He put down the guitar after another pitchy rendition of Sheeran’s, Perfect, and took a satisfying sip from his oversized coffee cup.
“You know, it’s my sixtieth Christmas and I have to say, I still love this time of year.”
“Well, it’s actually your sixty-first, but I know what you mean,” she said with unsettling certainty.
“I just turned sixty in October,” he protested—cautious indignation giving way to a defeated pout, when the penny eventually dropped.
“It sure was, the whole grandparenting thing made it pretty special,” he said. “It took me back to when our girls were toddlers, only at the nuked pace boys seem to come with, off-the-rack. What was the best part of the year for you?”
“Same about the grandkids, but retiring last Spring was kinda nice, too. And what a great summer trip we had to Scotland, Ireland, and England. Loved touring about and spending time with the Scottish cousins.”
“Yeah, we’re lucky to have exited the rat race with lots of energy to golf and travel.”
“True, but you may want to remember that next time you hunker down on the couch for a marathon session of the Trump spectacle on cable news.”
“I think I’ll try to wean myself off CNN in the new year,” he said, impulsively reaching for the remote before quickly detouring to his coffee cup.
“You should, there’s no point getting riled up when you don’t even have a vote. Besides, you’re going to have to be careful about popping off to people when we drive through red states between here and California this winter.”
“Geez, I know, Trump-trashing and the Second Amendment is not a particularly healthy mix.”
“I’ll be interested to see how the whole #MeToo movement shakes out this year,” she said, in a quick change of topics while her left foot deftly slid the clicker across the coffee tabletop and out of his reach.
“It’s a real sea change. Women are sure bringing attention to the scale of this thing, but I think men have to step up if real change is to come about,” he said, staring into his coffee cup and swirling it gently.
“Do you think all the public outings will throw enough of a scare for the douchebags to change their ways?” she said.
“I think it’s about a lot more than cases like Weinstein and C.K. Lewis. I read a story where Jodie Foster says ‘pretty much every man over 30 has to start thinking about their part’ in sexual misconduct. Not sure about the age bit, but she makes a fair point.”
“Are you saying all men are rogues?”
“Not all, but we’ve existed in a world of privilege and power that paves the way for shades of complicity. We should all take stock of how we may contribute to the problem, actively or tacitly. I think the good guys will recognize they play a part, learn from mistakes, and effect change. The rogues won’t. Men who give themselves an ‘all clear,’ because they’re not a Weinstein, are probably not looking deep enough.”
She took a few steps to flip the switch for the gas fireplace and pulled the fleece blanket over her as she reclaimed her place on the couch. “It’s shocking how many in media, entertainment, politics and sports have been called out on sexual misconduct allegations since Cosby and Ghomeshi: Trump, Lauer, O’Reilly, Spacey, Ratner, Hoffman, Rose, Franken, and Affleck, just to name a few.”
“And it seems like that’s just the tip of the iceberg for celebrities facing serious allegations,” he said, gazing into the fire. “But whether it’s assault, harassment, abuse, objectification, disrespect, coercion, or passive condonation, it all connects to the same problem. Most of us probably recognize ourselves somewhere on the scale, isolated offence or otherwise, and some will outright reject the notion.”
“Like the infamous ‘locker room talk’ defence.”
“I suspect, in that case, it’s guilty as charged, but whether it involves action, talk or mindset, it all feeds the same injustice. Rather than dismissing it as someone else’s problem, or claiming that it’s #NotMe because we’ve been upstanding guys most of the time, we need to be part of the solution, whether our influence is in family, social or employment circles.”
“If you follow social media commentary on the topic, rationalization seems to loop back to victim blaming,” she said. “You know, slutty clothes, overwhelming flirtation, sleeping their way up ladders—that sorta stuff.”
“Well, that may be the forbidden fruit, but it’s no excuse. You can’t call yourself a vegetarian if you only avoid the steak you don’t smell on the barbecue.”
“That’s a lousy metaphor.”
“Best I could cook up on short notice.”
Have a Happy, Healthy & Respectful 2018!