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November 04, 2006

"Oh, NYC, You Talk A Lot--Let's Have a Look at You"

Why I could care less if someone wants to dress up for Halloween as Osama Bin Laden, call flight attendants "stews", date 25 year olds or do other un-PC things.

Who's that queen standing over by the record machine?/She's looking like a model on the cover of a magazine/She's too cute to be a minute over nineteen/Meanwhile, I was thinking...

--Chuck Berry, Little Queenie

One year ago right now, people in San Diego asked me to run for an office, one which would have allowed me to live in DC again, and I didn't do it. Due to the current national political climate, I might even have had a shot. But I am not a good Democrat anymore, and maybe never was. I have not liked unions ever since the day the foreman on my shift at a summer job at the Keebler Cookie factory in Fairfax, Ohio, told me to cut down on the number of skids I was stacking with boxes of cookies because, by just doing my job diligently, I was showing up the other employees. And most Dems I know these days just hate the First Amendment, which I like a lot. That's a problem for me.

I don't get "PC", or why it's important. I lived in Washington, D.C., a bastion of high-powered women--one was my wife for a while until she evacuated--more than half my lawyer life, and count as friends trendy serial over-achievers. God, it's clear, made women much smarter and more perceptive than men. But the PC thing's not sinking in. I say "secretary", not "administrative assistant", and "girls", not "women"--as people know what I mean when I use these terms.

Moreover, I do not use the term "flight attendant", or think that the older ones, especially in business class, have a right to be rude. I don't think that a Korean, Finn, Russian or another Irish person who works for me should be able to explain that the reason he or she is an asshole or difficult and moody much of the time at work is "cultural"; i.e., something inherent in their ethnicity or tribe. ("Ok, let me get this straight, Sasha--you're an asshole at work, and this is all 'cultural' because you're from Eastern Europe, is that right?...") I think Italians, Jews and Asians handle liquor a lot better than the English, Germans or French--and the reasons are chiefly genetic. And I should be able to swear--loudly, artfully and frequently--at work about things that matter to me. If you aren't giving first-rate client service, I will swear at you (but just once). Finally, I really like girls, women, ladies, whatever we call them, of all legal ages. I like Jack Nicholson, and think he's hysterical and a great man. Parker Posey is getting too old for me. And I could watch Campbell Brown on MSNBC with the sound off for hours. Report me. Kill me.

I promise never actually to run for Congress. At least not as a 'D'. I just say/do/believe in all the wrong things.

Three years ago in Manhattan a New York City lawyer my age I know hauled his paunch and his wife, as if on a mission from the Fairfield County, Connecticut branch of the Church of the Final Thunder, over to my table at the Tribeca Grill on a Friday night. He inspected my companion--a striking and well-bred looking advertising executive who had gone to Dartmouth--as if she weren't even there and asked the question, why don't I "date" women my own age. I answered naturally and without affect: "Because I don't have to." His wife headed for the door. He smiled nervously, and left our space. Many at the Tribeca Grill heard this remark. Was I guilty of some new sort of age discrimination? Or mere tackiness and my 4th mid-life crisis? Was I "okay", legally and culturally, for saying that?

Afterwards, I consulted my childhood friend EFGB (Ernie from Glen Burnie), a partner in the DC office of a large Cleveland-based firm, married, who does employment law full-time. Ernie: "No, that's fine, you're fine, and good answer....but hey, what did she look like? And was she too young to remember the first U2 album? What was she wearing? Any piercings?" Well, we do chose our friends.

I'm sure that Devon, girl/woman/human/person and Dartmouth grad, was at least 29, well, 24, maybe. But I worried that the next morning I'd see Nina Totenberg, Anita Hill and National Public Radio camped out in the lobby in my hotel near Battery Park with press vans pulled up on the sidewalk on West Street. Maybe a feature piece in USA Today on Monday "Do You Know What Your Children Are Doing Tonight In NYC?" or "Are Ancient Rouets Stalking Lower Manhattan?" Well, nothing happened. And I am so sorry, folks--but there is simply nothing more fun than catting around at any age in lower Manhattan, or being at the Tribeca Grill, on Friday night in the Fall, and being asked and getting to answer such a question from lawyers and their horrified wives my age who weigh 200 pounds a piece.

I still don't get PC.

So please arrest me. I'll go quietly, without comment or rejoinder. I just hope it's a girl cop. And when I'm in PC jail, do send me some Chuck Berry.

Posted by JD Hull at November 4, 2006 08:41 PM


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