Eve had a chance and she blew it…”Here honey, take a bite…(Adam) Mmmm, hey, you’re right, it's very good, now Eve you take a bite…(Eve) Naw, it’s not on my diet…” Bam, men out of Eden, take the snake with you, and all that's left is Paradise, with a capital ‘P’..a world without men. Man...what was Eve thinking?

Sometimes, we might actually get what we want, and not what we need. 

I think Mick might understand…perhaps. I know Miss Franki would. But most folks outside Parrot County might not. I’m pretty sure of that. I know because I read the news. 

My all time favorite editorial writer was Miss Franki Holst of the weekly paper The Parrot County Beacon. Her perspective on any topic was thorough; her curiosity addictive; her optimism was inspiring, and she always reminded focused readers not to take life too serious. She challenged you to think about what you believed, and most often it was hard to figure out what her personal position was on any particular topic. 

It was a big turnout at Miss Franki’s funeral. I was there of course even though hate funerals. To distract myself from my lack of comfort in such mortality rights-of-passage, I thought of the Rolling Stones tune, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want…’ playing on the organ to bring a smile in the midst of sorrow, a la the opening of the movie ‘The Big Chill’. 

Franki was a woman’s women, though she had no interest in whether or not others acknowledge that on her behalf. In a confusing world of identity Miss Franki always knew who she was. She didn’t have to ask anyone. She didn’t need to be validated by some fuzzy standard, she didn’t need to be defined. She knew who she was because she lived life with all the freedom a human being could muster, no excuses, no regrets, only lessons by the scars and tributes to show a life well journeyed. 

If the quest for individual freedom is to become a true individual, then Franki won the pot of gold. No one gave it to her, she didn’t steal it…she earned it. She was not like anyone else…but, isn’t that the measure of being a true individual? She was not a statistic, or a victim, or a category. She was just Miss Franki.

While there that day at the funeral I thought about things that Miss Franki had made me think about. Like why most men really don’t like funerals, or weddings, etc. For me it’s too much emotions to manage for a guy always trying to give the impression of being tough and brave-a holdout from my generational upbringing I guess

Today’s men are often admired for any emotional outburst that diminish old fashion male-mores. The image of a man’s man having been successfully extinguished after decades of trying. Finally men have be un-usurped (I always love that word, ‘usurped’, though have never found a good application for it.) 

Sure, why not. After millenniums of men’s failures in every social facet, it’s finally time for men to pay the price. Or, as Ms Franki might be known to say, “Today, men have become women and women have become men…’ 

I think she might be right. I saw the accelerated gender transformation over my lifetime. All anyone had to do is watch television. Every narration needs an archetype villain in order for the story to have a successful plot, the only acceptable villain archetype allowed today, one everyone can agree on, are men. Today men cannot do anything write…ah, ’right’.

Men, the cause of every ill in our culture today some calculate. 

Here, in Parrot County, folks can disagree mightily on any topic and still be friends, sorta. But that is probably due to the fact that culture changes very slowly here in the country, and for good reason. If it ain’t broke, then don’t waste your precious time trying and fix it…there’s always a very long list of things actually broke and really do need to be fixed. Trying to follow social changes in the big cities is quite far down the list around here. Franki reported such, Millie Turnbaugh had a good take on things broken and things fixed.

Last Fall there was a big hoedown to celebrate Joe and Millie’s 70th wedding anniversary. Miss Franki was there and interviewed Millie about the occasion. Joe did’t have much to say and deferred Franki’s initial questions to Millie. That’s the way things are done here, menfolk don’t like to talk for the record fearing they might say something inappropriate. All men learn that nuance sooner or later. Besides, communications is Millie’s job anyways.

It was a nice article with a bunch of pictures of happy folks everywhere. How can folks not be happy with music flowing on the wind, meat smoking of the pit and too many of every side dish imagined. In the text of the article was the kind of a story everyone likes to read. It is the net effect when a woman tells the story of what is happening rather than a man. Near the end of the article Franki ask Millie the cliche question every reporter has to ask, and every reader wants to read the answer…you know…how did the stay married for so long?

Millie’s answer was simple and succinct, “We lived in a time when if something broke, you fixed it.” Implying now we live in a time if somethings broke, like a relationship, you simply throw it out and get a new one.

After the article was published Miss Franki must have thought about this idea on a grand scale and applied it to her final editorial before she died. 

She had left clear instructions that the article should be printed the same issue her obituary ran. She probably wanted to make the point that just because she was dead she still had an opinion about things. 

The opinion was titled, ‘WHY DO WE NEED MEN?’ Everybody heard about it. It was even reported (sic) by national news organizations and social media.

