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I Confess

A Childhood Lesson In Disrespect to Women

So much of the conversation here has revolved around the execrable behavior of immature men like Jon Favreau. I’m no Favreau, or so I liked to think, but I reached deep into my past and remembered one of the most disrespectful things I ever did to a woman– well, she’s a woman now.

It was in Junior High school, eighth grade. Val was this really brilliant girl in my class. She was always getting an A+ on everything, or so it seemed. She was so perfect that I found it downright annoying.

Val isn’t her name. I call her that because she went on to become valedictorian. Her sister had been a valedictorian. So not only was Val perfect, her sister was perfect. I quipped that if they had children, their children would be perfect too.

I think Val liked me. When our mothers met, hers seemed to know very much who I was. One day another girl put in a word for Val– and then it happened. It was a horrible year and mine was a horrible mood. For no reason I said a terrible thing that I won’t even repeat. What had she done? Nothing– except to be “perfect.”

The punishment was swift, comprehensive, and devastatingly appropriate. That year I fell in love with Val. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. By senior year I was desperate enough to write a love letter. I was rebuffed. “I cannot,” she wrote, “find it in me to respond to your advances.”

I can’t describe the cataclysm this experience was to my emotions. In military terms it would be the equivalent of the fall of Carthage or Troy– all because I had been disrespectful to a young woman.

I got over Val– but I didn’t forget. After thirty-four years, I could not excise the incident from my mind. How appropriate that I would be relating it on the blog of the woman who, for the qualities I see in her, most reminds me of Val.  I don’t know if that is the final humiliation in my sentence, or the last condition for my parole. I only know that I could count on my fingers the women I knew who were in a league with Val.

Well meaning people say it’s never too late; I can settle down with the woman of my dreams. Yet life is not a Jane Austen novel. For me there cannot be, and will never be, a storybook romance and wedding– not with anybody.

I’ll share some lyrics that helped comfort me in this epic crime and punishment. I was with a friend many years ago, and this song was playing on the radio.

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
You been out ridin’ fences for so long now
Oh, you’re a hard one
I know that you got your reasons
These things that are pleasin’ you
Can hurt you somehow.

Don’t you draw the queen of diamonds, boy
She’ll beat you if she’s able
You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet

Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get.

Desperado, oh, you ain’t gettin no younger
Your pain and your hunger, they’re drivin’ you home
And freedom, oh freedom well, that’s just some people talkin’
Your prison is walking through this world all alone.

Don’t your feet get cold in the winter time?
The sky won’t snow and the sun won’t shine
It’s hard to tell the night time from the day
You’re loosin’ all your highs and lows
Ain’t it funny how the feeling goes away?

Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?
Come down from your fences, open the gate
It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you
You better let somebody love you, before it’s too late.

–The Eagles

76 Responses

  1. Here!

  2. I looked her up. Not surprisingly, she can accomplish things. She has edited or authored books. An important political figure wrote the intro to a book she edited.

    That’s almost exactly how I pictured her, except I also had her pegged as a college professor with a daughter in Junior High.

    The daughter would have to be perfect, or it would break her streak.

    This is an open thread, btw.

  3. Great question, SOD. Being the *idiot* that I was, and, I fear, always will be, I wasn’t sure the thing I said got back to her. So I came down as judging that an apology might not be technically necessary. So I didn’t apologize.

  4. When in doubt, grovel.

  5. Now I feel like giving Johninca a hug.

    Or slapping him upside the head. I can’t decide.


  6. Regency over there has given me some excellent advice.

  7. Apologize now! Free up that energy – and move on at last. Best of luck.

  8. I repeat it’s an open thread, so we can carry on the political conversation as well. I certainly would feel some comfort if JJJ were to fall over the Blagojevich scandal.

  9. Despite the ,media’s rush to declare that Obama has been exonerated, the trail is pointing his direction..

  10. BTW – “Grovel” is my default position.

  11. Women don’t need “groveling.” Treat women with respect. That’s all. If you mess up, apologize sincerely and accept that the consequences of your screw-up may be big.

  12. I agree – John needs to apologize. The obsession has gone on long enough!

  13. I apologized my whole senior year, by my actions.

  14. Just got this in my email. I am a historian, but not equipped to write what I’d like to on Obama and his war against gay people, women, etc. I thought someone in this group might like to take a crack at one of these.


