It finally ended.
Yes, I refer to the election. The endless stream of TV ads with candidates exchanging insults and improbable promises for public service are gone with the wind, as it were.
The winners are exulting. The losers, mostly Democrats, are licking their wounds. The news media are guessing what went wrong for the losers and what went right for the victors.
My condolences for the losers, not just for the millions of dollars (even though primarily other people’s money) they spent. What about the inward wounds of losing? Losing hurts, whether it’s losing a game of marbles or an NCAA basketball final.
I never think of losing without remembering Pat Conroy’s classic description of what losers feel.
In his “My Losing Season,” he writes:
“Loss hurts and bleeds and aches. Loss is always ready to call out your name in the night. Loss follows you home and taunts you at the breakfast table. ...You have to make accommodations and broker deals to soften the rabbit punches that loss brings to your life.”
So let the election losers weep in their Gethsemane of defeat. We must grant them that release, with respect and compassion.
An ode to gas logs
At the first chill of winter, I turned on the gas logs in the den fireplace.
When we first had them installed, I missed the mystique of the wood fire that has warmed man since time began.
I mused over the hundreds of wood fires I’ve built.
Gas fires don’t crackle and snap as wood fires do when you lay a log of hickory on them. I smile as I remember chasing down the wood bugs that raced across the hearth and onto the carpet as the first flames flared up.
During my childhood, we had wood fires only in the kitchen and sitting room, although there were six fireplaces in the big old farmhouse. Sometimes, my brothers would build one in the “courting room.” On cold nights, my mother would heat flatirons on the hearth, wrap them in towels and send us off to our cold upstairs beds with heated irons to put at our feet.
It was the man of the house’s chore to build the morning fire, using splinters of rich pine kindling and corn cobs to get it going. He then would dive back under the covers and snuggle until the room warmed.
Wood fires are prettier, each kind of wood giving off a different colored flame.
But I’m happy to trade all the wood fire nostalgia for a fire that appears as if by magic when I press a single button at the fireplace’s edge. Also, nobody has to take out ashes or chase wood bugs across the den floor.
I have not seen a squirrel on my premises for days on end. I am confounded by this phenomenon, as well as grateful.
“They’re all at my house,” my friend Barbara Parramore says, “dining on the biggest crop of acorns in years.”
Ah, yes, as is often the case, one person’s blessing is another person’s curse.
Speaking of losing seasons, the Carolina Panthers are suffering through one.
In a recent Panthers’ lopsided loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the quarterback committed four turnovers and was sacked nine times.
I kept wondering why the Panthers didn’t change quarterbacks. Then I remembered what one of the guys in our sports department once said years ago, surely tongue in cheek: “You just don’t do that. You don’t humiliate the regular guy in front of his relatives and girlfriends, even if it means losing the game.
“How would you have felt, if in your prime, the editor had replaced you on the statehouse beat with a young hot-shot J-school grad and assigned you to covering the watermelon seed-spitting contest at the Farmer’s Market?”
Such compassion and humanity does not often prevail in today’s “win at all costs” athletic contests.