They Said It, I Read It and a Car Horn

By Christopher Gabriel
Blog Harbor

The past few weeks have been loaded with what amounts to a verbal and prose buffet’s-worth of items screaming for attention in Blog Harbor.  With that in mind, grab your coffee, get comfy and let’s chat.

Hi Sweetie-Pie

I grew up in a family that frequently used names like honey and sweetie when speaking to each other.  I imagine most people reading this had, or have, the same experience in their own families.  But what do you do when the gal at Starbucks, someone you’ve never met or seen before, greets you with “Mornin’ sweetie-pie.”  As I stood at the counter half-awake expecting little more than a smile and “Hi, what can I get for you,” her comment jolted me like a quadruple espresso. 

I should point out although I wasn’t the least bit offended by what she said, the comment seemed just a wee bit out of bounds.  But as I waited for my coffee, I tried to imagine the same scenario if my wife was standing next to me.  Would she have called me “sweetie-pie?”  My wife is 5’6″, very slender and looks nothing like someone ready to throw down in Ultimate Fight Challenge.  But had this girl said that with her standing there, she’d surely have had an appropriate retort.

And what if the situation was reversed?  What if a male worker had said “Mornin’ sweetie-pie” to a female?  I don’t care if the gal was 16 or 60, the level of propriety carries a higher standard with the bar of intolerance reached much quicker when it’s male to female.  Right or wrong, that’s the way it is in our society. 

So, for argument’s sake, would I have been out of line had I called her on the comment?  Would it have been an overreaction?  Would other customers behind me in line have been annoyed that taking issue with her was delaying the start of their day?  And the teenage gal behind me, grabbing coffee on her way to school – what if the comment came her way from one of the guys behind the counter?  Had she protested, would that same line of adults behind her, mostly male, have said anything in her defense?  Or, would they have been equally irritated that they were being made to wait a little longer for their coffee?

Is there a “right” time to say something in public when you hear, or are the object of, something inappropriate?  Or are we all better off simply accepting what we hear and see no matter the circumstances?

Fans Who Desperately Need to Come Out of Their Bunkers

As we inch closer to summer, this time of year is overflowing with sports options.  But rather than spend this past weekend immersed in the NBA and NHL playoffs, Major League Baseball or pondering what the Chicago Bulls will do with the first selection in the NBA draft, I caught up on musings from around the SEC, Big 10, Big 12, PAC 10 and ACC to see what folks, both columnists and fans, were saying about the upcoming college football season.  As I expected, most columnists walked the line of cautious optimism and what amounted to “the season will likely be a failure” inferences.  Fans were far more polarizing, however.  Of course to know what fans are saying means making the journey to the always entertaining, sometimes vitriolic, and quite often equally informative world of fans message boards.

Of the hundreds of comments I perused over the weekend, the most ridiculous came from a Tennessee fan who wrote, “No Tennessee football player will ever win the heisman popularity contest as long as the new york touchdown club is in control.”  The actual name is the Downtown Athletic Club but really, let’s not let the name of the organization get in the way of Heisman exfoliating. 

And to be fair, that fan’s view could have been written by anyone that follows any other major program.  Point being, fans everywhere remain eternally convinced there is a well-coordinated plot to diminish or bring down their favorite team.  Tennessee fans are among the most knowledgable, dedicated and passionate fans in all of college football so I’m by no means singling them out.

Nevertheless, I’ve written on this topic before and after reading that comment, it’s clear a revisit is required.

Will some of these fans ever wake up from their “everybody hates us!” inferiority complex?  The Heisman Trophy voters, ESPN, the national media and members of British Parliament do not start each day by trying to figure out how to screw your team.  The comment I illustrated was written regarding the Vols’ Peyton Manning losing out to Michigan’s Charles Woodsen for the 1997 Heisman Trophy.  Now, while I completely agree Manning should have won the Heisman – in fact, I think it was a travesty that he didn’t win – 11 years have passed since Woodsen won the award.  This just in:  Life and the world of sports have moved on.  I have a feeling, though I could be wrong, that Peyton, his Super Bowl championship ring, his NFL and Super Bowl MVP awards . . . and his life as well . . . have moved on.

What to make of the FLDS

I’m not going to recount the curious series of events that have unfolded at the FLDS community in Eldorado, Texas; everyone is well aware of what’s happened, or not happened, down there with the children, their parents and the allegations of sexual abuse.  No, I’m more interested in trying to figure out just what the deal is with these FLDS folks.

Is it me or does every last one of these people, men and women, sound exactly the same?  And I don’t mean just what they say, but how they say it.  Each one that finds his/her way in front of a camera sounds hypnotized, as if every word coming out of their mouths is being fed to them by someone through a tiny ear piece seconds before they actually say it.

The most mind-boggling thing to me is hearing both attorneys for the children and FLDS spokespersons saying on CNN, Fox and elsewhere various versions of “these people here are no different than you and me.” 

Stop right there. 