    The Western Journal of Black Studies is seeking manuscripts for a special issue in Fall, 2009, on president elect Barak Obama and his road to the White House. Articles may focus on any topic including —but not limited to— issues of policy, philosophy, race and racism; the democratic primary and presidential election of 2008; choosing a cabinet; his role as an Illinois and US senator; media interactions; the new technology and marketing strategy; community mobilization as campaign strategy; responses to critical figures such John McCain, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and the Clintons; black liberation theology, internationalism, spirituality, the role of family, etc. Manuscripts should be no more than 30 pages in length, should be accompanied by an abstract, well referenced, and formatted in APA style. Deadline for submissions is June 30, 2009. All submissions to the journal will be double blind reviewed.

    WJBS is a leading international and interdisciplinary journal devoted to publishing scholarly articles that focus on issues related to Continental Africa, the African Diaspora and the experiences of African Americans in the United States. The journal publishes articles and essays that report original investigations and contribute new knowledge and understanding to the field of Black/African American studies. All manuscripts are subject to a double blind review process. We encourage submissions from all scholars, including graduate students. Articles may be submitted electronically as attached email documents or three copies may be sent by regular mail. Under its new mandate, publication decisions generally take no more than eight (8) weeks.

    The Western Journal of Black Studies was founded in 1977 and is one of the oldest and most prestigious publications in the field. The journal is fully owned and operated by Washington State University.

    Contact information:

    E. Lincoln James, Ph.D. professor & managing editor
    The Western Journal of Black Studies
    Washington State University
    Cleveland Hall, Room 70C
    Pullman, WA 99164 ˆ 2103
    Ph: (509) 335 ˆ 3911
    Fax: (509) 335 ˆ 6959
    Email: eljames@mail.wsu.edu

  15. Johninca – by your actions?

    Did you actually say the words to her?

  16. johninca, so the terrible thing you said was that she was perfect???

  17. I like how they lump “the Clintons” together.

  18. “the Clintons” and Jeremiah Wright.

  19. madamab, I was looking for a moment to say I was sorry… but was so terrified to bring it up that I never actually said it.

    but whatever humiliations I got that year, I tried to bear them with perfect mansuetude and without talking back.

    DT, no, that’s not what I said to offend her. I don’t even want to think of what I said. I said so many horrible things that year, it was my worst year ever.

  20. John, dude, what in the heck did you DO?

    (Sorry, I had to ask. I feel like MB – don’t know whether to hug you or slap you.)

  21. scrubs, madam– please, I have been slapped enough. *wink*

    Maybe there’s something to that comparison with the fall of Troy. Out of great tragedy often comes poetry, like Virgil’s Aeneid. Maybe that’s why I’m a poet.

  22. You’d be really surprised how important the words are. Actions simply aren’t enough to acknowledge wrongdoing. Words make it clear that you understand what you did wrong and you’re sorry for it. It puts your actions in context.

  23. Delurking because Johninca, you’ve hit a chord. I was one of those so called “perfect” girls. Good looking, great grades, great manners, great prospects. Outwardly, I had the perfect life, cause, nothing but the perfect life could produce such a “perfect girl”. Behind the facade was another, nearly heartbreaking story, but I was raised never to let anyone know about the family situation. When people talked about me in a negative manner, whether because of jealousy re my grades, or because of my looks or whatever, it invariably got back to me, and it reinforced my internal feelings of utter worthlessness. I would have dearly loved to have just one of those folks come to me and apologize. It’s a long time ago, but your post brought back the memories. BTW, I’m alone – never could handle relationships. Moral of the story….. it may look like the perfect child has a perfect life, but peel back the layers, and you might find soul destroying rot. End of parable.

  24. Absolutely agree with Regency. My husband will know he is in the doghouse b/c I’m cool to him, and says he’s sorry b/c I am mad. But I always say, “But why are you sorry?” If he can’t articulate why he is sorry, he remains in the doghouse.

  25. Re: Princess Caroline and NY Senate seat… This from politico. I love the final paragraph:

    Said Weiner, the Clinton backer and Kennedy skeptic: “I do think you have to not only be willing to be milking cows at the state fair, but you’ve got to like it or at least be very good at acting like you like it,” he said. “If she has the gift of milking cows, it’s been utterly hidden from people of the state of New York.”


  26. You gotta love those outspoken New Yorkers.

    There are some great quotes in that piece.

