Tuesday, January 19, 1999

A sleeping potion for cynical reader




BY LAURA PULFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Marty isn't speaking to me. My most enthusiastic critic has been curiously silent, not even a middle-of-the-night raspberry on my voice mail. I hope he isn't sick or, worse, lounging around in some fabulous vacation villa where it's warm and the only salt he sees is on the rim of his margarita glass.

        On the matter of salt and winter complaints, Bill Heis says his 26 years as a Metro driver qualify him to insist that we need salt, salt and more salt. “When it snows, people want the bus on time but before the bus can run the route, the driver has to first get to work.”

        Noted.

The lunacy of snow sports
        Of course, some people — very, very deranged people, in my opinion — like to play in the snow. Skiers, for instance. Michelle Wolf passes along a list of exercises to prepare for the slopes. Among them:

        “Fill a blender with ice, hit the pulse button and let the spray blast your face. Buy a new pair of gloves and throw one away. Place a pebble in your shoes, line them with crushed ice, then tighten a C-clamp around your toes.”

        This sounds like a perfect description of women's dress shoes. Several men disagreed sharply when I said a little rag knotted around your neck is nothing compared to trying to catch a bus wearing 3-inch heels. William F. Bowen wrote:

        “My grandfather called them "chokerags.' Neckties make me feel as if I am being garroted.”

        A female reader from Oxford said she is recovering from foot surgery, a result of “those beautiful shoes I had to wear when I was working.”

Random acts of kindness
        After I asked people to go on record with their promises for the new year, Harold Dates, manager of the Hamilton County SPCA, said, “If we can nurture respect for all life, our community will prosper.”

        He attached a letter he wrote to Anderson Township Assistant Chief Tom Riemar, letting the fireman know that “our combined effort to save a duck from an icy death may not have been the most complicated rescue but I am certain the duck appreciated the effort.”

        And even if the duck doesn't write a thank-you note, the rest of us should be grateful. Because kindness can become a habit. Because goodness is catching. In fact, there's a regular epidemic of it in Sharonville at St. Joseph Home.

        “When we first met Carlos as a newborn,” writes Paul Reid, “the neurosurgeon asked us, "Why are you adopting this child? You know he'll never lift his head or talk or walk.' Later a neurologist at Children's Hospital said, "Remember these kids never read the textbooks. They don't know what they can't do.'

        “The difference between these philosophies makes all the difference in the world. And it is precisely this difference that is demonstrated at St. Joe's.”

        The staff and volunteers, “for little or no pay, are on the front lines with our children, working with infinite patience and love to teach them that the world is not a harsh and cruel place. These are the people who paint with our son, who sing with him every day, who hold him when he cries in the dark and laugh with him for no specific reason other than for the sheer joy of it.”

        Sister Marianne Van Vurst said a packaging manufacturer is going to donate diapers, and several other people have called to volunteer.

        If you're out there, Marty, you must be bored silly. I know how much you despise “goody-goody stories.” Back when you were speaking to me, you said they put you right to sleep. You noted sourly: “Every time you write one of your sob stories, I'll bet the do-gooders just line up.”

        Well, yes, I believe they do, some of them for the sheer joy of it. Sweet dreams, Marty.

        Laura Pulfer's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. E-mail her at laurapulfer@enquirer.com She can be heard Monday mornings on WVXU radio (91.7 FM), and as a regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition and InterMedia's Northern Kentucky Magazine. Her book, I Beg to Differ, is available at (800) 852-9332.