My most faithful critic, Marty, is worried about my health.
''Do you have PMS all the time?'' he says in his familiar growl. ''Or just on the days you write your stupid column.'' I am pleased to note that there is no known medical reason for my stupidity.
Marty, who prefers voice mail to an actual conversation, is checking in with his opinion on Reds CEO Marge Schott's latest dustup with Major League Baseball. ''She shoulda been punished,'' he says, ''for being stupid in public. Like you.''
Kick in the teeth?
More specifically, he thinks the Reds should have a new stadium and that ''she's just coming up with this new idea because it's cheap.'' Mrs. Schott said she wouldn't mind playing in a renovated Cinergy Field and was fined for talking about it to reporters.
Bob Sowder of Liberty Township writes that the reported $10,000 fine is a ''major kick in the teeth to civil liberty. She has a right to the same freedoms given to all the other controversial people and organizations around the United States.''
Some readers admire Mrs. Schott, and others say it's bigger than this one woman and her business. ''I am not a fan, but I am an American,'' says Marilyn Brown of Hyde Park. ''And fair is fair.''
A Clifton woman says, ''Marge never would have been suspended in the first place if she'd been a man.''
Marty thinks he has the definitive answer to this. ''Like most women,'' Marty says, ''Marge can't keep her mouth shut. And she doesn't know anything about baseball. You ladies should stick to something you know about. Like cooking.''
This is probably a good excuse to bring you up to date on goetta.
The goetta report
Something about this pork and oatmeal dish apparently makes a person want to fry it up, eat it, then talk about it. At least, this has been my most recent experience. After I wrote about a plan to bring this local delicacy to the rest of the world, I learned more about people's goetta than I actually wanted to know.
Glier's Meats took it to Louisville - where ''goetta is on fire,'' according to sales manager Don Froge. These nouveau goetta people probably are just slapping it down next to their eggs in the morning. Not us. We have been eating this German delicacy long enough to experiment, to eat outside the box, so to speak.
''Pour Karo dark syrup over it,'' advises Marcia Perez Richardson of Madisonville. Another reader slathers his with grape jelly. A gentleman from Ross Township says he makes his own because the commercial kind has ''something funny in it. Sage maybe.'' And he says the only way to eat it is on white bread with ketchup.
''Many local grocers and butchers make their own,'' writes George Hamberg of Fort Thomas. He recommends Avril & Son downtown, and JB Bar-B-Q Pit in Elsmere.
Ed Bracke of Bracke Meats and Produce in Mount Lookout Square claims anybody can make goetta if he follows the recipe on the bag of Dorsel's Pinhead Oats. ''Just stir constantly,'' he says.
Well, Ed, that's kind of my motto.
''Thanks for sticking up for us,'' says Judy Connerman of Delhi Township after I noticed that the au pair in Massachusetts has little to do with the everyday lives of most working mothers.
''I know I have to support my kids, that nobody else will,'' says Vanessa Alcorn, who is going to school and working. ''I just don't want them to suffer for mistakes I made.''
Only the coldest, Marty-esque heart would want that. Right? So maybe we can help you help your kids. Just temporarily. Day care. Something practical. A leg up.
WCIN radio's Lincoln Ware found a car and car seats for Celine Wadley, whose little boys wandered away from the woman watching them while their mother went ''from welfare to work.''
Mr. Ware says he believes there are some good people out there. And he just kept stirring until he found them.
Sounds like a good recipe to me.
Laura Pulfer's column appears in The Enquirer on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 768-8393 or fax at 768-8340. She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 FM), and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition.