Next month brings the "odometer change" that will mark five full years of my eligibility to order from the “Our Guests 55 and Older” page in the IHOP menu.
This gives one pause.
Within these last few weeks, the “youthful indiscretions” of a good many notable men who dwell in the realms of entertainment and politics have been brought to light. I shall exhibit the good taste expected from the readers of this periodical not to belabor, further, the nature of these indiscretions.
But it occurs to me that I am in the last few weeks of my last year of opportunity for any indiscretions of my own to be considered youthful.
Precedent for my declaration of this year was set when that infamous former TV reality-show star/ over-dressed WrestleMania® character (he wore a suit, not tights) /second-tier beauty pageant owner, and savvy-successful casino bank-rupter... was recorded, whilst riding on a luxury-TV-show bus, making some old-school predator comments that got replayed repeatedly in the media, to the chagrin of some, the outrage of many, and to the cry of foul! from those who would defend the perpetrator. This last group waved off his remarks – as he himself did – with the rationalization of his braggadocio being only “locker room talk.” (One wonders, that while men have been known to gather in other places, what is it, specifically, about a locker room that cultivates these baser comments?)
A great many of the showman’s defenders gave retorts such as, “People, get over it, that was 11 years ago!”
I am not kidding. A lot of people said stuff like that.
Now, of course, it has been twelve years.
At the time of the incident, the live-mic-wearing cockalorum (who now inhabits both entertainment and political spheres) was 59 years of age.
I am 59.
See?... this is my last chance for any of my behavior to be blamed on youthful indiscretion.
Specifically, the desire to publish this indiscreet little essay in my hometown paper.
Whew. Just made it.
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• • •
I submitted the above to my editor and boss on Tuesday, Nov. 14 – well before the deadline. Oh, how I praised myself for being pro-active as I rose above procrastination. (Trust me, I am not no amateur at crasination. Truly, I am a pro.)
The thing is…
As my road buddy John McCutcheon, says, political writing has a short shelf life. Sometimes the shelf life of a particular piece of writing can go sour more quickly than we thought possible.
(So now, I am typing like a madman; Jackie has to have this by noon!)
On account of… yesterday – as of this writing – yet another political character fell from grace, as the saying goes.
But, maybe not.
What is grace?
I played good ol’ Newton County Recreational baseball from the time I was 8 until I was 14 years old. One of the most important lessons I learned during that first year of playing ball was to own the blame for an errant throw. (I learned that from a beloved mentor whom I will not name here, lest he be dragged through the mire of this opinionated piece. Suffice it to say, this man still walks his dog in the cemetery behind my house, and to this day I call him, “Coach.”)
When we were little boys gathering as a team, we warmed up, of course, by playing catch. If you threw the ball ten feet over your buddy’s head, you were to bark, “My fault!” Y’all, I am here to tell you, early language can inform future behavior. As I grew older, I watched that particular sports colloquialism switch to “My bad!” And over the years, I have been gladdened to observe those two words make their way into other phases of life.
People do not fall from Grace. People run from it when they run from blame.
Grace is unmerited.
Grace comes when forgiveness is implored.
Grace comes when people say things like, “I am asking that an ethics investigation be undertaken, and I will gladly cooperate.”
Grace can only come when people say, “My bad.”
A native of Covington, Andy Offutt Irwin is a nationally renowned storyteller, humorist, singer, songwriter, musician, whistler and human noise maker. Andy’s take on small town life has resulted in 10 albums, 1000s of shows, and many awards, including the 2013 Oracle Circle of Excellence from the National Storytelling Network. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.