Sunday, September 30, 2018

Supremely Kavagaughed




I'll take the Randy Rainbow version of the story--it's the likeliest. Salt in the Jeff Flake elevator moment and what do you get? I'll play it safe and say I don't know, but I made sure, long before I could hope that Bill Cosby would serve time, that my fourteen-year-old daughter and my sixteen-year-old son knew never to take a drink you don't open yourself. Before I said another word, my sixteen-year-old added, "And no means no." We raised him right. We raised them both right. Their big brother got the same talk, and set a good example. 
What goes through the minds of the entitled, the privileged--the Chase Finlays, the Bill Cosbys, the Brett Kavanaughs? What goes through the minds of their defenders? Maybe the last question is the easiest to answer: fear. I think these women, the holdouts of the cult of domesticity, believe their protectors will vanish if certain crimes are acknowledged. It's much easier to say boys will be boys, look forward, not back, pretend it didn't happen, or if it did, it happened so long ago that we should all forget about such things. Distasteful to mention, distasteful to think about. This stance encourages Chase Finlay to call Alexandra Waterbury a "career ruiner" and to send his goons to threaten her. This stance allowed Cosby to stay free far too long. In an ocean of evidence, he kept his head way above water. This stance--it allows Kavanaugh to whine: "No fair, Mommy!" say the tears spouting from his eyes. The cynicism pouring from his sentimentality is nauseating. He would have done better to concede at the outset, to say: "Yes, I behaved wildly as a young man, I drank too much, I had blackouts, this vision of me presented by Ford rings true--but I'm no longer that man. I've reformed." He might have lost his chance sooner, but he could have walked away with honor. That option is no longer open.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Sex, Lies and Privilege at the New York City Ballet



Alexandra Waterbury’s nightmare would be mine: photos of me, vulnerable, naked, taken without my knowledge or permission.

For some time, I’ve wondered why anyone would permit nude photos in the first place--but these were not permitted. Why hand ammunition to someone of whom you may, at the least, tire? Not to mention dislike? Hate, even? I’m often met with a blank stare when I mention nude photos to persons younger than myself. They feel that any old photo, including or especially nude ones, is just a regular part of a relationship. They’re de rigueur.

These photos, taken on the sly, stole Waterbury's trust, her peace of mind, her sense of security. Taking a woman’s photo without consent exploits the woman. The obvious needs to be stated. I can well imagine Ms. Waterbury’s shock, sadness, disappointment—I can imagine the moment when she realized she had trusted a man whose desire to score overpowered any sense of judgement he may have had. If allegations that he trashed a Washington D.C. hotel room, encouraged friends to treat girls like “farm animals” and “sluts” are true, he was a bad choice for a boyfriend.

Mr. Finlay comes across on videos as a highly talented dancer from a wealthy background. He is devoted to his craft. Born and raised in Fairfield, CT, he loves to golf with his father. Every inch the privileged preppy, he remains a familiar type. A generation ago, male dancers often felt they had to prove they were straight by treating women like sex objects. Is that still the case? Or is the exuberant Mr. Finlay just getting away with his bad behavior because the NYCB did not think to curb it?

What did his parents teach him? How I wish I’d been a fly on a golf club, listening to the conversation of father and son. Or perched on the perfectly polished glass coffee table, taking in the family atmosphere. If there is one.

Because nice boys just don’t do what he did. Take advantage of a girl who was naïve, and probably dazzled by his fancy background.

But such exploitation is not new at the City Ballet. I am old enough to remember the stories of Balanchine bribing female dancers with household appliances if they let him cop a feel. Telling girls with agonized ligaments to just have a glass of red wine. Handing Gelsey Kirkland amphetamines to force her through a performance.

Drugs and anorexia seem to have faded from dance education, but the sexual balance of power continues to be a problem. I applaud Ms. Waterbury’s courage; it’s not easy to sue a big ballet company, to get stuck in a limelight much less glamorous than the stage at Lincoln Center.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Mr. Or Ms. Anonymous New York TImes OP-ED

My money is on Jared Kushner. Ivanka Lady-Macbethed him, and I would bet she'd have plucked the baby's boneless gums from her nipple and dashed its brains out had she sworn--the dud promised to marry her, right? Oops, that would be dude. Dude. But from her point of view, we can leave out that final "e".
Or did she write the thing herself? No, maybe Kellyanne Conway? These are some alternate facts all her own? Or the whole thing was a team effort led by Mike Pence? Oh, let some computer analyze the style.
The Hardy Boy books were written by committee. And it'll take a hardier mind than mine to figure this one. Sure doesn't bother Mr. T, recently pictured by Barry Blitt running through the woods just ahead of the basset hounds. I liked the missing shoe, Mr. Blitt. I wish the real Trump were as foolish as he seems in your cartoons and onscreen, but my fear is he reads people and situations like Sherlock Holmes. Maybe I'm wrong. Tell me I'm wrong. 
P.S. Thank you, Mr. or Ms. Anonymous. Undermine from within. Do it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Opioids and Me: A Cautionary Tale

No, I didn't take them to entertain myself. I had to. They'd planned on spinal anesthesia, the young doctors down at the university hospital, but after several painful tries on my scoliosis, they gave up--I was glad they did--and moved on to this other big O. 
"You will feel darkly disoriented," said the surgeon in green (I'm translating a German verb meaning exactly that). I was lying on the operating table, a rubber-scented oxygen mask over my nose and the room already spinning.
I can liken today's experience to extreme drunkenness, an unpleasant state I have endured only once, at the accidental instigation of my mother, who brought a gallon bottle of Gallo (this was 1970s Gallo) to a lobster dinner. The two of us drank every drop, since our friends had brought their own beer. The room, nay world-spinning feeling--our friends had to walk us home--culminated in the very same side effect as the operation-room opioids: projectile vomiting. 
This known side effect had inspired the notion that on this occasion, the surgeons would rely on spinal anesthesia. Last time, I totaled the bedside phone in my hospital room, and remembered when my oldest child, a large bowl placed beside his head, nevertheless turned and vomited across the room, missing not one spot.
"Mommy, you put the bowl on the wrong side!" He insisted. The look on the nurse's face, as she was attempting to clean the phone before giving up and throwing it away, approximated, I suppose, the look on mine upon receiving this information from my child. 
After today's surgery--minor--I requested breakfast. I got hospital lunch. First, it seemed to go down fine. I was very hungry. After I got home, my stomach rebuked me.
But I am proud to say, Gentle Reader, and if you're still with me you really are gentle! that  today, I projectiled into the toilet. At least all this happened in the comfort of my own home. I was experiencing one of those dreadful choices one must make when both ends of the alimentary canal urgently need to unload. I gambled, and I won! "Pee or puke first?" I made the right choice, you need not know which one. I am so glad to be home. It's my twentieth wedding anniversary, and my husband and I had been anticipating a night on the town, complete with wine. "No wine today!" said the doctor who let me go home. Good thing I followed orders.