Tuesday, January 6, 1998

1997 Woman of the Year

Past Winners:
1992: H. Ross Perot
1993: St. Francis of Assisi
1994: Newt Gingrich
1995: Cal Ripken Jr.
1996: The Dole Campaign

Back in junior high I wasn't the ultra- popular people person that now stands in front of you. The rough edges of my personality had yet to be smoothed off. If there was one word people used to describe me back then it was "eccentric." I was more a social caterpillar than butterfly. But I was still able to enjoy the romance of the century. Too bad she didn't realize it at the time.

I remember one particular afternoon when we were all scampering to find our buses in the middle of a torrential downpour. I passed her as she was trying to cover her head with her books. I was skipping along and I broke into a killer version of my best Gene Kelly imitation. Splashing and joyfully in love I began to bellow, "I'm singin' in the rain, just singin' in the rain. What a glorious feeling, I'm happy again..." She smiled at me and cackled. When around her I often felt like breaking into song. A few days later she wrote in my yearbook, "You're awfully strange but a lot of fun to be around..." which until this past fall was the nicest thing anyone had ever said or written about me.

The defining moment in our relationship however was toward the end of the year in our gym class' track and field unit. We were lined up against one and other as the first runners in the four hundred meter relay. She glanced over at me and said, "Take it easy on me," knowing I was a speedy little runner. When the starter's pistol sounded I was off like a shot and I heard her let out a snort of a giggle. "Geez," she exclaimed. She put her head down and tried to keep up.

I've never run faster on my little Mama Cass legs in my life. I was way out ahead of her and I didn't realize until it was too late that there was something very symbolic about the race. I was running away from her full speed just like I would continue to do all throughout our high school years. I grasped the baton tightly and looked up ahead. It was then I noticed the person I was supposed to hand-off to was nowhere in sight. My opponent's partner stood hand held behind him for the exchange but the second runner on our team was far off to the side talking with her friends. When I got to the spot where I was supposed to be done and my teammate was supposed to begin I just kicked it up a notch and kept running.

Problem was I had not paced myself to run further than 100 meters. I was out of gas and my legs quickly turned to jelly. My "friend" now approaching her hand-off duties began to laugh. I was too tired to realize the life lesson being taught to me: Life is not a sprint, it's more of a marathon where those who pace themselves and endure don't burn out too quickly and are the ones who succeed. Just when you're expecting someone to be there for you sometimes they are not in sight so you just have to keep running and hopefully you may even have someone else by your side.

I shared this tale with the other members of the committee that selects the newsletter's annual Woman of the Year. I tried to convince them that this made me an expert on all matters female. They weren't biting (which is more than you can say about Marv Albert, Mike Tyson and Christian Slater- other members of the committee). Thus my input in the process was limited. I must say this year's list of candidates was impressive. The vast publicity went to Princess Di whose admirers poured out so much emotion that it became both one of the year's saddest and most uplifting stories. There was also Mother Teresa whose death was unfortunately almost overlooked because she happened to choose the wrong weekend to die and didn't photograph as well as Diana. Consideration was also given to Janet Reno who showed she was the only member of the administration who has a backbone despite what her opposition says.

But in the end the choice seemed almost too clear cut to comprehend. Rarely does anything come so easy or obviously to most members of the committee. When the history of the year is written one story will in all likelihood be the longest lasting. The winner of the 1997 Woman of the Year has nothing unique about her. You might go so far as to say she might as well be someone else. But the story of Dolly the cloned sheep represents all that this newsletter stands for: searching for answers that aren't there to be found and are too philosophical to bother to worry about too much. The implications don't matter so much as long as there is a shred of justification to proceed. Why think things through? Just do it. Hello Dolly and congratulations.

A special newsletter thank you goes to the person who sat down and "interpreted" our article of two weeks ago. I was quite touched and more than a little impressed with the effort and that she got into the 'it's only for fun' spirit.

No comments: