The Corner


Say Hey

Willie Mays, the “Say Hey Kid,” smiles while a student sits with the World Series trophy in New York, January 21, 2011. (Shannon Stapleton / Reuters)

I have an Impromptus column today, which begins with a note on “red” America and “blue” America. This note, while serious, becomes an ode to Cracker Barrel. (And that is serious, too.) I also have a note on Stalin, who is in the news, oddly. Then there is Trump iconography, a strange world. Etc.

Part of the etc. is feelings. “F*** your feelings” is a slogan, or cry, of this age. At the same time, we are told to respect the feelings of those who believe the election was stolen from them. What should we make of feelings, in politics and in life? This is a subject for books — many of them — but a mere note can be worthwhile.

Anyway, lots to chew on — or spit out — in today’s Impromptus.

Time for some mail. The below note responds to an item I had in my column on Monday:


In 1996, Diana, Princess of Wales, made a visit to Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. My daughter, who was a big fan, and I drove over to the campus from our home nearby and, much to our surprise, there were just a handful of people in attendance as Diana toured a newly installed sculpture garden.

We were within a few feet of this spectacular woman and I did take some very nice photos that we treasure to this day. I can assure you, however, that her beauty and grace in person far, far exceeded any images I have ever seen of her.

No doubt.

This one relates to something I had in a column last week:


. . . I spent about a year at a U.S. embassy in a Middle Eastern country. The State Department likes to hire locals to do staff work, in offices where we don’t need secrecy. One of my favorite things to do while I was at the embassy was grab a coffee from the little snack bar in the chancery and then stand outside and watch the locals come through the gate for work.

The ladies were dropped off, in niqab or even full burqa, by male relatives. Once they were through security, however, and safely out of sight of their family, almost all of the ladies ducked into the restroom, to reemerge in Western attire. Skirts or pantsuits. Heels. Makeup and hair done.

It always tickled me.

I want to be very clear: I’m not saying they dressed inappropriately or flaunted their bodies. No, these were nice, professional, business-casual clothes. They just took advantage of being unsupervised to express their own sense of style. It was inspiring, in a way.

Last, a friend writes of the need for lightness or charm — some sparkle — amidst gloom. “I’m reminded of my San Francisco Bay Area days when Willie Mays advertised on the radio for Saxon apple juice: ‘It puts a smile on your kiss.’ And it did, every time I heard him.”


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