Putz, Yutz & Sacred Honor

My husband had a dental appointment early this morning, and I went with him because the dentist is an amusing, chatty fellow and it’s fun to talk to him while my husband’s mouth is loaded with instrumentation and all he can do is make that funny “ah-oh” noise, in conversation.

Two years ago, I had a wisdom tooth extracted and the dentist and my husband were so busy talking that I felt ignored. I grunted and pointed at my husband: “‘oo ‘hut ‘uut!” then to the dentist, “‘oo, ‘ull da ‘oot!”

“The tooth is out,” my husband said. The dentist showed it to me. They hadn’t even paused for a breath.

He’s a very good dentist, but he never shuts up. I mentioned that we’d be stopping off at the polls when he was through poking around my husband’s mouth, and he was off and running:

“I voted this morning, was one of the first on line. I hate this new system! Bring back the booths! They give you a flair to mark the ballot. Mine was already drying out; they better have thousands of these pens or this election day is going to be a disaster! You’re gonna have people on line with whiney kids, old ladies with canes, and they’re going to be stuck while some polling inspector runs to 7-11 to buy some felt-tip pens and a donut! Then I’m looking at that ballot and I’m so disgusted. Look at our choices for governor: Cuomo–that putz!–and Palladino, who is a clown, a yutz! And I’m standing there thinking, ‘this is the great state of New York! Captains of industry live here! Smart, creative people who know how to manage and to lead, and this is the best we can field as candidates? A putz and a yutz?’ I heard a guy on the radio today, he’s tellin’ the other guy, ‘the Democrats are wondering what happened, how did they read the mood so wrong?’ I’ll tell you how. We sent them to Washington to represent us and when we told them what we wanted and what we didn’t want, they said, ‘shut up, you’re stupid, you don’t know anything and we know everything.’ So, good. Now they’re gonna know what it’s like to be out of power. You don’t tell the people who voted you in that you have to pass a bill to find out what’s in it. You don’t tell the voters to shut up because you know better…’

When my husband’s mouth was finally clear he said to me, “never talk politics with a man when he has sharp steel instruments in someone else’s mouth! He didn’t hurt me, but a few times he was pretty worked up!”

So we went, and voted, and yes we hate the new system, too. Turnout was heavy but not especially happy. I would call the mood grim. But then again, as the dentist said, here in New York our choices are less-than-inspiring, and no upsets are foreseen. None of them bring the words “sacred honor” to mind.

Speaking of “sacred honor,” my Tuesday column is up on the home page, and it is about the quiet power of that sacred honor; what we have, what we’ve nearly lost, and why we need to remember, and to teach our kids:

. . .that liberty lives in truth spoken forthrightly, and not in circuitous spin; that liberty thrives where people can speak without fear of injury or reprisals; that liberty is sustained only when the press is free and unencumbered; that liberty flourishes when people refuse to be intimidated into silence or acquiescence, but becomes a fragile thing, easily diminished, when we refuse to acclaim it for ourselves.

You can read it all here

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