I’m at the airport in Miami yesterday drinking a latte, thinking cigar, but sitting next to a lovely woman; we talked a bit. Eventually, I start glancing at the New York Times. I look at the front page headlines and, as always, don’t begin reading the articles that are unsurprising: "A Divided House Denounces Plan for More Troops," "Italy Indicts 26, Many from CIA, in ’03 Abduction," "Furor Over Push for a Cervical Cancer Vaccine," and one on McCain, on Iran, and so on. My eye lands on
In Twist for High School Wrestlers: Girl Beats Boy. Still on the front page, below the fold, I begin reading. It has to do with a 103 pound wrestler named Jessica Bennett who is very good at the craft. She racks up points (against a boy), as the boys’ teamates "look down at their feet." I note their shame. The piece seems to describe a bawdy sport, hinging on the pornographic, describing who is mounting who, which leg is being held and where, how the boy is riding the girl’s back, and then almost a kind of lust stirring up a desperate courage, seeming to beat low nature back. She wins the point.
Into the article more, I notice that the woman next to me marks that I am growling and huffing and puffing. I had to explain. Talked about boys and girls, men and women, and the possible differences. She admitted some, and also said she understood the boys’ shame. Physical strength is all they have left now, she said. And maybe not even that. No longer the weaker vessels, these young women, but ladies no more. What will they do? What will the boys do when they cannot be called Andrews? Maybe Jessica has a way out for us, I read aloud to my neighbor what "soft-spoken Jessica" says near the end of the article: "Boys have a lot of testosterone and they’re stronger, so when I win it’s on technique. Hopefully, I can outwit them." This might be high nature reasserting itself, so I end the article being less pessimistic and I note to my new lady friend that it is Jessica herself--a fifteen year old--who understands. Hope reasserted itself.
But I do note this morning, in re-reading the very same article on-line that that comment from Jessica, as it appeared in the paper version of the New York Times, has been removed from the on-line version. I wonder why, and I wonder if Jessica would approve.