  27. Here’s someone who’s milking something. COlin POwell will be interviewed by Fareed Zakaria on Sunday and would like Rush to fade into the background:

    “Can we continue to listen to Rush Limbaugh?” POwell asked. “Is this really the kind of party that we want to be when these kinds of spokespersons seem to appeal to our lesser instincts rather than our better instincts?”

    ———-He liked him well enough when he was selling Bush’s war. How many decades has Rush been around?? Now he should go?

  28. Fiddle. In moderation. And I know what I did.

  29. If the girl you misspoke to was even just an acquaintance of Val then it probably got back to her. And if it was really that nasty then it probably “got back” to a much wider audience. Not trying to ruin your day but that’s pretty much how the world appears to work, especially the high school one.

  30. If Paterson wants someone who can raise money then Caroline Kennedy is the right choice but if he wants someone who is going to deliver the goods to his constituents then she is not the right person. Likes to get involved in things but doesn’t like doing the hard work.

  31. John – I think it is not too late to apologize.

    As HT above said, people make assumptions when they don’t know. I never thought I was perfect, but I was good at everything, including grades and modeling in college. My family was not cruel to me – no hardship story there. But my parents would never acknowledge my accomplishments and my older sister, to this day, always puts me down. I thought that being outstanding was not even enough to get some positive attention. Quite a few men have gotten very angry with me when I was nothing but nice to them. I never understood why. I have had some do and say cruel things to me. It still goes on with a bully jerk single male neighbor. I have been stalked, most recently last year. This is all hard to say and makes me feel tired.

  32. Johninca, you are so good with words…why not write her an apology in verse? (Wait a week or so before you send it.)

    After that, let go. She might not answer, but your conscience will be clear.

    Of course, if she does answer…tell us!

  33. Downticket, on December 12th, 2008 at 4:35 pm Said:
    If Paterson wants someone who can raise money then Caroline Kennedy is the right choice but if he wants someone who is going to deliver the goods to his constituents then she is not the right person. Likes to get involved in things but doesn’t like doing the hard work.

    I am not sure that she doesn’t like doing hard work, but that is the issue isn’t it, none of us really know WHAT she likes to do, what she is capable of doing, politically that is, how she feels on issues that are important to New Yorkers, her stand on anything other than barack obama inspires some people like she heard her dad inspired some people.
    She might very well make a great senator, or end up being just a figurehead. As someone else said, Sen. from NY isn’t the right place for on the job training. Not sure if she has ever had the responsibility to handle any employees other than household help, let alone a staff. Has she ever answered to a boss? If not, how does she answer to the citizens of NY?

  34. HT, Fran – Thank you for saying what you said. I know exactly what you mean. It is so easy to look at someone else and think “oh, she has it all,” but you never really know what’s happening with that person unless you scratch beneath the surface. I am sorry for what you both have gone through.


    And I do agree with the others. The words are REALLY important.

  35. madamab – thank you. btw, I gather that your job came through, more or less. I’m glad.

  36. Thanks Fran! It’s still a very tentative situation, but they managed to get me into the firm despite a hiring freeze. I so hope I can continue there – it’s a great company.


  37. Wow… a homie!!

    …Paterson’s praise…of incoming American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, whose name had just surfaced in connection with the seat. Weingarten is Kennedy’s opposite: A tough, street-smart lesbian labor lawyer deeply rooted in urban politics…

    She’s from Rockland County, NY, where I spent most of my former life!


  38. madamab: what type of work do you do?

  39. Sophie – Different types of things in the IT field…I’m doing Intranet development at the firm right now.

  40. I agree with the person who said you should apologize. You may feel actions are a substitute for the words but they aren’t. Furthermore, this girl may have not got through that this was a genuine heartfelt apology instead of believing your actions to be an attempt to curry favor. The bad part about hurting someone is after the fact they can not look at you the same and often judge your actions and measure them by a distorted measuring stick. I do hope you find some measure of peace and I think this woman may take a small consolation in the fact that you learned, from her reaction, to never treat someone like that again.

  41. madamab: I wish you luck. I’ll keep an ear out. I’m in a tech field myself and we’re having a hiring “stall” here as well. I’m in Fairfield, CT and I’m not sure you’d want to travel this far, but…

  42. ainnj, on December 12th, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    From the above article, it states that she worked 2 or 3 days a week and it was parttime. This was back in 2002 when she was the chief executive for the Office of Strategic Partnerships for the New York City Department of Education. She raised a lot of money but was never the driving force on any issue.
    I don’t think she has the same drive and passion for issues as Hillary besides her children told her to support Obama. How cool is that!

