This morning as I was reading the sports section in the newspaper I was confronted by an example of an issue I had considered writing about today. That happens a lot, I’ve noticed. There is something on my mind and suddenly, supportive encouragement pops up everywhere I look. It’s nice. Makes me feel in sync with the universe.
Dodgers beat writer Andy McCullough – whose regular coverage I find to be better than the norm – chronicled last night’s ballgame, during which a Pirates pitcher threw a “slider” a Dodgers hitter connected with for a grand slam home run.
Although working under a punishing deadline, chronicling the major contributor to the Dodgers’ 12-1 victory McCullough took time to show a caring compassion for the defeated.
He dubbed the pitch lofted out of the ballpark “pitiable.”
Not “pitiful.” Not “inconceivably awful.” Not “My Aunt Fannie can do better and she’s got arthritis.”
I am reminded of the lyric from the song “Pancho and Lefty” that goes,
“Pancho needs your prayers, its true
But save a few for Lefty too…”
The Dodgers received the advantage. But the player providing it was a person.
So you know what I did first thing before writing this, which, as I said, I had kind of intended to do but the word “pitiable” seal-the-dealingly said, “Do it”?
I went back to yesterday’s post – written somewhat earlier – and I softened the adjectives.
Overall lowering the vituperative flame, my original effort being best described as “The Wrath of Thor.”
I don’t know what got into me yesterday. Sometimes, you just get in these pitiable moods. You see what I did there? I cribbed Andy McCullough, letting myself compassionately off the hook. Kind of stylish, don’t you think? Maybe not, if the object of your generous consideration is you.
I was writing about the rookie TV series Bull, which I thought at first was a winner but as I kept watching went continually downhill.
And boy, was I angry!
I didn’t even sound like myself. Yesterday’s published product remains essentially what I believe; I just went back and took the turpentine out of the water. (That may not mean anything but I really like how it sounds.)
I don’t know, I guess I get mad at myself when I get fooled, and I take my negative feelings out on the “fooler.” At first, Bull felt excitingly like a “keeper.” Then I cut open the fish… okay, I’m a little manic, here, due to my still smoldering at the deception. Which could have actually been self-deception. Maybe Bull was always what it was and I bamboozled myself into believing it was better. Noticing its progressive decline could have been me, coming belatedly to my senses.
But did I have to be so hurtful about it?
Just to prove I am not necessarily that guy – or at least not always necessarily that guy – I offer a brief anecdote that exemplifies the opposite.
A family member solicited my advice, concerning his serious disagreement with his parents over the last, lamented presidential election. His question was, should he set their political differences aside in the name of family cohesiveness or should he stick to his ideological guns, maintaining an ostracizing separation?
The words emerging from my mouth in response to his conundrum were these:
“The question is, ‘Who do you want to be like, and who do you not want to be like?’”
Truth be told, I have rarely expressed myself with such illuminating sensitivity. Truth also be told, however, I have rarely been as aggressively hostile as was reflected in yesterday’s original version of the post, which, now revised, is hardly a valentine, but you should have seen that poisonous diatribe before.
Accuracy defines accuracy. There’s an immutable standard for telling it – for you, at least – exactly like it is.
But then there are the adjectives, the adverbs, the metaphors and the analogies. Words that qualify, shave the edges off the extremes, words that, without selling yourself down the river, take considerate thought for their intended target.
There is more than one way of telling the truth.
… is what I’m saying.
Every writer works hard and does the best they know how.
Yesterday, I neglected to think about that.
I shall try to improve on my performance in the future.
Not to do so…
Would be pitiable.