Saturday, September 19, 2020

Last night, Tom and I were quietly eating puttanesca and listening to the Red Sox game, when Joe and Will, the guys doing the call, suddenly interrupted their patter to announce that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died.

Hearing that she was gone was like having a rock thrown through the window. I put down my fork. I swallowed. All I could say, moronically, was "Fuck."

Yet the guys on the radio kept talking. Between balls and strikes, pop-ups to center and groundouts, they spoke of Ginsburg with sadness, with deep respect, recalling what she had done for the women in their lives, for the nation as a whole. They even, idealistically, tried to explain what they thought all Americans should do, on hearing the news of her death, which was: no matter what your political beliefs, pause and honor her well-lived life. They were hokey, but they were not circumspect. Here were two guys, whose lives center around a sport open only to men, who in a normal year avoid political commentary like it's the plague, paying homage to a great liberal justice, a great woman.

I say in a normal year. I say like the plague. Well, it's a plague year: and this is not the first time that Will and Joe have become newsmen this year rather than simply stats raconteurs. They've been monitoring the Covid situation; they've been monitoring the BLM protests; and in both cases they've revealed their staunch support for equality and for science. Joe is close to retirement; Will is a young father; both are white men, and they have stepped up, clearly to their own surprise, and become spokesmen for do-the-right-thing.

The loss of Ginsburg is devastating. But what she has left behind offers hope. Not only has she changed the trajectory of so many women's lives, but she has also served as a model of conviction and civility for men. I'm grateful for my twenty-six-year-old son, who called me at 7 a.m. this morning to mourn, who is currently sussing out the situation with his equally sad fifty-five-year-old father. And those baseball guys, Joe and Will, driving home after a game, sliding into bed with their sleeping wives: they're trying, we're trying, we'll keep on trying.

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