Another perfect — mostly, anyway — weekend. The heat abated, a little rain fell down, we went to a party, I hit the gym. The grocery-shopping went off without incident. (It usually does.) And I started, and finished, our taxes. They were easier than ever, and unless I screwed up something completely, we’re getting a small refund. Weak with relief, we immediately celebrated by going out to dinner at Cliff Bell’s. Red meat! Bottle of wine! Two fingers of Knob Creek over ice for my gentleman friend! The director of Kate’s jazz program at the DSO was playing with his band, and they were very fine. Who could ask for more?
I am a child of children of the Depression, however. When a few days go well, I automatically brace for twice that many to go the other way. And when they go the other way, I rarely think things will be better soon. This is what the last decade in the newspaper business taught me: Things can always get worse, and likely will.
Still, a good weekend. How many read Frank Bruni’s Sunday column? No, not the one about his gout, but the tidy little tale of the unnamed college acquaintance who recently came back in his life, reading from a script that sounds more or less exactly like the one you can hear in every tent revival, except everything is flipped around — the guy starts out as a religious prig, and gradually the scales fall from his eyes, and now he performs abortions.
The comments are piling up, and they’re what you’d expect — “deeply moving,” “amazing,” “wonderful,” etc. I didn’t read every one, but I wonder how many had a b.s. meter start wailing at the final anecdote of the column:
He shared a story about one of the loudest abortion foes he ever encountered, a woman who stood year in and year out on a ladder, so that her head would be above other protesters’ as she shouted “murderer” at him and other doctors and “whore” at every woman who walked into the clinic.
One day she was missing. “I thought, ‘I hope she’s O.K.,’ ” he recalled. He walked into an examining room to find her there. She needed an abortion and had come to him because, she explained, he was a familiar face. After the procedure, she assured him she wasn’t like all those other women: loose, unprincipled.
She told him: “I don’t have the money for a baby right now. And my relationship isn’t where it should be.”
“Nothing like life,” he responded, “to teach you a little more.”
A week later, she was back on her ladder.
Excuse the longer-than-normal quote, but I wanted to get it all in. It so happens I’ve heard this before. Over the years I’ve interviewed several abortion providers, and they’ve all — every one — spoken of this phenomenon, of the protester they all know who shows up as a patient one day, claiming her abortion is different, and her abortion is justified. I’m not calling them liars, and I’m not calling Bruni one, either; to be sure, I recall reading a NYT piece on abortion on one of the Roe vs. Wade anniversaries that quoted a couple of women in clinic waiting rooms expressing this very sentiment. I’m opposed to abortion, but this time is different.
I get it. But this particular case just doesn’t pass my personal smell test. She needs an abortion, so she goes to the clinic she stands outside, on a ladder, no less? What did she tell her fellow protesters, all of whom would have recognized her as she walked in or out? She chooses the same doctor she regularly calls a murderer? She tells him a story, trusting that he’ll keep her secret — which he’s obliged to, by law and ethics — and then gets back on her ladder to call him a murderer again? This is one too-perfect anecdote too far. Also, note this saint-in-human-form’s reaction when he sees her missing one day — not thank God that bitch isn’t here today, but I hope she’s OK.
I get suspicious when people in stories like this don’t act like people, but more like characters from Central Casting. That’s all.
I’d be interested in hearing other takes on this one.
Which might as well take us to the bloggage, which is good ‘n’ plentiful today. Sorry to dump another NYT link on you; I know they’re curtailing the monthly allotment of free reads soon, if not already. But this is a good one, a look at the now-closed Wigwam, the legendary high-school gym in Anderson, Ind., the second-largest in the state. It seated 9,000 and once upon a time, every seat was filled. But times are different now, in Indiana and everywhere, and the expense of maintaining such a facility could no longer be justified by the cost-staggered school district.
It’s a good story because it looks at all the reasons this is happening, which is more than most Hoosier journalists do; they tend to lay the blame on the 1997 decision to divide the hoops championship by enrollment, still seen in the state as the end of the magic — “Hoosiers” could never happen again!, etc. The NYT story points out that decision was a long time coming. It’s a sad story, and it’s more complicated, in every way, than you might think.
Yesterday was the 101st anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire; LGM has a briefing. I bring it up because “This American Life” replayed the retraction of the Daisey-monologue show Friday, and I heard Charles Duhigg, NYT reporter, speak the essential truth of Apple and its factory conditions in China. He said something like: We once had harsh working conditions in this country, and we decided to end them, so that no American worker should ever suffer the fate of the girls who leapt from the Triangle windows to escape the fire at their backs. We could export that, our humanity, but we haven’t, and now countries around the world are waiting for their own Triangle tragedies.
Wonkette had the best single snark on Dick Cheney’s heart transplant. It’s funny, but I’ll let you read it yourself. As for me, I wish him a thorough healing, in the best sense of the word. I’ll let you figure it out.
Finally, although I do not wish to bum you out at the beginning of the week, this really must be seen to be believed. Thanks, Zorn, for alerting us to “Obamaville.” (He’s calling this stuff “scaroin.” Fitting.)
A great week to all. Onward to Monday.