Hot Air: Women, Girls & Others

No Heroes

Sorry, friends, I’m not jumping aboard the Corker & Flake bandwagon.


Lots of folks on my side of the fence are huzzah-ing the tardily outspoken, outgoing Republican senators for telling President Gag off good and proper.

Only both members of that august body of 100 have voted in line w/ the Li’l Duce program almost every time since our national embarrassment was inaugurated in January.

So, really, what they’re railing about is not P. Gag’s inhumane, supremacist, nationalistic, me-first philosophy of governance and life but the fact that he…, well, is acting indecorously.

In other words, he ain’t behaving like a good, obedient corporate systems manager should.

Which is the very least of his sins.

Muddy No More

Nashville’s venerable Muddy Boots/Pine Room Tavern is set to close. It’ll be on life support for perhaps three weeks, then the owner, Betsy, will lock the doors forever. She simply can’t bleed money anymore.

MB/PRT has occupied its current space only since February, 2016. Muddy Boots alone had stood on Nashville’s main drag, Van Buren Street, from 1949 through 2015. It moved down the way to a little strip mall on SR 46 east of the Brown County Inn and the county jail where it shared a large space with the Pine Room.

Too bad. The place had a real small town feel, with locals gathering around a big table every morning for coffee, maybe an egg or two, gossip, and chit-chat about the state of the world.


Lots of dirty words around this holy land these days and one of them is abortion.

A dreamy-eyed optimist back in 1973 might have thought thought the whole abortion argument had been wrapped up with Roe v. Wade. The Christian Taliban arose, thanks to that landmark decision, and for the ensuing decades has made a lot of noise about somehow overturning it. The fundamentalists and their errand boys in various statehouses have picked and pecked away at a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy in most of the backwater states of this union. In fact, some locales down in Tennessee Williams-land have jerry-rigged things so that, effectively, most, if not all, Mississippi and Alabama women cannot free themselves from an unwanted pregnancy.

Hell, a few states that can claim to be civilized have ushered in new laws restricting access to — and even the presence of — abortion clinics.

And now with the ascension of Li’l Duce to the throne, the entire national right to abortion (the theoretical right, that is) appears as iffy as Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s future in this vale of fears.

The new Monroe County chapter of the National Organization for Women (again, I still fail to comprehend how a progressive outpost like Bloomington hadn’t had a NOW office all these years) is co-sponsoring a screening of the documentary Jackson, directed by Maisie Crow. It’s the story of three women in the eponymous Mississippi state capital who get tangled up in the brouhaha over abortion. Their stories are framed by the effort by anti-abortionists to close down the one remaining abortion clinic in the entire state. The doc appeared on Showtime this past May and now is in circulation among local advocacy groups around the country.

The Unitarian Universalist Church Bloomington Reproductive Justice Task Force and Monroe County NOW will present the film Sunday, November 5th, at the Waldron Center, 122 S. Walnut St., at 3:00pm. It’ll be followed by a panel discussion chaired by Carol McCord, Interim Director of Indiana University Advocates Office. The panelists will include Josh Vollmer, IU Medical Student Indiana State Senator Jean Breaux and Columbia University Law School Professor Carol Sanger.

Tainted Name

I was looking through an organization’s website trying to find a likely contact person for a story I’m working on. I happened upon the profile of a woman named Barbara.

Now, Barbara’s one of those names that has gone way out of fashion (meaning in ten to fifteen years, it’ll be among the hottest new baby names). I don’t believe I know anybody named Barbara right now and, for the life of me, I can’t think of any Barbaras I’ve known in the last 20 or so years, maybe more.

Which is good because the name Barbara will always be tainted for me. Whenever I see or hear the name I automatically think of an excruciating incident I witnessed when I was nine.

Old School

Flashback to the winter of 1965/66. I was in the fourth grade at St. Giles School. One of my classmates was a quiet girl who rarely spoke up in class. I don’t remember her ever raising her hand. It wasn’t a girl thing that kept this particular classmate quiet; at St. Giles there was no end of eager girls who’d throw their hands up and ooh-ooh like Horshack every time the teacher tossed out a Q. No, she was painfully shy.

Early one afternoon, this girl raised her hand to the astonishment of us all. The teacher, a nun, acknowledged her. “S’ter,” the girl said, “can I go to the bathroom?”

The nun fixed her with an icy glare. “No you may not. You had plenty of time to go to the bathroom at lunch.”

The girl clasped her hands and bit her lower lip. Soon, she started tapping on the floor with her black and white saddle shoes. (We had to wear uniforms at St. Giles.) A few moments later, the girl shocked us by raising her hand again.

“Yes?” the nun said, none too amicably.

“S’ter, I really have to go to the bathroom.”

The none froze her with a single word: “No.”

The girl didn’t stay frozen long. Her tapping started up again. A minute elapsed. Then two. Maybe even five. Suddenly, a yellow puddle formed under the girl’s chair. The class became silent. I don’t think anyone even breathed. The only thing we could hear was the ticking of the clock.

I stared at the poor girl with my mouth open. I knew at that moment her life was ruined. I wanted to cry for her. In fact, I couldn’t take note of how the nun reacted or what became of the girl — other than she disappeared for the rest of the afternoon — owing to the fact that I was too busy trying to make sure nobody saw my watering eyes.

Her name was Barbara. From that day on she was The Girl Who Peed In Her Pants. I’ll bet she thinks of the incident to this day. I know I do.

Especially when I see the name Barbara.

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