Whiplash: Why Not Get Off Guilty

There are people who think O.J. Simpson is guilty, and there are people who think he is not. But check out the folks in the third camp, the folks who think he killed yet fervently hope he is exonerated. Their mindset (and I've seen them quoted): "Well, I hope he didn't do it, but even if he did, I'd understand, and he shouldn't be punished. We all make mistakes." These people have adopted Simpson's own apparent position: Yes,I did something nasty, but I'm basically a good guy, and I couldn't really help myself, and it wouldn't serve any purpose to imprison me, I'm not going to do something like that again and we can't bring the victims back, after all, and I did love Nicole, and I have some young children who will be putative orphans if I go to the Big House, and I have so many fans pulling for me, and blacks never get a break in this society, and I've already suffered enough, and the police and the prosecutors deserve to lose this one, they've railroaded so many decent people over the years, and besides Hertz needs me." OK, so OJ wouldn't use the word "putative." I'm paraphrasing. These supporters are not, like Nicole's mournful cousin or journalist-hostage Terry Anderson, of the "I'm-a-Christian-so-I-must-forgive" school. No. Their position is extremely creepy. I ask myself--if my beloved older brother, whom I have idolized since I could crawl, killed someone, would I drive the Bronco for him? I might. Serenaded by his lifetime of sagacity and humanism, I might smother the loathsome crime and decide he "deserved" exculpation. But I might also disown him. So how scary are these OJ supporters--they're backing not a sibling but a chimera. A guy they've never met. A head-bobbing pitchman, hip-swiveling Heismanite. A guy who just "seems" so good, so nice. Forgive everyone, forgive no one, or forgive just the people you love; but forgive strangers based on their TV and film personae? Certifiable. Recently I was informed that the difference between caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee is negligible, that decaf is 97% caffeine free and that caffeinated is 94% caffeine free. If the difference is only 3% I might as well drink the caffeine and avoid the chemicals used to extract the caffeine (with the exception of Swiss water process, of course). I have a hard time believing this 3% difference. --Unleaded and Uncertain My readers keep odd company. Why else would I be routinely pelted with "someone told me that" and "a friend of mine swears that" inquiries defying logic, caving to rumor, and courting opprobrium? Or could it be that my readers are--no, not possible--hiding behind fabricated acquaintances? Either way, here's the scoop on this: In a typical five-ounce cup of "regular" coffee, there are 115 mg of caffeine. A cup of decaf has, at most, five. Five, got it? Help your "informer" do the math. Meanwhile, stick with Sanka--curious name, by the way; could you ask one of your sage contacts where it came from (but don't write me, I already know)? I heard from a friend that Virgil Earp, brother of famous Wyatt Earp, is buried on a private estate in Portland, OR. Is this true? --Grave Robber Are you one of those obsessives seeking John Lennon's final resting place (there isn't one), or waiting for the ark's vertebrae to turn up in Turkey? Anyway, your "friend" is partly right: Virg Earp's remains are indeed in Portland, but the former Arizona marshal is buried at River View Cemetery (Lot 18, Section 15), not amid someone's tony tulips. The Oregon Historical Society actually has a copy of the 1905 application for internment. Earp died in Nevada, incidentally, and landed in Oregon post-mortem only because his daughter resided in Portland. And no, I don't know if Butch Cassidy really died in that Bolivia shootout or if Billy the Kid lived to a ripe old age. But I thought Ethel Merman was good in "Annie Get Your Gun." My new boyfriend is giving me a hard time about my nailbiting (I chew mine, not his). He says gnawed nails gross him out. I'd like to stop, but I do it without even realizing. Could a hypnotist help? What if I paint meringue (I hate meringue) on my fingertips? --Finger Sandwiches I hate meringue, too. And join the crowd: The American Medical Association claims that 20% of adults in this country bite their nails (does that mean bite them to the quick, nibble them in rush-hour gridlock, or munch them to the nub only before major holidays? I don't know). Nailbiting is among the sordid array of what the AMA calls "nervous habits." Others are thumb sucking, knuckle cracking, cheek chewing, leg jiggling and the ever-beguiling nose picking. But gird yourself, honey: nail biting is a TOUGH chump to dump. People who've succeeded swear by: wearing nail polish, snapping a rubber band on the wrist each time the biting urge strikes, wearing gloves as often as possible (lovely in mid-summer!), or chewing alternatives (straws, plastic spoons, toothpicks, carpet tacks). If you're a strong-willed type, hypnotize YOURself: picture your fingertips coated with the most repugnant substance imaginable (meringue might be it for you; for others, cat feces suffice). Just keep your hands OUT OF YOUR MOUTH. Punch pillows, twirl pencils, but keep your hands away from your mouth. If you get discouraged, remember what long fingernails (and chemical foreplay) did for Florence Griffith-Joyner. Contact Whiplash by Email (74710.3505@compuserve.com), fax (503-297-6620) or slug mail (822 S.W. 10th, Portland, OR 97205).

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