steadfast with my own set of “facts”.

This in turn, reminds me that the whole purpose of disinformation is to achieve the critical mass of making all citizens question what is true.

Today’s take away…. the source material for “masks are bad” can be found at InfoWars and Fox News. The source material for “masks are good” can be found in medical journals and Dr. Fauci.

My inner voice is keeping me safe, but I’ll keep checking the sources.

The above was mostly written three months ago. I have had another encounter.

Another important friend. We go back nearly 30 years now. He came through town and we shared a breakfast and a round of golf.

These are the low lights. During breakfast he told me he bought a gun. Early in the round of golf he said, “I think the whole mask thing was a waste of time.” At the turn, he lit a cigarette.

I don’t know how to maintain a relationship with someone so far away from me on fundamentals.

Were these two friends that far away from me before 2016? Who changed? What changed?

Do I write to them and say, I miss you but I don’t know how to have a conversation with you without having an argument. Our past relationship was not about small talk.

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I am bewildered that anybody still believes that Donald Trump is or ever was a great business man.

He is the child of great fortune.

He was given piles of money by his father while he was alive.

He inherited another pile when his father died.

He has filed for bankruptcy multiple times.

It is well documented that he swindled large numbers of contractors.

These are not opinions. This is not fake news.

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Me too?

If you have seen the TV series “Mad Men” you would have some idea of my work life in 1970.

When not yet 20, working in Philadelphia, my daily commutes through the downtown streets were filled with hooting construction workers. My office life was either being over-looked for advancement because that guy had a wife and kids to support or being looked over by too many men. It was regular leering and even man-handling.

I didn’t think myself naïve, but I was. My experience with sexual advances were from the man/boys my age. I could accept or reject these without any cause for concern or wonder about motive.

But when the president invited me to his office under the pretense of delivering a monthly report normally sent by circulating office envelopes, I had no experience for imagining an ulterior motive… at least not the first time.

My ego jumped to the “he must think I’m an important asset to the company and this is my chance to show how efficient I can be”.

The reality.

His secretary granted me permission to enter his giant corner office outfitted in walnut and leather. He met me at the door and quietly closed the door as I entered. My antenna buzzed, but I was still hopeful.

He offered me a chair as he leaned on his desk asking me harmless questions about the day and myself. Then the awkward pause.

I rose to excuse myself and he followed me to the door where he placed his hand firmly to keep me from opening it and with his other arm wrapped me up and hauled me in for a kiss.

This, my friends, is sexual harassment. Full stop. Had I not been me, the next thing to happen would be unwanted sex; yes rape. And even if I had raised holy hell about it, he would have gotten away with it. No question.

And, what pray tell, was the secretary guarding the door thinking at the time?

We’ve come a long way, baby.

In some ways, maybe too far.

Anytime there is an encounter between two people of an intimate nature, I believe both have a responsibility to choose how that encounter progresses. The glaring exception to this rule is when the two parties are mismatched in maturity or economic status.

These thoughts came to mind while I was watching a story unfold on the TV series “Last Tango in Halifax”. The scene was two characters whose names I’ve forgotten; a lesbian head of school (Joan) and a teacher (Mary) whom Joan has been given the plum assignment to interview a famous children’s author in front the whole school. Mary was chosen for the task because it is widely known that she is a super-fan and eminently qualified. The second reason was that the author now lives with Joan’s ex-husband.

Joan was married for many years and has two teenage children with her ex who is still sniffing about. She knew she was a lesbian before marriage, but “in those days” one just carried on.

More back story, Joan had married Lilian two years prior and Lilian conceived a child via an old friend. The day of Joan and Lilian’s wedding, Lilian while eight months pregnant died in an accident. The child survived.

Back to the story of Joan and Mary. Joan invited Mary to her home to discuss the details of the interview. Joan thinks she picked up “gaydar” and is anticipating an evening that might turn into something.

Mary arrives with flowers in hand and the two of them have a delightful evening that moves into the living room for more wine and conversation. There is much discussion about Joan’s unusual relationship with the author and her ex. Quantities of laughing are involved.

Mary becomes lubricated enough to question why Joan is the mother of a Black child. Joan does not hesitate to show Mary a picture from her wedding day and tell the story briefly.

Mary hackles rise and accuses Joan of sexual misconduct. Mary declares that she was invited under false pretenses and will not be doing the interview. She leaves in a huff.

The thing is; Joan’s invitation was primarily for the purpose of giving Mary the backstory on the author and to help organize the interview. Yes, Joan also thinks Mary is gay.

During the pleasant evening Joan made no advances, sat too near, touched Mary in anyway other than a normal hug at the door to say hello and welcome.

No words on Joan’s part could assure Mary that she was not a predator… mostly because Joan really thought (going in) that Mary was a kindred spirit and began to question her own role in the evening and if she was in fact, a predator. She is not.

I believe that Joan did nothing wrong. Mary reaction was over the top. A better response was “oh, I didn’t know you were gay”. Joan would have modified her thinking and the relationship would have remained in tact.

It left me wondering about many of the accusations currently flying through the media. People who work together often “test the waters”. Some people are more inclined to touch a shoulder or hover more closely. It doesn’t take much to modify the behavior of another who is getting too close for your comfort when the gesture is innocent.

Hourly workers who can be easily replaced are the most vulnerable. Even if these workers know how to push back, they risk losing their job. Most NEED their job.

However, in the case of a public official, it’s fair to say that the people working in close proximity these officials are highly employable. If you can put “personal assistant to a senator or mayor of a large city” on your resume, you are going to get the next interview.

So if that elected official is behaving inappropriately, just say so. The official has as much, if not more, to lose when you stand your ground.

Running to the papers two years after the fact smells fishy to me. Sitting before a Senate hearing 30 years after the fact does not…. those were very different days. The Me Too movement put a lot the crass behavior out of style… and that’s a good thing.

Before closing out this highly edited piece; I’ve been poking at this for days…

I am reminded that I continue to have the benefit of being me. I’m certain it colors the opinions expressed here. The root cause of the daily re-visit to this post is because I have no clarity in why I can tell the world to go away or please stay without saying a word.

An example is this experience from two years ago.

The pottery studio where I have gone for several years to “potter about” has gone through a series of studio managers. Josh was the latest. I was not impressed. His own work was uninspiring, his teaching skills were unimpressive, and he made no effort to keep the studio clean. Pottery dust is highly toxic.

The next semester came around and Josh was gone. The new studio manager (delightful) was not forthcoming about his reason for departure. I’m a nosey bugger so I kept niggling the new gal for why Josh left. She eventually caved and told me had been making numerous sexual advances to the other students.

Josh is around 30 years old. The average age of the women in these classes is closer to 60. It turns out he was hitting on many and had been pursuing one so aggressively that she finally reported him to the college.

At no time did Josh take a pass at me.

In all confidence I can say it wasn’t because he didn’t want to “hit that”. It was because he is a sexual predator and he knew without even trying that he would get no where with me.

I take…. pride in that truth even though I don’t understand why it is true.

I am left with this.

It’s unsettling to know we are more animal than we want to admit. Anyone receiving a report of inappropriate behavior must begin by assuming it is true. Further, there is no point in starting an investigation by asking the accused. Lies will ensue. The peers of the accuser will get you to the truth.

There will always be victims. There will always be villains. We are animals.

The best we can do is listen to the victims when they find their voice.

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