  43. Thanks Madamab, it was a long time ago, however, as CWaltz and others have so eloquently written, words matter, and no matter how one tries to ensure others keep secrets, it doesn’t happen. The words always get back to the target.
    BTW, I was involved in the introduction of VPN so am familiar with intranet. I wish you all the best and hope that times have changed since I was one of the 2 women on the development team. Oddly, we two did most of the work, yet were paid the least – go figure, right?

  44. Women don’t need “groveling.”

    They don’t need diamonds either.

  45. Downticket, on December 12th, 2008 at 5:26 pm Said:

    I don’t think she has the same drive and passion for issues as Hillary besides her children told her to support Obama. How cool is that!

    Oh yeah, I forgot about that part, she is such a kewl mom! Good think she has teenage kids and an uncle she adores, (such a saint that guy is too) telling her who to vote for because she has no mind of her own apparently. You would think that as a lawyer and as a daughter, niece and cousin to a president, senators, a governor and various congressional people, she would know about politics and issues concerning this country and decide on who she would support based on that info!

  46. HT, I read your comments and I am so sorry for the things you describe that happened to you. May happiness and fulfillment be yours. A prayer and best wish from the poet.

  47. Thanks, Sophie! I draw the line at commuting to Connecticut – at least for now…

    BTW – I just LOVE Anthony Weiner. He is hilarious. I saw a clip of him from C-SPAN mocking the Republicans relentlessly.

    Stands to reason he is a fan of HRC. 🙂

  48. johninca, on December 12th, 2008 at 3:45 pm Said:
    I apologized my whole senior year, by my actions.

    that is like saying “you know I love you by how I treat you. I’m here aren’t I, making a living and farting under the covers…”

    John, nothing is a sustitute for , “I am sorry, I was an ass”.

    Hey John, do you remember calling the Scranton office for Hillary on PA primary day? I thought you had a great voice and after all these years, get this woman on the phone and tell her that you are sorry and at the very least it might be a fun conversation as you catch up with each other. However, keep in mind that being perfect she may also be married.

  49. myiq2xu, on December 12th, 2008 at 5:34 pm Said:
    Women don’t need “groveling.”

    They don’t need diamonds either.

    True, but if you insist on groveling, it helps to have some diamonds to go with it.

  50. uh oh, I think I am in limbo!!

  51. HT – I am, indeed, one of only two women on the team. Some things never change!

  52. ainnj and myiq – LOL!

    I prefer chocolate to diamonds, personally. Diamonds should be reserved for very VERY special occasions.

    Hubby got me a diamond ring for our 10th anniversary. I never take it off.


  53. OT but I was curious about LIsa Madigans background. Man, Illinois politics really is as crooked and dirty as people say.
    Is there even one politician who doesn’t reek to high heavens there? They all have relatives ensconsed all over the place, union deals, crooked and questionable campaign contributions, etc.
    Unbelievable. Perhaps Canada would be interested in a trade?

  54. It’s open thread so really there is no OT per se.

  55. From wikipedia article about lisa madigan’s dad, michael madigan, the Speaker of the Illinois House of Reps. since 1983 (except for 2 years) and a member of the house since 1971 and the chairman of the Democratic Party of Illinois:

    “Father of Lisa Madigan

    In 2002, Madigan helped his daughter Lisa garner more campaign contributions in her run for Illinois Attorney General than even the candidates for governor that year.[11] At one point, Lisa Madigan’s $1.2 million raised was more than all the attorney general candidates in 1998 had raised, combined.[11]

    During the campaign, allegations of misconduct in campaign contributions arose– Madigan was accused of using taxpayer dollars for political purposes.[1] Republican gubernatorial candidate, Jim Ryan, suggested that Madigan should resign.[1] Madigan’s daughter Lisa was running for state Attorney General during that year’s election and called the allegations baseless.[1] Lisa Madigan’s opponent in the race called on her to pay back taxpayer-paid bonuses her father had paid staffers before they departed to work on his daughter’s campaign.[12] A federal investigation into one of Lisa Madigan’s political endorsements ensued after Madigan allegedly contacted a union boss in Chicago shortly before the union endorsed Madigan’s daughter for the post, but nothing came out of it.”


  56. The Repubs have K Street…the Dems (and some Repubs) have Chicago. It’s really disgusting.

  57. I’m with ya myiq. The whole fabricated diamond industry is just so silly. And the marketing concept of reducing love to a karat is beyond callous.

