Black & White News Is No News At All

Joan Crawford is credited with saying, “They expect to see Joan Crawford, not the girl next door. If they want to see the girl next door, then let them go next door.”

Whether or not Joan said those words is immaterial to me. I like the sentiment expressed, even though I’m not so fond of Joan Crawford’s movies, except for Mildred Pierce, and even though I’ve never been a girl next door.

I’ve been reading a sympathetic biography of Joan. After reading her daughter Christina’s diatribe regarding her mother, this book clears the reader’s throat with little effort given to the swallow. Sort of an extended article from People Magazine. Yes, although I never subscribed to People Magazine, I pick it up and browse its contents each time I visit a dentist’s office or a barber’s shop and find it lying there available on a glass-topped coffee table.

Why? It’s an easy read.

Now that I’m retired from the spotlight, my life feels easier. This morning I ate a pear and a cup of yogurt for breakfast. For lunch I ate the same, while sitting under a warm and sunlit sky. Tonight I’ll slip a chicken pot pie into the oven, add some Tabasco sauce to the brew and watch a black-and-white movie, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, starring Bette Davis, Joseph Cotten and Olivia de Havilland. Bette Davis owned an ugly face and a tireless sense of beauty. Cotten’s presence was all about his stature and his voice. De Havilland was a saccharin-sweet ingenue for most of her early career, but she gives the audience an evil punch in the face with this performance.

So what? Who cares what I think about movies and girls next door? No one at all, and that’s the beauty of this article. I have nothing of import to say, and yet I own the freedom to say nothing.

Yesterday’s entry, The Dragon Eats His Tale, angered some who read it. We never knew that you felt that way about your profession. We thought you held your heart close inside your voice each time you entered a classroom. How could you make mention of stupidity when speaking of your community?

Truth is, friends, that I hold my heart where she belongs; and I wear my mind not far behind my eyes. If you failed to notice that my so-called profession dissatisfied me, then you failed to notice me.

When I was young, I was a firebrand with a big mouth. I then lacked tact. I considered risk an essential ingredient for change.

Periodically, throughout ensuing years, one or another colleague would advise me to “play the game” (yes, using just those words).

As I grew older, I reviewed both my performance and my options. I decided that I’d always been a damned effective educator, even working against the odds; but, as well, I came to understand that effectiveness inside a classroom was of little consequence. In fact, I took on my job in order to battle ignorance, and ignorance won the war.

My greatest weakness lay inside my refusal to accept the fact that my irascibility worked against my goals.

So I became less irascible and less an irritant. I think.

For about a dozen years, I tried my best to act as advocate for recent immigrants, whether here in the USA legally or illegally. Once this golden land erased bilingual education from the map in one fell swoop, however, I discovered that my superiors felt relief at not having to speak a second language (let the secretaries interpret!), and that the people for whom I thought I advocated wanted no more than to be told that their offspring were “making progress” (which most times was a crock of frijoles). Bring on free lunch and after-hours babysitting!

I’ve come to resent, full-throttle, immigrants who cross our border illegally. I grew up with a sense of honor where citizenship was concerned.

So go ahead and become upset with me. At my age, and in my current circumstance, I feel no need to please you by way of lies or silence. In fact, I will someday complete my book.

In the meantime, I’ll sit under sunlit skies and think, eat fresh fruit and yogurt whenever I feel the urge, watch black-and-white movies that I first enjoyed when I was just a boy who considered eleven o’clock at night a late hour, and write to my heart’s content.

Oh, blessed retirement. Blessed truth. Blessed news that is no news at all.

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