John Grindrod: From Bruce to Caitlyn to courage?


I’ve noticed a change in me the older I get, just four days after I turned the age to which the Beatles once crooned the musical question, “Will you still need me/Will you still feed me …?”

No, I’m not talking about the obvious physical changes over time, relative to the diminution of that which doesn’t matter very much to me anymore, like the dearth of noggin hair, or even the more serious changes like the gradual loss of more flexibility and stamina.

In this case, what I’m talking about is a positive change, one behavioral in nature, which is a lessening of the urge to talk in depth about matters upon which I’m really ill-equipped to render much incisive commentary. As a young fella, I could seemingly go on for hours on whatever the hot topic of the day was, regardless of how bereft I was of any true insight, I guess somehow feeling the volume I could generate would impress others so much, it wouldn’t really become evident how little I really knew.

So, aside from a few comments, more lighthearted than vitriolic over the last several weeks, about the topic du jour in the pop world, the transformation of the Wheaties box-anointed world’s greatest athlete, former gold-medal decathlete Bruce Jenner, to Caitlyn Jenner, I’ve not had a whole lot to say.

Admittedly, I’ve had a little fun with the story with my pals, but I don’t see any harm in that. After all, so has Jenner when the former “he” recently said in an interview, “I’m not doing this so I can hit it off the women’s tee,” a line my links-loving family must have loved.

Like many of you, I’m mystified by the metamorphosis that apparently is genuine as opposed to one effected for ulterior motives about this whole gender-bending thing. I’ll admit, when the story began to surface, I did arch my eyebrows and suspected a Kardashian-esque ruse of some sort to hype a TV show and line a bunch of talent-bereft pseudo-celebs’ pockets with more money than a number of the G7 countries that pow-wowed last weekend.

But when I saw the glamour pictures after the plastic surgery in the paper, I believe Jenner when Jenner (I know a pronoun is called for here, but I’m a bit confused) stated no one would make such a change merely to cash in. After all, with, according to http://celebritynetworth.com, a net of $100 million worth of mostly Kardashian-infused money, it’s not as if Caitlyn really needs much more.

Of course, it’s difficult for me to imagine it took the new Twitter Queen, who last week reached more than a million followers faster than anyone in history, breaking the mark set by the current resident of the White House, three marriages totaling 46 years and, count ‘em, six children, to decide he was playing on the wrong team. But, please don’t take me to be an insensitive clod in this age of political correctness. I’m on very unfamiliar turf here.

However, I’m not real sure about our president’s tweet last week, telling Jenner, “It takes courage to share your story.” Were the story not being sold for bushel baskets’ full of money in an upcoming E! Network, maybe I’d buy in a bit more with this whole courage spin.

What irritates me the most, I think, is when I heard last week that ESPN in their ESPY awards show set to air in mid-July, which honors athletes for noteworthy achievements, will present Jenner with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, named for the late tennis star, who overcame racial barriers in, at the time, an all-white tennis world and then, after contracting AIDS from a tainted blood transfusion during open-heart surgery, approached his death with unmatched grace and dignity,

Certainly, this past year, a far more worthy recipient for the Ashe Award would have been 19-year-old Lauren Hill, who continued both to play basketball at Mount St. Joseph’s in Cincinnati after being diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer and raise money for cancer research until her death in April. Talk about the consummate master child teacher of life lessons!

But, I guess posthumously honoring Hill just wouldn’t move that Nielsen needle enough, now, would it? And, so, despite the many extra female viewers ESPN’s move will probably pick up, anxious to see the hairstyle and the gown, there’ll be one less ESPY viewer this year … me.

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