Friday, August 26, 2005

Weighing in on Dr. Bennett

I've got a little problem that I've been mulling over, and it's something that's been bugging me for a while. I've even posted, albeit obliquely, about it here. It's about THE TRUTH.

I have no problem with THE TRUTH. In almost all cases, I find it preferable to LIES. I expect it from my elected officials, my students, my boss, and my colleagues. I demand it from my family and friends. I do not hide from it.

At the same time, I recognize that there are ways of telling the truth that are more acceptable than others. As a teacher, I know not to tell a parent that his/her child is as dumb as a box of rocks and has about as much ability as the box to speak another language. While that may be the truth, and I may mean every word of it, I'd never say it, as neither the student nor the parent will feel motivated to succeed and will only feel humiliated and demeaned. The poor parent has to know that his/her child is not the brightest crayon in the box - why rub it in by being unneccessarily blunt? Theres this little-known faculty called tact that I've developed over the years. There are some, apparently, whose tact could use a little honing.

And now we come to the crux of my rant this morning: it doesn't matter if what someone says is THE TRUTH, if how they say it is hurtful and demeaning. People will absorb the hurt long before they acknowledge the truth behind it. This is something that I've been trying to teach the WCM for years. Now, instead of saying "Jesus Christ! Your ass is huge!" he'll say "Sweetie, those pants really don't flatter your heinie." Same truth, different phrasing, world of difference.

Why this rant?

Dr. Terry Bennett and the kerfuffle over his remarks to a patient.

Over the last 2 weeks or so, I've read bloggers coming out of the figurative woodwork railing against the woman who dared file a complaint against the tactless practitioner. While I don't feel that a lawsuit is appropriate, and that she should definitely change doctors, I feel her complaint was completely justified.

The doctor's side of the story (from the New Hampshire Union Leader ):

Dr. Terry Bennett, who practices in Rochester, said he has "an obesity
lecture for women" that is a stark litany designed to get the attention of obese
female patients. He said he tells obese women they most likely will outlive an
obese spouse and will have a difficult time establishing a new relationship
because studies show most males are completely negative to obese women.

Bennett said he tells them their obesity will lead to high blood
pressure, diabetes, heart disease, gastroesophageal reflux and stroke. One
patient who Bennett had seen five or six times took offense at the lecture and
filed a complaint against Bennett about a year ago with the New Hampshire
Board of Medicine.

Bennett says his former patient filed the complaint because "I told a fat woman she was obese. I tried to get her attention. I told her you need to get on a program,
join a group of like-minded people and peel off the weight that is going to kill

So Dr. Bennett feels that the complaint was filed because of the content of his message. I beg to differ. It was clearly the delivery of the message that was inappropriate. Let's face it: the majority of Americans are overweight, myself included. This is not secret. It doesn't take an MD to know that you are overweight, either. It takes a scale or a mirror. The woman knew she was overweight. Dr. B could have been more tactful.

I'm sure that if Dr. Bennett had pointed out the weight gain and limited his remarksto the risks posed by it: hypertension, diabetes, sleep apnea, degenerative joint disease, arthritis, GERD, etc... and approached the patient's obesity from this purely medical standpoint, she would not have had a complaint.

Instead, he launched into a "lecture for obese women" where he told her that men don't like to f*ck fatties. He approached her from a social standpoint, and basically told her she was ugly and offensive. He didn't call her unhealthy, he called her undesirable. See the difference?

Perhaps I'm a little sensitive on this subject because there have been times when I haven't been the most tactful and have been called on it. It could also be that I'm also a Big Woman - a Gentlewoman of Full Habit, as my father would put it. Sure, this is hitting close to home.

I don't think it's too much to ask that people think before they speak, though. Sure, sometimes THE TRUTH hurts. But it doesn't have to be excruciating.

He really is, I promise!

I get flak from time to time about calling my husband the World's Cheapest Man. I have to say, though, in my defense, that he goes out of his way to prove it to everyone.

