Sunday, September 27, 2015

Things People Say

Sometimes it is not easy to maintain a non-judgmental attitude. Sometimes one must keep the jaw from dropping after hearing utter nonsense from an adult a human being. No civilized response is available. Back in olden days one could snort or fiercely  flutter one's fan, or otherwise indicate displeasure. Alas, those days have passed. There is much uncivil behavior now, of course, masses of it, but I am trying to avoid that sort of thing. It is hard. One must stifle oneself.
The first dumb comment came from a very nice woman in my exercise class. This came in the dressing room. I was in one of the booths, trying to peel my wet suit off.  She was discussing her prayer group from her church. They meet once week and pray like bastards for all sorts of worthy causes and people and all. Sometimes they invite others to attend, individuals or social groups. Then she said, "We invited  the Girl Scout troop, but then we thought about that new law, and had to uninvited them." The new law? Not exactly a law, but the recent Supreme Court decision concerning gay marriage. And perhaps the fact that the  scouting organizations now accept gay leaders and scouts. No one said anything to her. This nice woman is the type who wishes everyone a blessed day. Last year she asked if we minded if she  would say prayer for someone's sick relative. Well, who's going to refuse? Almost everyone bowed her head. So she did that thing that evangelicals on TV do so well, an ad lib ramble that went on quite a while. That was one thing. But refusing to have a bunch of little girls at her prayer meeting was, I am sure, not pleasing to God, if one exists.
Then a couple of weeks ago, when I went to get my hair cut, I had to wait. When I sat down a woman  couple of seats over smiled and said, " Oh, I'm so glad you're here, so I'll have someone to talk with while I wait." That was fine with me. Then she pointed to her book on the seat between us. "You've got to read this book!" I looked down and it was a book by Dr. Ben Carson, the favorite of the Tea Party intelligentsia. I smiled and said that he was not my kind of candidate, very politely. She told me what a brilliant man he was and that his wife had played violin in a symphony orchestra and also had
a beautiful singing voice. Well, we went on to chat. She had worked at the university and was pleased that her children had their education there tuition free. They had all done well and had good jobs. Her oldest son had had his own printing business. That is, she stated further, until Obama ruined it and caused him to lose it. "oh," I said, "How did that happen?" "well," she replied, " you know, all that new technology, so people could do their own printing."
Now in either of these situations I could have just said, "What the HELL are you talking  about."
But I didn't. To the salon lady, I did say that I wasn't sure that president Obama had  anything to do with computer technology, but decided that whatever convoluted reasoning had led her to that belief
would not yield to rationality.
And them I was told by another person that when that time comes, that time when only true believers will be swept up into heaven, exactly 144,000 Jews will get to join them, and that information is in the bible. I was given chapter and verse, but I just don't want to look it up. We Catholics  were
discouraged from reading the bible, lest we fall victim to misinterpretation. For once, the Church was
right. 144',000?  Isn't that, like, 12 gross or something? And who's counting them?
As for the Girl Scout disinviter, I still like her, but not so much anymore. I am, of course, judgmental as all get-out, but I do stifle.
And if anyone reading this is offended, you're on the wrong page here.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Blue and Gold

The title does not refer to my alma mater's colors, the ones worn by the sports teams and the logo of Kent State University.  It refers to the kind of glorious weather that September is having. We'll probably pay for it in January, but one must live in the present and just enjoy these beautiful days on sunshine and blue skies.
We do need rain. We went up to Gordon Square a couple of weeks ago to see "Nashville," Robert Altman's grim tribute to the Bicentennial of the U.S of A., a cheery, music filled film that ends in bloodshed, featuring cameos by Jeff Goldblum, Julie Chistie and a few others who apparently wandered onto the set. Fine movie, viewed in a great Art Deco theater on the near west side of Cleveland which is being restored. We met DCB, our NPR  friend who knows Cleveland well.
Thanks to him, we ended up at a very fine restaurant housed in a former bank. It was packed with the Bright young Things who are inhabiting the city and making things happen.  I had a braised  Romaine salad. Interesting. Anyway, I bring this up because it rained buckets, cascades, drenches. The drive back to Kent was downright scary, even though I was not the one who was driving. The heavy rain was welcomed by all of us with tan lawns.
Unfortunately, this week I have not been enjoying this lovely weather. A year ago, my dentist recommended having a molar removed, since it had a deep decay spot on one root. At the time I just was not in the mood to go through that sort of thing, especially since I would need a permanent bridge, which costs more than my 1968 VW square back cost brand new. So I put it off. Nothing hurt, so wothehell, as Archie the cockroach used to I had to go back to my dentist a month or so ago on account of having taken advantage of the Monday five bucks admissions and free popcorn deal at our local theater. Old gums, even when a person flosses and brushes diligently cannot always avoid being  infiltrated by the odd hull. So I was again told to take care of that bad tooth. So I did, on
Monday last.
I would rather have gone to the five buck Monday flick, sans popcorn. However, the tooth needed to be removed. It was quite an ordeal. The endodontist is very good, highly qualified and all. It took over an hour and both he and I were exhausted by the time he dug it out. It didn't help that he kept saying it would have been a LOT  easier if I had come in last year.  I finally I said, "I am an old person and I just didn't want to do this." That seemed to work and he didn't say I should have come in last year again.
I'd rather have hip replacement surgery again than go through dental surgery. I wasn't "a little
uncomfortable." I was and still am in pain, but healing. I have been living on yogurt, applesauce and cottage cheese. No hot coffee either. I'll live. However, whenever I have to spend thousands on dentistry, I always think of the waste of money if I should be hit by a truck soon afterwards.
And I am enjoying the beautiful late September days, at least looking at it through the window, while cuddling an ice pack against my face.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Go Set This

