Greetings from the igloo we call the Northeast. Were I not relatively emotionally healthy coming into this winter, I might have been pushed over the edge by walls of snow hemming us in and making every darned mundane thing like crossing the street that much harder. I saw an elderly man fall and land on his head on an icy sidewalk a few days ago and my heart felt like it was pumping out of my chest.
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Sounds a little like I might still be on the edge, right?
With every other status update on Facebook either a complaint about the inordinate amount of white stuff we’ve had or telling the complainers to stop complaining because we live in the Northeast after all, let me share a sampling of things that have kept me in a mostly "good place" on the sanity meter so far this year.
In the raging debate over whether it was wise or even kind to take all references to the N-word out of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and replace them with the word “slave,” comedian D.L. Hughley boiled it down to its essence on Real Time with Bill Maher.
“That’s not an upgrade,” Hughley said to much laughter from the live audience. “I’d rather be a n----r than a slave. If you call me n----r I can go home. If you call me slave I’ve gotta go with you.”
Brilliant. I so enjoy when the simplest things are illuminating for some and yet keep other folks stymied and stuttering.
Which is kind of what Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck is doing by skipping the 2011 NFL Draft to stay in school and pursue his degree in architectural design. Projected by The Sporting News as the potential No. 1 pick, the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy just doesn’t give a hoot. Not about getting selected first. Not about the athlete wannabes and tunnel visionaries calling him an idiot for turning down mucho NFL bucks to study in a field they consider lacking in employment opportunities.
“Call him old school,” his father, Oliver Luck said. “He comes from a faction of people who believe you go to college to pursue your degree.”
Go figure, huh? Calm down, money mongers. It’s not like he’s written off the NFL forever. It’s not going anywhere.
Another story that is special at its heart but has as a big part of its entertainment value the ability to put the glass-half-empty set in a spin is one that has been trending on NPR.com this week. What makes that particularly notable is that most of the dozen or so stories being frequently clicked on there are current, but this one – called “A Victim Treats His Mugger Right” -- is from 2008.
Julio Diaz, a social worker in New York, got off the subway on his way to dinner and a teen-ager robbed him at knifepoint. He gave the boy his wallet and then also offered his coat to keep him warm. Diaz said: “If you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me ... hey, you’re more than welcome.”
They wound up eating in the diner together. Diaz told him he’d have to pay since he’d taken his wallet. The boy gave him the wallet back and even the knife when Diaz requested it. Aside from the meal and the kindness, Diaz gave him $20.
What I thought was indisputably a feel-good story turned out to provoke a wide variety of comments on NPR.com, from those who would have shot the mugger on the spot to one bleeding heart who thought Diaz should have given him more cash.
I so love these gauges of human nature. It’s easy to lament technology and how it has given a forum to unformed, often mean-spirited commentary from anyone with a computer. Because, of course, it has. But for me, it’s also an opportunity to quickly be reminded that my knee-jerk assumption about a given topic can be upended in a flash by someone making a surprisingly valid point.
Other assorted and sundry things that have been keeping me blessedly amused while the plows “beep, beep, beep” in reverse outside my window are Ken trying to win Barbie back via Facebook posts, much well-deserved Oscar talk around actor Colin Firth’s performance in The King’s Speech that prompted me to rent Pride and Prejudice just to see his splendid portrayal of Mr. Darcy, my stunning new coffee table book called My Passion for Design by Barbra Streisand, and some riveting playoff football.
Of course, amidst all of this amusement is the seriousness of what has been happening in our world in places like Tucson and Egypt and how that stacks up against my haughty annoyance that I can’t wear suede boots in the slush.
There’s another storm brewing as we speak. Can hardly wait to see what it brings.