For example, last night I was at a "Southern Living at Home" party, thrown by my friend Samantha. Lots of lovely housewares were on display, nibbles were appetizingly arranged, and the alcohol free-flowing. This was, I suppose, to soften you up for the "Southern Living at Home" sales pitch, causing you to fling caution to the wind and buy, BUY, BUY! while in that cozy alcoholic stupor.

For those of you who don't know this already, Southern Living is a magazine for housewives featuring lovely housewares and delectable comestibles, all beautifully choreographed and photographed, printed on glossy paper. My mother is a devotee. (This is the woman who's never lived further South than Maryland, mind you.)

Anyhoo, while I was at this party, working on my second enormous Cosmopolitan, my friend Hube called me to see if I was coming out with him and my other former co-workers to a local bar. He said he'd called my house first, but my dear husband, the WCM had informed him that:

"She's at some party that's going to cost us money."

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, he is indeed, the World's Cheapest Man.

And, incidentally, I bought a lovely wrought-iron cookbook holder for $34.95, plus shipping & handling.

Spiteful, yes.

Monday, August 22, 2005


or just plain moron?

Here's my oxymoron - I'm frantically relaxing. There's only one more free day in my summer and I'm trying desperately to get in all the stress-free time I can. Can you feel my pain?

I'm so not ready. I wasted far too much summer DOING things. If you ask the WCM, though, he'll say I did nothing. All a matter of perspective, I suppose.

I did my back-to-school shopping today, getting new clothes and shoes for ME. Miss Peanut needs nothing, as she has doting grandparents who spare no expense when it comes to their only grandchild.

Tonight is also the last night I'll have with my current hairdo. I'm off to the torture chamber/hair salon tomorrow to get it chemically whipped into submission. Perhaps, if I like it, you'll see it. Don't count on it.

sniff sniff - is that cake?

I think she'd sound a bit like Jane Horrocks with a dash of Linda Barker for good measure. She displays the vocabulary of a truck driver, though, so I don't think she's posh and snooty. Refreshingly down-to-earth, is what she is. The f-word features frequently in her posts, often gratuitously. Don't get me wrong - I like that. Shoot - I married the American male version - ginger hair and all.

She sounds like someone I'd love to meet in person. We'd hang out in a pub and drink, slagging off the latest celebrities and crap TV shows. There'd be some bitching thrown in, too, and just a little of that cat vs. dog debate. I'd have a G&T, and I'm thinking she'd just have a pint. Somehow, I don't see an English pub serving a decent Margarita, or I'd have that. I also don't see that scene happening anytime soon, as a trip to The Republic of Lancashire would be quite dear.

In the meantime, I'll visit virtually, 'cause she's lots of fun.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Right on, sister!

So I can't do trackback on Blogger, but everyone needs to read Mamcita's post about accomodations in public schools on Scheiss Weekly.

It's probably not the most positive way to start out the new school year (inservice begins in one week - aaaaiaiiiiiighgghghhhhh!!! I wasn't done with my summer yet!), but I think I'm going to print it out and hang it in my classroom...

Or not.

Monday, August 15, 2005

I've totally been blogrolled!

So, I know I don't get many comments on here. When I do, I usually check out the blog of whoever left them.

Imagine my joy to find out that one has blogrolled me! I officially exist on a blog outside of my circle of friends and family! I can't stop using my exclamation points!

So, I'll happily return the favor and blogroll the Recovering Packrat at Butterflies on the Wind.

Thanks for making my day!

A Colossal Change

The more observant of my (tiny) readership may have noticed that the Hube's Cube link is gone from my blogroll. That is not a deliberate slight of my very good friend, Hube. He had a few difficulties with his server and chose to take the opportunity it offered to cut back on his blogging time. He now posts his refreshing libertarian views as a part-timer on The Colossus of Rhodey, which I invite you all to check out.

Hube and I differ politically, but we love each other like family, so it all works out in the end.

