Just A Thought – If You Can Laugh, You Don’t Have to Cry

I always want to do something to celebrate Women’s History Month, but I seldom do. Year after year, the fact of being female is both a delightful experience and a ridiculous burden. On Tuesday morning, I was surprised to find myself feeling hopeful. I knew a lot of people voting for Elizabeth. On Wednesday morning, I was slightly more disappointed than usual. Once again, what looked like a real chance melted away under a river of cynicism and fear. It does not matter if you are the smartest person in the room – and nothing can persuade me that Elizabeth was not the smartest person in the room – if you are female.

And tomorrow morning, we all have to wake up and face the same reality again.

Cynicism is not my strength. So I turned to someone for whom it was.

Watching “Raise Hell – The Life and Times of Molly Ivins” I had a chance to remember a writer I admired for many years. The key to her sense of humor was her cynicism, and her tart wit. She was a Texan who was so well educated by her oil company executive father that she ended up rejecting his conservative values completely. Her six foot stature, she noted, put her so out of range of the standard ‘southern woman’ role models that she had to invent herself, whole cloth.

I first picked up a book of her writing, “Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?” on a day when I had been told at least once too often that my job did not require me to have an opinion or to share it. I read her stuff, and laughed out loud at many pages.  I did not know much about Texas politics before reading Molly Ivins, but I knew a lot about it when I was done.

Discovering a woman whose job as a writer was to have opinions, wow, I thought, that’s amazing.

A sample of her wit – when the Texas Legislature succeeded in the effort to re-criminalize sodomy, the two politicians who had created the new law gave each other a high five as the vote passed. Molly went to the bailiff and ask that they be arrested, as “It is now against the law in the state of Texas for a prick to touch an asshole.” And those were words you could not print in a newspaper.

So , as a remedy for the presidential candidate blues, as a celebration of Women’s History Month, I recommend watching “Raise Hell – The Life and Times of Molly Ivins.”

What she would have to say about the city of Austin closing SXSW this year, I can’t imagine. But it would have been right on target, honest, cynical and funny.

Because if you can laugh, then you don’t have to cry. Tomorrow morning, we will all have to face this same reality again.

Judith Martin-Straw



The Actors' Gang

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