Be sweet, Lewis, be sweet.
Those were the words Mama Grizzard spoke to Lewis each morning as she sent him out the door into the big wide world of elementary school.
That’s southern-speak for be kind, be patient, be forgiving, be compassionate, be slow to anger, be gracious.
Sometimes I wonder if today’s parents aren’t sending their kids off to school with the admonition to “Kick ass, son. Kick ass.”
Consider Elan Gale and his mama. Elan, whose Twitter page identifies him as the producer of ABC’s The Bachelor, posted the picture of what he says is his momma’s message to a disgruntled woman named “Diane” that Elan encountered during a flight over the holiday weekend.
We only have Elan’s side of a totally made-up publicity-stunt story to go by, but according to him, a woman he described as in her 40s or 50s and wearing “mom jeans”, became distraught when their US Airways flight to Phoenix was delayed. She let it be known that she wanted to get home for Thanksgiving. Elan felt Diane was being rude to the airline staff. So he began posting his thoughts about all that on Twitter.
Pretty soon, those thoughts of his erupted into a full-on Twitter-documented note-exchange confrontation between Elan and the woman known as Diane. You can read it all here.
The ABC producer was upset over what he deemed was rude behavior on Diane’s behalf. Her being short or curt or plain out pissy with airline personnel.
Elan has a point – everybody was likely trying to get somewhere important. What good does it do to be ugly to the airline staff? What can they do about a delayed flight?
So Elan sent her a glass of wine, with a note suggesting that if she is drinking she won’t be talking. Clearly Elan and others were weary of hearing Diane complain.
And thus ensued an on-flight pissing match between Elan Gale and Diane. For all his good intentions, Elan resorts to fighting dirty.
Perhaps his own ill-conceived behavior could be marked up to the stress of the holidays. Maybe he had too much to drink. Or maybe he was simply egged on by the notion of titillating his Twitter fans.
Whatever the case, his behavior - and that of his own mother – was crass and just as ill-mannered as that of the woman Elan’s been so keen on correcting.
The Elan Gale-Diane episode reportedly ended when Diane stepped off the plan to the waiting Elan, another note in hand, and flat-out bitch-slapped him. Or so he reported. (What other ending could there be for a producer of The Bachelor?)
I wasn’t there, so I only have Elan’s word to go by but it’s a word that has been widely reported in news media’s across the nation. The HuffPo called Elan their new Thanksgiving hero.
That’s an ill-fitting label, even by Elan’s own admission: “Our troops are heroes. Fire fighters and policemen are heroes. Doctors and teachers are heroes. Flight attendants and pilots and waiters and baristas… These are the people that make things work in this crazy world.”
Elan is right about one thing – He is no hero. He, in fact, is just the flip-side to Diane’s coin.
Moralistic, condescending, arrogant, crass and every bit as bitchy as the woman he was attempting to put in her place.
Otherwise, away from the hot lights of Twitter and reality TV, I’m sure, he’s a perfect gentleman.
We would all do well to take Momma Grizzard’s advice to heart and make a more concerted effort to “Be Sweet”.
Life is difficult enough.
What do any of us gain by applauding such crassness? We all lose when whenever one of us willingly contributes to the corrosion of culture – we lose a part of our own humanity.