  58. Anyone that is opposed to diamonds can send any diamonds they have laying around to me. I will set up a diamond rescue center and I will be very kind to them and take them out often.

  59. In other disrespect-to-women news, I just received a postcard announcing the opening of an ‘aesthetic vaginal surgery’ office in Laguna Beach.

    What exactly are they trying to tell me?

  60. Madamab, the more things change, the more they remain the same. If I remember correctly (from previous posts and comments) you are on contract. After too many years in the corporate playpen in a male dominated field (early retirement here), may I suggest that you document everything particularly any bright ideas that may bear fruit (or product development which could result in mega millions for the corp and nada for you cause they stole your idea).

    Johninca, thanks for the kind words, but it was a long long time ago. My point (and Fran’s) was that words do matter…. they hurt, and in some cases destroy, so it’s important to ensure that before one opens one’s mouth, one has carefully thought through the consequences. Not always possible, I know, but a sincere apology goes a long way to aleviating the harm. And it keeps people like me from wishing the ninth circle of h@ll on people who transgressed! And really, we damaged ones are responsible for the course of our lives, because ultimately, we allowed the words to hurt and allowed our lives to alter based on that hurt – just like our transgressors, we didn’t know any better..

  61. ugsome, well, it sure doesn’t sound like the message is that women’s bodies are “naturally” beautiful.

  62. This being my thread, I am going to rule peremptorily that women’s bodies are naturally beautiful, and that the surgery just mentioned sounds dreadful.

  63. For the record, I’m not “opposed” to diamonds. I just think it’s a racket.

  64. OT, but I really had a laugh at this one. I went over to Taylor Marsh today. My first time since the primaries. I wanted to see how the Kool-Aides were taking the Blago stuff. She had an article, that while saying Obama had nothing to do with the sale of the senate seat scandal, mildly criticized his handling of it. The Obot commentators immediately took her apart for critiquing “the one”. One commenter, though, dared to say that Obama had not been thoroughly vetted. The reaction to that comment was to accuse her of being a PUMA. I guess PUMA is what Obots call each other when they want to try to marginalize their arguments.

  65. Damn, Madoff got turned in by his sons.

  66. I must be the rare woman. I haven’t cared for diamonds after I found out the conditions many of them were obtained under. I’m a sucker for breakfast in bed or other thoughtful ACTIONS. I’m also a sucker for books. When my husband feels like he needs to suck up I get dinner out and he takes me to the bookstore(and doesn’t complain no matter how long it takes me to choose something).

  67. good for you, cwaltz– I have read a little about how diamonds are obtained, and should have to say that a concern for humane behavior ought to trump even the beauty of the diamond and a natural desire for it.

    still open thread btw so there is no ot.

  68. Well, the diamond company would have us believe that blood diamonds no longer exist. But I can’t imagine anyone wanting to own one, not even folks who find the over-rated gems attractive.

  69. Some Obot at Swampland commenting on Blago is complaining that Obama hasn’t even taken the oath of office yet and the press is back to Clilnton Rules of Coverage.

    Well, if it’s good enough for Bill and Hillary and Palin, then it’s good enough for Obama. And if even Taylor Marsh is being the tiniest bit critical, this thing just might keep on giving.

  70. Groveling backed up with a true act of contrition works for me. But what do I know: my husband has been in the doghouse for SIX WEEKS and still doesn’t. get. it. How much longer am I going to have to sleep in the guest room before he figures out that when I said hey, get a job, I meant it?

  71. Jadzia: He’ll get it when you make HIM sleep in the guest room.

  72. DYB Re: Weiner’s commentary about Princess Caroline and milking cows – utterly punny!

  73. Diamonds are pretty, but I can take ’em or leave ’em. When I got married my husband asked if I wanted an engagement ring. I said, naaah, we bought property together, and what’s a bigger sign of commitment: a ring or a mortgage?

  74. Diamonds leave me cold as well, but like cwaltz, books will get me every time. Sweetie, though he has no comprehension At All as to why I am lusting after this particular item, is gifting me with it for Christmas. Yeah, he’s a keeper.

  75. Since Honora has established the “diamond rescue center” I feel it is only appropriate that I set up a rescue for the ‘lesser’ stones. I am willing to take in and provide a loving home for any unwanted rubies, emeralds, sapphires and/or pearls, or any combination thereof. Doesn’t matter how old they are or what setting they are in. I will take any and all.

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