That is not a funny line. And this blog piece is not about athletics.
It is about an attitude, my attitude, toward other people, primarily women. And if you care to read on, I am going to trace that attitude to my last two years in elementary school, so that's only 60 years ago.
I can trace my "attitude" to a couple of women then -- a principal I respected greatly, a teacher I harassed constantly. It's the first remembrance I have of what was to be a lifelong pattern.
The #MeToo has my attention and it provides an everyday reminder: Don't be an ass.
Yes, me too. I have been harassed -- but not sexually, just mostly verbally. BUT mostly, I have been the harasser.
Verbal harassment, both toward men and women. Far too often. Physical harassment ... it has happened.
Sexual harassment, yes, to an extent. Depends on how you define it. If inappropriate touching -- innocently touching an arm, a hand, a face, a hug, a rub of the shoulders, to seem friendly -- and out-of-bounds comments are part of it ... then, yes.
Wrong place, wrong time: oh, yeah.
Sexual abuse? I don't think so, but where is the line on "abuse?" If it's verbal, I am more than likely guilty of crossing that line.
You don't need the details; I don't feel like sharing publicly. Not yet, probably not ever. (But if you want to have a private conversation, I will consider that.)
Let me assure this: It has been painful -- for me, for my family, some friends and co-workers, and for those who I offended. Cannot undo the pain and the consequences. There is shame and embarrassment.
But had to move on, and start over, and think about it, and get counseling, and try to do better. Haven't always changed the pattern.
Certainly not bragging about this. No, this is apologizing for crass behavior. I have had to do that so many times.
These were not "power" plays, not with any kind of hold on or real threats to the other person(s). No, mostly, this was stupidity, immaturity, recklessness. Not a good reputation to build or have.
And so, here I am today, at 70, still having to be reminded every day -- my own reminders and the #MeToo reminders.
My reminder: Keep your mouth shut and your hands to yourself. Don't offend, don't be disrespectful, don't make others uncomfortable, don't be an ass.
The women I mentioned above: Ruth Hughen, the school principal; Lyndall Tinnin, my sixth-grade teacher.
Those of us who were kids at Sunset Acres all remember Mrs. Hughen. She was a legend.
She was an educator in Caddo Parish for nearly 50-plus years, the first principal at our school; she was there 15 years, but before that, she was principal at Parkview Elementary (a long foul ball from SPAR Stadium). In fact, I found a 1940 story and she was there then.
Some who had her as a teacher will remember Mrs. Tinnin.
I wrote about them more than five years ago (see link at bottom) when remembering those Sunset Acres years. They are linked to this story.
With the exception of the usual sibling squabbling -- my poor four-years-younger sister -- I do not remember being conscious of how to (not) treat others, male and female, until I was about 10 and, after a tough 1 1/2 years of adjustment from a foreign country to this one, going into fifth grade at Sunset Acres Elementary School.
I was always a high-strung, nervous, temperamental kid, from early on. If it is what you grow up in, it's what you learn.
(But let's be clear; I never learned harassment from my mother or my father. They were very respectful people.)
In that fifth-grade year, I -- well -- kicked one girl (Pam) in the shin. Trip to the office. Got into a verbal spat with another girl (Diane). Trip to the office. Diane has never let me forget that one.
But the teacher that year, Maxie Cooper, was a good one and took special care of a tiny, funny, zany, different kid trying to find his way in America. I liked her, respected her, minded her.
On my trips to the office, Mrs. Hughen was a compassionate, calm counselor. She could read me, and she knew some of my family's background.
Sixth grade, not so much fun. Mrs. Tinnin was a veteran teacher, and probably a good one. But we did not connect, and -- my fault -- I was a troublemaker. Talked too much, yelled too much, would not mind her, left the school ground a couple of times (the house was only a block and one turn away) ... and was sent to the office multiple times.
I can remember her dismay and her often saying, "I beg your pardon ..."
Again, Mrs. Hughen stayed cool and calm with my mother, who apologized profusely.
Sunset Acres kids might be surprised because Mrs. Hughen had a stern outward persona. "I was scared of her," my friend Diane remembered last week, and I am sure that is how many kids felt.
Anyway, I got through the year, but my harassment of Mrs. Tinnin was maybe the first example of how far a line I could cross.
(Nothing sexual then, but at that time, my body was beginning puberty and I remember first being aware of "sex," a young man's fascination with the female body. So the mind went there often.)
It has taken a long, long, painful time -- and painful experiences -- to face up to a major issue.
OK, here is my brain bounces. Knowing I have wanted to write about #MeToo and harassment for a while, I thought of this angle last week while Shreveport researching baseball history online (and on The Shreveport Times microfilm). Decided to try to find the obituaries for Mrs. Hughen and Mrs. Tinnin ... and did. It did not take long. They've both been gone for almost 25 years.
I also found a March 24, 1985, story on Mrs. Hughen by Margaret Martin -- our old buddy from late 1960s/early 1970s days at The Times who is still writing interesting people-in-town/area stories/columns for the paper.
(I have included the two sections of the story).
I knew the subject. I was there the night it happened. I told this story before, but it is pertinent here.
Early in 1985, I saw in the paper that the Sunset Acres PTA was going to honor Mrs. Hughen with a "night." I was sports editor of the Shreveport Journal then, but I went to that night -- and she was as happy to see me as I was her.
I thanked her again, best as I could, for being so kind and compassionate to me. So glad I got that chance.
I was sorry that Mrs. Tinnin was not there that night. Don't think I ever saw her again after the spring of 1959, although she remained at Sunset Acres for another decade.
Never did apologize to her, and I should have ... many times. I saw in her obit that she has several grandchildren. If they somehow see this piece, please know that your grandmother was a good teacher and a fine woman (read the obit), and you should be proud. I am sure they are.
So, harassment ...
Darned right I am paying attention, and I identify, and (again) I apologize to those I offended. Don't know how to make it better other than to keep from repeating my actions.
We should not stop learning and never stop growing mentally, and that is a personal goal.
Mrs. Hughen (Nov. 15, 1992)
Mrs. Tinnin (Dec. 30, 1993)