The resident race-baiter at the Lexington Herald-Leader is Merlene Davis, who also writes columns concerning other things, a favorite target being WASPMs (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant men). In her column of 29 November, she attempted to ridicule Governor Fletcher, a WASPM (also getting in a racial lick), but in the process did herself no favors. Her column is in both print and online. Excerpts from it are included below in black type, with a few comments in red type.
Had I known, had I not been surprised to be looking eye to eye with our governor, I'm sure I could have come up with better things to say than I did. Well, at least you didn't stare at his navel...or yours, which is probably what you'd been doing for an hour or so. Maybe if you'd stared at his ear or his right hand you could have thought of better things to say.
I heard someone introducing himself to one of my bosses, who sits behind me. I assumed it was another of those faceless corporate people who fly in now and again and come to the newsroom to make the little people feel valued. You got it backwards...too much navel-staring maybe? The corporate folk are not faceless...they pay your salary and you should feel them to be valued. Unfortunately, you're among those they consider faceless, but they would never look you eye to eye and say that. As long as you consider yourself among the "little people," it won't matter what they think.
So, after he chatted with my boss, he walked over to me as I was working on my computer. I doubt that he had ever seen anyone working on a computer since most people are on a chair when they work, using a computer. Seeing someone sitting atop a computer might have unnerved him a bit...but to each her own. It's hard to imagine how anyone can type in that position, but with the proper twists it certainly seems possible, if not exactly probable. Maybe you weren't on the keyboard, though, just reclining on the PC itself.
OK, I thought. I'll be a team player and turn around to say hello to this corporate person just to help him move along. Was he in a wheelchair and, if so, how could your saying "hello" help him move along? If the wheelchair sported a sail, perhaps the hot air emanating from your place on the computer could have propelled him clear out to Midland.
"Hello," the man said. Golly gee!!! That IS a surprise. People rarely ever say such an unusual word!
Still looking at my computer, I returned the greeting. Then I turned around and looked directly into the face of Fletcher. Hey...that's no small achievement. Saying "hello" from your spot on the computer was a thoughtful gesture. Shazzam!! I bet you were surprised to find that a faceless nabob actually had a face, after all, but then, of course, he was not a faceless corporate person who pays your salary.
Startled, I repeated the greeting, trying to make it more sincere that time. Okay - HELLO!!!!!!!!!! Did you do the "Dean Scream," perhaps, and yell "On to Nebraska" and "Keep the home fires burning" and "Beat Tennessee?!!!"
"How are you doing?" Fletcher asked. What'd you expect him to say as he looked at someone on a computer? A lot of folk would like to know the secret to working on a computer. Most folk work AT a computer, not on it.
"Well," I said. "People like me about as much as they like you." Did you mean they adore you or hate you...or were you sorta playing up to the guv, maybe with an eye on a merit job? After all, poor K-R is going in the tank and...well...people seen working on computers might just be considered dispensable, especially if a fuse gets blown in the News Room account computer overheating from supporting excessive weight.
I gasped internally. This sounds serious. Was it sorta like a herniated burp? Did it hurt? Is such a gasp covered by the health insurance? Where had that come from? The guv is also a doctor, so why didn't you just ask him? He might have prescribed on the spot, thus saving an office call to a gasp-internist. Why would something like that slip from my lips to Fletcher's ears? Oh, surely you didn't. Do you mean like when Bush 41...well...unloaded in the Japanese prime Minister's lap, except to the ear instead of...EGAD?! Surprises are awful.
It was then I noticed the plainclothes man standing very close to me and the governor. Kinda cozy, huh? What did you suppose he was up to? Did you ring for security? He was black with a white curlicue thing dangling from his ear. Uh-oh!!! In other words, he was an "Uncle Tom." The very idea that a black man would wear a (gasp, but not internal) WHITE curlicue on his ear...oh dear!
I thought to myself it would have been less noticeable had the wire been a darker color, but it was no time to give fashion tips. Spoken like a tried and true racist!!! I myself have been aghast at (gasp, but not internal) seeing white men appearing on TV with BLACK curlicues dangling from their ears...downright unpatriotic...or something.
"Well, I'm doing pretty well," the governor said. Or maybe he said, "Things are going pretty well for me." I can't remember. But you remember that curlicue, and that's all that matters in a tense situation like this.
I do remember thinking he hadn't been listening to talk radio, watching TV or reading the newspaper if he thought that were true. What he meant was simply that he was not suffering that day from internal gasping, after noticing your own discomfort.
Regardless, the governor took a step away, and I turned back to my computer, hoping his bodyguard would move with him. Wow! Most people turn back to their monitor screen...but, to each her own. If you'd rather stare at your computer...so be it and amen! What would have happened if the bodyguard had stayed....another WOW?
I wish I could tell you exactly what I said, but I know, without a doubt, that if I did, my son would shoot me in my sleep with one of those wooden rifles with which they practice marching. In other words, you told off this former fighter pilot, representative, physician, congressman! Did that make you feel better? Incidentally, it's hard to shoot a wooden rifle, even at someone who's asleep.
Just know that I embarrassed myself, my son, the governor and especially my nearest co-workers, who later reminded me that Fletcher is a pilot. Yeah...you told him off. Served him right, huh? Why not put in print just exactly what you told him? Can you dish it out, as in this screed, but not take it when some folk call your hand?
After that, Fletcher moved on for real. What's the difference between moving on and moving on for real?
"Pardon me, Mr. Fletcher," I could say. Real cute!
That seems to have worked for a few people in his administration. Those folk had something at stake and were mostly the victims of political scheming, as every knowledgeable person knows, but folk like you bear no responsibility for what they say or do. So...try working AT the computer and you may find it ever so much more comfortable. As for the internal gasping, try Bromo-Seltzer if it gets any worse.
And so it goes!Jim Clark