I wasn’t surprised by her angle of the article. I recalled her once telling of a conversation she had while on a panel with other writers, mostly academics-types.

While attending the event titled ‘SOCIAL JUSTICE OR ‘IN’’, a professor from Abbolline College started sniffing around Franki in a conversation trying to profile where her bias lie. “You know,” Franki would often say, “Like a dog does when they sniff around another dog to find out something about them.” 

The professor ask, “What do you think about gender inequality in the work force?”

“In what respect? Franki asked.

“The fact that women make 22% less than a man in the same position, of course.”

Franki loves stuff like this. “Who told you that?” Franki ask cooly.

“It’s a fact…studies have shown…”

“Which studies?” Franki interrupted.

“Well, many studies that verify women…”

“How many?” Franki interrupted.

“What?” the professor asked disoriented.

Franki queried, “Can you name ten studies that show this…or five…or even just one?”

“Well,,” the professor defended, “Not here…with me…but everybody knows it’s true.”

“Everybody,” Franki questioned, “Can you name some of these everybodys?”

The professor’s attempt at being pleasant quickly vanished as she decided to take charge of the discussion. After all, she had degrees, she reads stuff, she knows stuff, “Well anyone who is anybody knows this to be true.” she pontificated.

“Look," Franki said as if she was channeling the perspective of a small child, "I think you believe that but I don’t think you really know what you are talking about. You need to get out more, travel outside your comfort and talk to real people. If you are interested in what is really going on, you need to experience the vast array of opinions everyone else has. The opinions you relish are really a bunch of trite in the larger sense of things that you just heard somewhere. You seem to feel comfortable with what you believe, working hard to defend you own sense of reality when in fact you work hard to shun any evolving truth about the world around you.” 

Feeling secure with what you think you already know is the most dangerous state of mind a writer can have. If you have opinions, back them up in your own words, your own ideas, not ones you read somewhere.”

Luckily the professor didn’t have a gun, knife or anything that would cause bodily harm; she easily felt justified in murdering Miss Franki; someone so dangerous.

Later on another member of the panel came coyly up to Frankie. “ Hello…I couldn’t help but overhear your earlier conversation with Professor Brink. Surly you support gender equality?” 

Miss Franki looked over her glasses at a small, serious man. She was certain she could easily throw him across the room.

“Why would a woman want to be equal to men?” She asked as if she was questioning why one might put garlic in a cheese sauce. “Women are superior to men in so many ways. What reason could you possibly have to want to stoop and become like a man?”

“Well,” answered the man-who was also a professor-“I believe the point Professor Brink was aiming at was inequality in pay…because…”

“Do you mean to tell me that women want to become like men because they want money?”

He tried hard to rebut, but Franki’ never gave him an opening. All he could muster was, “Well, shouldn’t a woman who is doing the same…job” 

“Why?” Franki was controlling the rhythm of the discussion. “It’s likely a job that a man created.”

This little professor man frustrated blurted, “ The point is…”

Franki stopped him and gave that glance she does sometimes, you know…like a parent does; when a child talks back and the parent gives that look; a look without a word, and the child knows they have lost whatever position in an argument they thought they had.

Franki summarized her point she wanted the man to ponder, “If a woman wants to make more money than a man, she should create new professions. Woman are much smarter than men. We shouldn’t have to make our way to success by taking away a career that was created by a man. Women are much more than that. We are free to do anything we want in life. Why waste a life trying just to make money and make yourself like a man?” 

That little man didn’t have a weapon either, or he surely would have used it.

I thought of that story at Franki’s funeral. I don’t think it was so much that she was passionate about a particular position than to challenge someone else’s doctrine that wasn’t really their own.

I figure Franki was just exercising her professional standard as a editorial writer; one she developed over many years of trying to get it right. Eventually, learning that you not so much ever learn to get it right than you develop a standard of what not to get wrong. A writer’s role is to make readers think, not what to think. 

On Miss Franki’s final opinion article, she tickled a number of brains.

In her usual space on page 2 stood the title in bold letters, “WHY DO WE NEED MEN?”

In place where her usually 1200 words stood was only white space; blank; nothing. An image rarely seen in newspapers cluttered in an arrays of gray revealed only emptiness. 

Someone might think it was a printer’s mistake. Some might think it was a joke like a Boston newspaper reported; like there is NO reason we need men. Others thought it was the newspaper eulogizing its star writer.

I don’t know, I think I knew her. I think she did what she always wanted to do: Tickle your brain on a subject, make you think in ways other than the obvious answer, and begin to create your own opinion. Let you fill in the blankness.

 

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