I listened on BBC Radio to a reading of the best selling "Go Set A Watchman," supposedly written by Harper Lee. She is now in a nursing home, prohibited from speaking publicly about herself or her work. This "new" book was written before "To Kill a Mockingbird," everyone's favorite book, made into everyone's favorite movie.
I love both. The book is so reminiscent of my own childhood in Georgia, l lived at the same time as the period in the book, the thirties. When they made the movie, the houses and the street looked like the neighborhood I'd lived in. I knew what everything felt like, smelled like and sounded like. When my own children were young and saw the movie, they identified Atticus Finch with their own father, who had died so young, and they were right. John Burnell was tall and slender and wore dark-rimmed glasses. He was a gentle, kind and honest person. He also was a staunch civil rights oriented person, a sociology professor who was denied tenure at a small liberal arts college for leading a student protest against discrimination at a local skating rink, a protest which made the front page of the twin paper, thus angering the college president, a Southerner who was not happy about the burgeoning civil rights activities going on at that time. ( The college was in the North.) john continued his actions for justice here at Kent State, which also caused  some administrators to chastise him and other young professors over housing discrimination. He was far from a rabble rouser, but a quiet man who used logic and persuasive techniques. For this reason, his children, a couple of whom did not get to know him, found Atticus the  personification, or the essence of their father.  I suspect that there are many others even those who grew up with their fathers, who see Atticus Finch as a significant figure.
This leads me to "Watchman."  The first word out was the somewhat hysterical news that in this book, Atticus is a racist!  Good grief! The man who bravely defended Tom Robinson?
Well, let me tell you how I see this book. My friend Annie called it preachy, and it is. What it preaches, as Atticus and Jean Louise's uncle are preaching is the tiresome whine in the 50s by the entitled, genteel whites of the South is this: " our way of life, the rules we have lived by for generations, are not ready for the changes being forced upon us. The Negro is  not ready for what they are demanding. Surely you can see that, Jean Louise? Changes will come, but we must move slowly."
Now that's the kind of thing one heard over and over from that class of white Southern men. Lee ( or whoever wrote this thing)' does throw in a non-elite lawyer who grew up a Cracker, but he has also bought into white supremacy, and cautions Jean Louise, who has been white hot with anger after finding out that Atticus had attended a White Citizen's Council meeting, which he explains he did to know what people's concerns were. Atticus also claims that the Klan started out as some kind of civic organization. Really?!!  Where'd that come from?  These three men all carefully explain to the former Scout that they are just going to make sure that everyone is "ready."
It doesn't seem to occur to them there are Southerners who have been waiting for over a hundred years or more for full citizenship of a country they've helped to build, have worked in servitude, have helped to shape the culture of the South. No, the white folks are just not ready. At the time this attitude infuriated many of us, and now here comes this book which the publishers wisely rejected, with the advice to Lee that she focus on the earlier story of Atticus and the children and his heroic action in a small Alabama town in the 30s. It's a good thing they did, or Harper Lee would have been blasted as an apologist for segregation and racial inequality and we would not have the magic of "To Kil a Mockingbird."
So was Atticus a racist? You bet, but not the kind you identify with lynching and burning Black churches. Even worse, he and his kind were the very ones who could have changed things much earlier, but didn't, and then decried the efforts that rose from the Black activists.
Sorry, Harper Lee.