They most certainly are different than me and everyone I know, both family and friends alike.  Last I checked, not a single one of my family members or friends finds polygamy an acceptable lifestyle.  As a starting point, that puts me and those I know light years removed from FLDS members.

Then, there’s the smug factor.  In every interview I’ve seen, the attitude from their members and spokespersons is, in essence, “the rest of you simply don’t get it . . . our way of life, how we school our young ones and how we conduct ourselves is the right way.”  Really?  Their holier-than-thou platform, pardon the mixed reference, borders on insufferable. 

Several nights ago on CNN’s Larry King Live, Willie Jessop, an FLDS spokesperson, said “I think that the world over has more polygamy in it than there’s monogamy.”  Well that’s a terrific argument, Willie.  You do know polygamy remains against the law in the U.S., right?  Or do the laws of this country not pertain to your happy little enclave in Eldorado?

My gut tells me something is really out of whack down there.  All of the comments from FLDS members sound rehearsed, scripted and way too convenient when lined up against common sense.  And what of the 20 or so underage girls who became pregnant and were married “spiritually” to older men?  What part of that is acceptable to most any morally and ethically sound person?  Wait, wait . . . my mistake.  I’m making a judgment.  I’m imposing my own definition of what constitutes good moral and ethical behavior.  Apparently, most media members who have closely followed and reported on the FLDS for years, FLDS members who have fled the community and emphatically spoken out against them, and everyday folks like me and many others have it all wrong.

As a parent, I feel terribly for the children.  They are the unwitting victims of misguided adults: Either the ones allegedly trying to protect them, the ones insisting they’ve been protecting them . . . or both.

The Car Horn: Less is Plenty

Why do some people use their car’s horn more than, say, the turn signal?  Last week, I was driving on a street approaching a stop sign.  When I was about 150 feet or so from the intersection with a car following closely behind me, I flipped my right turn signal on.  Getting closer to the stop sign, I began slowing down to my complete stop.  About halfway through my subsequent right turn the guy in the car behind me not only blew his horn, he sat on the damn thing for about 10 seconds.  Even after I was going up the street I turned on while he continued on the street I turned from, he was still blowing the horn.  Was the additional horn time his “statement” that he didn’t appreciate me stopping . . . at the stop sign? 

It’s in moments like those I’d like to have a bulldozer with an oversized scoop.  I would very much then welcome the opportunity to find that guy, scoop him and his car up and subsequently leave him up in the air for a few hours. 

Do you ever wonder what compels people to blow at you for absolutely no good reason?  I’ve made mistakes when driving and had people rightfully give me a toot or an all-out symphony from their horn.  But when I get stuck with the jackass behind me that believes I should go straight on red or skip stopping at stop signs, it’s those moments, as my face contorts to the Spartan Death Look, my wife insists I need to flap my wings (like a duck releasing pent up energy after a fight so that he doesn’t think about it the rest of the day . . . fascinating theory by Eckhart Tolle) and move on.

By nature, Greeks aren’t very good at the whole flapping wings thing but I’ve promised her I’d try.  In fact, just thinking about that fool on the road, I now need to breathe and flap.  But she didn’t tell me whether to actually flap my arms or just imagine flapping.  Fine, I’m going to flap.

Breathe, flap.  Breathe, flap.  Breathe, flap . . . 

You know where this is getting me?  My four year old daughter just got out of bed, saw what I was doing and asked, “Daddy, why are you acting like a seal?”  I said “honey, it’s a duck, go back to bed.”  She gave me a kiss, walked back down the hall, stopped at her door and said, “I really think it’s a seal.”          

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Filed Under: ChildrenFamilyFootballLifeMediaPolitical CorrectnessSocietySports


About the Author: Christopher Gabriel is the host of the cleverly named Christopher Gabriel Program on AM 970 WDAY in Fargo, North Dakota. You can hear him weekdays from 9 to Noon. As a writer and humorist, his work has been been published online by the Chicago Sun-Times, Reuters and publications within the Sun-Times News Group.

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  1. Man, see what happens when you neglect to update….you get blogarrhea! You need some tums sweetyhoneyloveyfuzzychile! 😉

    Um either that or we need a beer or three!


  2. CGabriel says:

    “blogarrhea” — isn’t that a blog listing service?


  3. Kids are America’s most precious and most at-risk citizens. With drugs and peer pressure facing them on a daily basis, it’s no wonder that mental illness and drug abuse is at an all time high. Problems facing American children.


  4. How dare someone honk at my friend! Punk.

    That “sweetie-pie” thing is hilarious.
    Here is what you could have done: Looked around behind you as if you thought she may have been speaking to someone else.

    My friends and I were just commenting the other day about the things we call our students, like “sweetie, hon, darling.” For me, those are used when I am not feeling purely that way toward a kid, but I say it to amp up my patience, or remind myself that I need to like the kid…
    It’s hard to explain, but that woman at Starbucks may not have only had pure feelings of affection for you. Did you maybe hear some irritation and resentment along with her morning cheer?


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