Whiplash

He's a nice guy. The sort of guy you'd count on in a crisis, as many people DID during his years as a paramedic. He's bright, too, and funny, and creative, and horrified by injustice, cruelty, and all those things that enrage compassionate, aware humans. He works hard -- long hours at a stressful, often thankless job. He's great with computers, nimble with words, feisty in righteous crusades. He has passionately devoted friends and the jaunty loyalty of his constant companion Buckwheat, pound dog turned canine confidant. Yep, he's a terrific guy. But there's something you don't know about him, something you would glean only if you saw the numerous body scars. He's a masochist. Like most people, he wants a loving, vibrant, and generous partner, someone with whom to watch movies, eat pizza, and sleep late on Sundays. But he wants her to wear stiletto heels not because of the way her legs look but because of what those sharp heels can do to flesh. He likes a little pain with his pleasure. And he's frustrated. He thinks that when activists talk about tolerance, they should include him and his ilk. He thinks when people protest bigoted ballot measures they should talk also about HIS minority status, his disenfranchisement. Instead, he reads in his local major newspaper that he is "sick." "Sick," a term politically incorrect people still use for homosexuals. He resents this. He didn't choose his preferences; he doesn't think they are in any way injurious to society. He doesn't want counseling for his "problem." He doesn't want any chanting coalition, either -- only an end to pejorative, ignorant stereotypes and name calling. So just why DO many people find his "drives" unacceptable? Is it because the popular image of a "sadist" is so horrifying? Is it because we cannot believe that such "deviant" habits won't lead to despicable CRIMES? Or is it simply because his preferences are so ALIEN to many of us that we can't find room even in the "indifferent" region of our brains? Buckwheat will provide references, but what about you, readers, what do YOU think? Tell me -- and while you're at it, tell me what I think.I have heard that women, by any objective statistical standard (fewer accidents, fewer speeding tickets) are better drivers than men. So why is it that whenever I see a driver do something patently stupid (stopping before making a right turn on Broadway by the Coliseum here in Portland, for example) 9 times out of 10 it's a woman? -- Motoring MisterStopping at that turn is not "patently stupid." A sign warns drivers to yield to pedestrians, and there are MANY pedestrians at that intersection, usually because myopic, moronic MALES are on their way to a TrailBlazer game and...wait, wait, I didn't mean to write that. Seriously. If there were an accident at that turn, it would be a man's car slamming into the back of the WOMAN's car after she "stupidly" paused to look for pedestrians. But are women "better" drivers? You tell me: Stats from the National Safety Council demonstrate that in a fatal accident the driver is far more likely to be a male than a female (in 1993, male drivers died in 40,400 accidents, female drivers in only 13,500). But are those guys dying because they drive too fast, because they don't wear seatbelts, because their brakes fail -- or because their cars are hit by cars driven by WOMEN? You should wonder, because FEMALE DRIVERS HAVE A HIGHER INVOLVEMENT RATE FOR ALL AUTO ACCIDENTS. The 1993 numbers: Per 10 million miles, 101 accidents involved female drivers and only 87 involved male drivers. But again, in how many instances were those accidents the FAULT of the female drivers? The stats don't tell. Factors are myriad: type of driving, type/condition of vehicle, time of day, weather and road conditions, age of driver. But alcohol is a factor in nearly 50% of auto-related fatalities and 18% of serious injury auto accidents, and "speed" is the chief non-alcohol factor in major crashes. So I say ride with a woman, keep her sober, and bail out if she gets too chummy with the accelerator. At my bank are prominent signs announcing that I get a dollar if the teller fails to call me by name. Where did this quaint idea originate, and what do you the inimitable Whip think of it? -- First-Name BasisI despise it. I always tell customer service people I'll pay THEM if they DON'T use my name. And lo, at my local Safeway I am now entitled to free ice cream if I don't hear my name from the mouth of that grinning stranger behind the UPC scanner. Arrrgggh! Nothing makes me more suspicious or uneasy than gratuitous forms of address. Tom Hopkins and Zig Ziglar and every "how-to-sell-anything-to-anyone" expert will tell you that people love nothing more than the sound of their own names (not true here) and that if you want to cajole them you will teach yourself to speak this way: "Now Barbara, as you can see, this particular system comes with more options than the lower-priced model, BARBARA, and I know that you, BARBARA, appreciate enhanced quality in your electronics investments because BARBARA you have a discerning intellect and BARBARA, trust me, BARBARA, you and I think along the same lines BARBARA and you will now, BARBARA, hand over your credit card so you can take this handsome unit home right now BARBARA and begin enjoying it this very night, BARBARA, I just can't say your name enough in fact I am going to have it tattooed on my chest BARBARA!" I spoke with a rep at the one bank I know of that uses this gumdrop, and she said the company-wide initiative (which is implemented on a branch-by-branch basis, at the discretion of each manager) arose from numerous "marketing studies" demonstrating that people like to be called by name, that they choose businesses where they feel "comfortable," and that the name calling communicates "friendliness." Sure: Tell that to all those anti-OJ witnesses who were so unctuously addressed by the ever-so-sincere Johnnie Cochran.Do you think when they design and name schools that the better presidents should get nicer buildings? -- Doing Detention Yep. Let's get Lincoln and FDR some palatial stone edifices with glorious artistic carvings. WH Harrison and Franklin Pierce can have Quonset huts. And the better people should get the nicer jobs, the better proposals the faster passage, and the better songwriters the awards (Springsteen??? Springsteen??? Oscar AND Grammy? Puh-leeeeze!!!). Contact Whiplash by Email (74710.3505@compuserve.com), fax (503-297-6620) or slug mail (4119 S.W. 58th Avenue, Portland, OR 97221-2081).

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