Tuesday, December 04, 2001

Tough talk about war, reputation

        Marty thinks I might have a point. This makes us both uneasy.

        My most ardent critic has been turning up on voice mail for six years like a canker sore, with some regularity but no predictable cause. Sometimes he'll announce himself with an explosive raspberry. Sometimes he is less eloquent.

        “I hate to say this, but you are right about the Olympics being a stupid reason to give Osama a break,” he growled. This was after a column about the International Olympic Committee's request that the war in Afghanistan be put on hold during the Salt Lake Games.

Flogged with crinoline

        Most people who disagree with me are lots smarter and nicer than Marty. In the same “War Games” column, I was disrespectful to ballroom dancing and table tennis, which have been added to the Olympic roster. A very polite man telephoned to warn me that the “ballroom dancing community is up in arms.”

        I have a mental picture of being flogged with crinoline. Or, maybe I'm thinking of square dancing. “It's very athletic,” the man says. And he signs off hoping I will have a nice day. (Marty usually signs off with an anatomical command that I lack the flexibility to perform.)

        Table tennis athletes sound as though they could do more damage. “Some can hit the ball 100 mph,” says Eric Stoini of Forest Park. “This is a real sport, difficult to master. If you saw some of these people play, you'd be surprised it wasn't added years ago.”

        After the most recent battle in the ubiquitous war between the Bengals and public opinion, Fred Tivin of Finneytown came up with a solution to the potential for damage to grass from kids marching in what he calls the Paul Brown Bird Sanctuary: Maybe each fan could donate a small piece of sod from his front lawn.

Sarah and Ronan

        In a completely unrelated matter, Miss Sarah Phillips of Fairfield has dropped the other shoe. A black patent leather Mary Jane, to be exact. Sarah, who suffered a stroke in the womb and was born less than four years ago with numerous other physical challenges, is a lover of music. Her particular favorite is Ronan Tynan, one of the Irish Tenors. “I luff him,” she says.

        Thanks to Sarah's grandmother, Ruth Phillips, who brought her to the attention of Enquirer readers who passed along word to Ronan's fan club, Sarah and her family were Mr. Tynan's guests at a concert in Columbus last weekend. Backstage, her idol took her on his lap and kissed her. “Like a true groupie,” Ruth says, “she just sat and giggled. I will go to sleep in the arms of God for many nights with the vision of Sarah's beautiful little face as she caught sight of him.”

        And I felt a tiny glow of reflected joy, extinguished by a new message from Marty, who never fails to bring me back to reality. About Sunday's column, which mentioned the damage to our reputation by links with Jerry Springer, Marge Schott and Larry Flynt, he says, “Marge is a great American and has done more for this city than you ever will, you idiot.”

        Furthermore, Marty still thinks I might have a point, but he says maybe nobody will notice if I wear a hat.

        E-mail lpulfer@enquirer.com. Past columns at Enquirer.com/columns/pulfer.


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