Maxed out 

Real people and the Olympics


"Why can't a woman be more like a man...."

- Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe


Before anyone goes off the deep end and hits their Flame-On button, I'd like to take this opportunity to let you know that what follows has absolutely nothing to do with gender wars, women or men, except tangentially. I feel as though I've just asked someone not to beat me up until I take off my glasses. Oh well.

When professor Henry Higgins makes that lament to Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady , everyone knows it's the last gasp of a confirmed bachelor about to fall hopelessly in love with the gutter snipe-cum-Lady, Eliza Doolittle. In his meek protest, Higgins fumes about women being irrational, their heads full of cotton, hay and rags. He goes so far as to call them maddening and infuriating hags.

By contrast, men in his world are honest and thoroughly square, eternally noble, historic'ly fair. After nattering on about such nonsense for the requisite two-and-a-half minutes any decent Broadway song runs, Higgins delivers the gem of wisdom in this sea of piffle in the song's last line. "Why can't a woman be like me?" Indeed, why not.

Now, as promised, let's neuter the batty professor's little lesson and begin to get to the point.

One of the most maddening and infuriating rallying cries of unreason and intemperance from the culture wars of the late 1960s and early 1970s in my home and native land - the U.S. in case you've forgotten - was "America: Love It or Leave It." It was as seductive as it was facile to the Vietnam hawks and they plastered their bumpers with it from coast to coast. More directive than the sticker often placed alongside it, "My Country Right or Wrong," it embodied the simplistic conclusions of those who saw protest and disagreement as treasonous acts. Yes, it was ironic, considering the country was born out of protest and revolution, but irony wasn't their strong suit.

I could never see it without giving passing thought to dropping a lighted match down their gas tank's fill spout. But then, I would have simply been proving their point. Kind of like the message a government sends when it practices capital punishment: "We're going to execute you, Mr. Murderer, because some problems are just so big the only solution is to kill someone... which I think was your conclusion and what brought us to this sad state of affairs to begin with."

We're more than a little pregnant here in Tiny Town. Our due date is February 12, 2010, when we're set to give birth to a bouncing baby 800 pound gorilla, the XXI Winter Olympics. Many of us are thrilled and excited and can't wait for the Games to begin. Many of the rest of us are appalled and horrified and can't wait for the Games to be over. Having failed to win over those who wish the Olympics were elsewhere with their excitement, enthusiasm and promise of Legacies, some in the former camp are now asking the naysayers to climb aboard the Hype Express and "be more like me."


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