I know. I know. I should be writing about Important Stuff: the
sins of Bill Clinton and all his relatives, the latest skirmish in the war
between President Bush and the English language, and so on.
But I've spent the last several weeks trying to sort out my
thinking about that letter to the editor of the Journal-Star. You know
the letter I mean.
The one from the lady who's upset about the girl wrestler in the
State Wrestling Meet and this newspaper's coverage of her.
What upset the lady was that the girl wrestler wasn't wrestling
other girl wrestlers. She was wrestling boy wrestlers.
"Have we degenerated so far from God's plan for individuals and
families that the author of the article did not even feel it necessary to
explore the problems of females wrestling males?" the lady wondered.
My inner smart aleck tempts me to say that back in my day,
male-female wrestling was seen as an important part of God's plan for
individuals and families. Why else would She have created back seats?
My inner smart aleck is a holdover from the early fifties when I
was studying to be Errol Flynn. I was trying to break into the game
gradually by learning how to lose my balance and thus accidentally cop a
feel of my date's bosom with my elbow.
"Or do we no longer object to males grabbing at females in
unmentionable parts of their bodies?" the lady letter-writer further
asked. "If anyone wonders what I am talking about, take a good look at
the picture in the article."
Dirty old man that I now am, I take a good look. The boy wrestler
and the girl wrestler are all tangled up, but neither seems to be grabbing
at the other's unmentionable parts.
The girl wrestler has one hand grabbing at the back of the boy
wrestler's shoulder and the other grabbing at his elbow. (The elbow he's
just copped a feel with?) He has one hand grabbing at the back of her
shoulder and the other not grabbing at anything at all that I can see.
Neither seems far gone in carnal ecstasy.
They look as if carnal ecstasy is the last thing on their minds.
She appears grimly determined to pin him so that she can raise her arms
triumphantly over the wreckage of his supine form and shout "I am Woman!
Hear me howl!" He looks distraught: not only is he getting girl cooties
all over himself, he may have to explain to his father how he got pinned
by the gentler gender.
So my guess is that the lady letter-writer is overinterpreting the
Journal-Star photo. My guess is that her overprotective maternal gene has
just kicked in and she's imagining threats to the girl wrestler's virtue.
I can identify with the lady letter-writer.
My overprotective paternal gene kicked in about the time my daughter
reached puberty several decades ago. Had she shown me a photo of herself
wrestling with a boy, I'd have had a hemorrhage. I was, for about ten
years, slightly mad.
The Truth, Mainly
And I think I just caught a glimpse of the future.
I have two granddaughters, Lovely Little Leslie Jo and Mari the
Marvelous, ages 9 and 8. They can probably outwrestle any 8 or 9-year-old
boys in the neighborhood. But in a few years, my overprotective
grand-paternal gene will kick in and the idea of a boy wrestler putting a
half nelson on my granddaughter will make me a foaming lunatic.
But no matter what our overprotective maternal and paternal and
grand-maternal and grand-paternal genes tell us, I'm guessing that the
lady letter-writer and I aren't going to win this one.
Because we live in Nebraska.
Nebraska, you'll remember, just last fall passedby a whopping
70-30 marginAmendment 416. You remember what it said: "The uniting of
two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or
other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in
My guess is that the lady letter-writer's letter has already put
in motion the inexorable logic of the Religiose Right and it goes
something like this:
Wrestling, we now know, is a sport that allows participants to grab at
unmentionable parts of one another's bodies. Thus we cannot condone
same-sex wrestling where same-sex opponents have ample opportunity to grab
at unmentionable same-sex parts. The only proper wrestling match is one
between a male and a female.
Their solution, I'm guessing, will be another change in the state
constitution: Amendment 417.
It'll read "The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a wrestling
match shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska."
And one more guess: if you put a sufficiently homophobic spin on
it, 417 would pass by as much as, say, a 70-30 margin.
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail