Rachel Maddow

Memo to self: Just shut up and let them dance

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The young woman on the TV last night was talking about her dad dying. She missed her dad. And, probably worst of all, he would never get to see her compete on “So You Think You Can Dance.” 

It was all very sad. I could tell it was sad because there was very sad music playing and tightly framed cutaways to dance judge Mary Murphy welling up with tears.

You always know how to feel about what you are seeing on “So You Think You Can Dance” by watching Mary Murphy. She has no emotional filter, by television standards. It is all out there on-screen.

This, of course, is where I should have just shut up and watched the show.

But, no.

“I get that they need to have emotional hooks,” I fumed. “But, I mean, why do they always have to exploit some personal tragedy, why is it always about a parent dying?

“Can’t they have stories like somebody being born with one leg shorter than the other who overcomes all kinds of barriers to become a great dancer?”

I blathered on over the top of the onscreen dance commentary – completely missing the dark reddening hue of annoyance gathering strength around Rose, the former ballet dancer and teacher. It was growing crimson, toward rage and I never noticed.

“Some of the greatest artistry in dance comes from pain and loss!”  she finally said. In a burst of exasperation, the words toppled out, “Personal suffering inspires creativity! These people have experienced very real pain. What is wrong with them talking about it? And do you mind? All I want to do is watch this show!”

Me, stupidly: “Yeah, but ….”

OK, that didn’t end well.

After I’d pretty much destroyed the magic of the moment, Rose retired to the bedroom to read. Closing the door behind her. That was a first.

Sure. I was wrong. And I do this all the time — this stupid, snarky commentary; this ah-ha fingering of plotline improbabilities; this chortling disdain of dippy dialogue.

I tell myself it is the vestige of those years as a newspaper editorial writer and then arts & entertainment critic. Hell, back then I was paid to have an opinion. Pretty well, too.

Now I can’t stop myself. I’m giving it away, folks!

And it isn’t just TV and movies.

Somebody, please, stop me.

My kids have pretty much blocked my comments on Facebook. I’m sure others have, too, as I’m more than a little to the left of Elizabeth Warren on social issues and to the left of Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart in my disdain for the FOX-Limbaugh-Hannity-Beck-NRA septic spew.

Even last night after Rose called me out, I was on Facebook posting  about Biblical teachings masquerading as science in elementary school s and the devil-incarnate Rep. Louie Gohmert using his House seat to promote—nay, impose – his extremely conservative Christian values on political proceedings.

I got into a brief exchange with my wife’s former sister-in-law in Australia.  She is a wonderful, gracious woman and a devout Christian and I felt bad that she might have perceived in my writing an attack on Christianity. And it probably sounded that way — but I was angered by the abuses of Christianity.

We’ll be seeing each other in another month in England and we both look forward  to visiting and the wedding we’ll be attending.  I did advise her that I have promised Rose that I will not discuss religion or politics while in England. Rose’s  idea.  And probably an excellent one, under the circumstances.

I should just shut up and listen more.  In fact, no more angry Facebook postings.

For a while.

This one’s for you on Father’s Day, Dad.

My father was a big believer in all things FOX and Limbaugh. We didn’t get together much in his later years but when we did our conversations were famously short.

“Hi, Dad. Love you. Missed you.”

“Hello, Robert. Love you too, son. So, are you still proud of that Obama guy after this?”

“Uh. Obama? What did he do?”

“Well, Rush says … “

“Jesus, Dad. End it right there. I won’t have a discussion where you use those guys as references. You have exited the real world. They are propagandists ….”  And I would go on and on.

And he would just grin.

Pushing all the right buttons, getting payback for all the parental pain and suffering that I’d generated in my teens and twenties, I suppose.

He’s gone now. So is my Mom, who kept her own politics pretty private. I think she was a Republican, too, back in the day when it was respectable to be a Republican with a social conscience.

I’d give anything to have one last civil discussion with my Dad. I don’t have to tell him I love him. He knew that. But if I could only have convinced him that FOX News is pure garbage ….