A bouquet of freshly-sharpened pencils

One of my favorite lines from the movie "You've Got Mail" is the heroine saying that she loved the fall, and would send the hero a bouquet of freshly-sharpened pencils. My own pencils are rather dull and stubby these days.

I'm not feeling the same kind of nostalgia for fall. I'm not quite ready to go back to school. There are still so many things left to do.

Planning must be done - I have two loose units that I brought home with me at the beginning of summer that need to be tightened up and aligned with the State Standards. There are syllabi that need updating, materials to be created, and supplies yet to be purchased (with my own money, as usual). I know what has to be done. Somehow, though, the enthusiasm for doing it is slow in coming this year.

It could have something to do with not having any blackboards/whiteboards/surface to write on the walls in my current classroom. It could also be generalized dissatisfaction with recent events in my educational sphere. Or it could be that I just need more time to chill.

I'm thinking the last one is closest to the truth. Maybe I'll get a Margarita tonight and tell the WCM to piss off - I'm relaxing. Yeah, that's it. I'll be a teacher again tomorrow. Today, I'll still be an indolent slug.

Or in my case, un escargot paresseux.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


I was gently awakened from my slumber by a slow lick behind my left knee.

His nose gently nudged my legs farther apart.

Soft hair brushed the inside of my thighs as he maneuvered into his favorite position.

Then, plop.

Slider, the corpulent corgi settled into his favorite sleeping position, his body wedged between my legs with his face resting on my right ankle. I turned my head, smiling ruefully, toward the vacant side of the bed. The WCM was already at work. Damn, damn, and double damn.

What can I say - it's been a slow month 'round these parts.

Where's D'Argo?

So when did Stargate SG1 morph into Farscape?

Don't get me wrong - Ben Browder is the nicest piece of eye-candy that Stargate could boast of in a long time. Claudia Black is terrific in her current role, too. But, don't you think it's just a wee bit much to have them on another science fiction series together?

Anyone notice the irony of them always traveling through wormholes on SG1 when in Farscape, wormhole technology nearly annihilated the universe?

I suppose I'll get used to it. Although I really want General O'Neill back. Richard Dean Anderson, where are you??!!!!

Monday, August 08, 2005


My child is 12.5% Italian, thanks to my genes. I should say, thanks to my grandmother, whose parents hailed from Italy. Whatever the percentage, it won't change the fact that this child is in love with Parmesan cheese.

We are cheese people in this house - woe betide the lactose-intolerant guest looking for some nibbles. Babybels, mozzarella sticks, fresh mozzarella, cabot cheddar, gruyere, cream cheese, pecorino romano, and feta are all currently living in harmony in the deli drawer of our fridge. It's a veritable UN of Cheesedom. The once-enormous wedge of Parmesan simply won't fit in the drawer, and lives on the shelf above.

Peanut eats this Parmesan in huge hulking slabs. Spurning the once-coveted mozzarella sticks, she chows happily on thick slices of grana parmesan. Grateful as I am for the calcium in the cheese, I can't help but worry for her bowels, and am always shoving apples and prunes at her, while desperately repressing the Italian Mother's Mantra: Mangia, mangia, mangia! Not that my mother was a typical Italian Mother - I was lucky to ever get a decent meal when a casa sua. My mother could burn water.

Nanny, my Italian grandmother, made a decent red sauce, though. I remember standing on a chair next to her and squeezing the freshly-peeled plum tomatoes into flavorful shreds before they went into the saucepot. She hasn't made sauce in years, though, since she moved out of her own home and into my aunt's house 20 years ago. It's her sauce recipe I like to use when I have the time to cook sauce from scratch.

Peanut doesn't seem to care whose sauce it is, Nanny's or Prego, as long as there's a mountain of Parmesan next to her ravioli. I'm happy to have Nanny's recipe to pass down to Peanut, as a way to reinforce her Italian heritage.

Guess who's going to have her arms elbow-deep in plum tomatoes tomorrow? Time to buy another wedge of cheese...