Diversity In the News
With gratitude to Emily Litella and her friend, the late great Gilda Radner, writer Ellen Ferguson asks not “What’s all this I hear about violins on television?” but “What’s all this I hear about diversity in the news?” Grab a cup of tea and a big plate of non sequiturs and come along.
I’ve been thinking about migraines ever since they went public.
In the past it was just Ulysses S. Grant and me, suffering in silence.
In addition to his political responsibilities, Grant is actually known in the migraine community for his innovative approach to the headache. He pioneered this method: soak your feet in water as hot as you can stand, while putting something cold on your head at the same time.
Funny how he ended up establishing a reputation as something other than a migraine sufferer.
Hard to say what will happen with Michele Bachmann. Last month Judith Warner wrote, “Me, Michele and Our Migraines,” a column in the New York Times addressing migraine treatment.
At the same time, Peggy from Mad Men started talking about Excedrin Migraine [the first non-prescription medication approved by the FDA] on television, just when everyone was talking about Bachmann and whether her migraines might keep her from the White House.
This was confusing to me because I thought that besides Grant, we have had some presidents with physical constraints, say, wheelchairs. Gosh, FDR, imagine if you had been a woman with migraines? Lucky you were a man in a wheelchair!
Nancy Mairs, in her timeless essay, “On Being a Cripple,” wrote that being handicapped, or crippled (her preferred term), is funny at times.
Mairs favors the term cripple because it means something, whereas “alternatively abled” means nothing. For more on words that mean things, see Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language.”
Orwell knew that politics and language are the same thing.
That’s something we know both too well and not well enough.
We know it too well when we substitute language for reality. We fall short when we use words to say something different than what we really mean.
It’s tempting to say that all this fuss about Bachmann’s candidacy is legitimately about the fact that she has migraines, but let’s face it: it’s not.
Let’s pretend that she was a male cockapoo. The only reason a male cockapoo might have an easier time being president than a migraine sufferer is because I’ve been thinking lately that a male cockapoo might have an easier time getting a mortgage than I am. I keep thinking, “What if I were a male cockapoo?” This led me to brainstorm a short film series for either HBO or YouTube. It’s in development right now.
1. Rockapoo, in which a male cockapoo in Philadelphia dons a hoodie, drinks raw eggs for breakfast, and runs up the stairs. Then it barks, “Adrienne!”
2. The Rockapoo Horror Picture Show, soon to be released in digitally remastered format, in which a male cockapoo wears formfitting clothing and dances.
3. Hancockapoo, in which a male cockapoo has superpowers like flying, and it is also bulletproof.
And for television…
1. Mad Cockapoo, in which a male cockapoo working on Madison Avenue hooks up a lot while waxing nostalgic.
2. Modern Cockapoo, in which a male cockapoo and its family fight suburban malaise. The male cockapoo runs down the street barking in protest when a neighbor drives too quickly.
None of the above are that difficult to imagine, are they?
Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.
Witness the actual email I wrote to my real estate lawyer, mortgage broker, mortgage processor and realtor this morning:
As we approach the end of the week, I urge you to consider the following:
1. I have already asked my ex-husband to extend his lease one month past August 1. Our divorce settlement states that I would move out by August 1, and his lease was up August.
2. His apartment is now rented and he must vacate the premises.
3. His furniture is now being moved into our house, which is already full of furniture.
4. His plaster company, which has been rescheduled, is arriving shortly.
5. I start work on Monday.
Why should anyone care about these things?
1. As I move into my neighbor’s basement, while my three children watch, let’s remember this is also the summer we divorced.
2. My children are having a really hard time.
3. I have a pacemaker for a stress-related heart condition.
I beg you to look within yourselves and please rush this deal forward. I can’t take it any more.
The playwright Arthur Miller once wrote, “See it human.”
It seems to me that a male cockapoo would have an easier time getting a mortgage than I have this summer.
I see the male cockapoo at his closing, but I don’t see myself there. The closest I have gotten to closing time lately is listening to Tom Waits.
This same male cockapoo, after purchasing a home for his family, might dabble in the arts: I could see a male cockapoo starring in a number of short films, or television productions.
This male cockapoo might run for president someday—maybe even if he suffered from migraines.
Maybe instead of sending that email this morning I should have asked my cockapoo Bailey to stand in for me, and state my case.
Maybe presidential candidates who suffer from migraines should ask Bailey to represent them.
Bailey’s presence would go a long way, whichever difficult task lay ahead.
A cockapoo might get further than those of us who are trying for mortgages and presidencies these days.
But Bailey’s not the cockapoo for the job. She’s not the man.
SUGGESTED READSDiversity In the News: Column 7: Ring of Fire
by Ellen Ferguson (2/14/2011)
Diversity In the News: Column 16: Mad Squid
by Ellen Ferguson (8/5/2011)
Diversity In the News: Column 1: Mad Men, Modern Family, and Me
by Ellen Ferguson (10/14/2010)
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