The other morning on the drive to work I was listening to a call-in show out of L.A. Normally I avoid that sort of thing -- being all too aware of the belligerence that surrounds me, there's no need to let it fill my car -- but this was an NPR affiliate, so I was pretty sure that gentleness and reciprocity would be the morning's watchwords. The guest was David Lipsky, and he spent four years at West Point and then wrote a book about it. Let me tell you -- and I'll tell it to you like this because Pulp Fiction was just on IFC -- that David Lipsky is one charming motherfucker. He made me want to go to West Point. It is a magical place, filled with talented, intelligent people who carry the weak when they have fallen behind and see beyond the color of a person's skin. Lipsky described the daughter of two Black Panthers who got in to West Point so she could subvert the white oppressor's system from the inside; but what she discovered was a true paradise of race relations, a place where colorblindness was so very rooted and genuine that in her weaker moments she began trying to plot how to keep civilians out of this good-hearted Eden.
One thing the host of the show wasn't addressing was the fact that many of these talented, intelligent West Pointers, 20% of whom are women, are being prepared to lead their sometimes less-talented and less-intelligent brethren through battlefields across the globe whilst figuring out the most efficient way to capture and/or kill some guys who may have never had the chance to pick a Shakey's Pizza out of their mustaches. This Lipsky fellow was just so seductively Alpha Male that I hadn't even really noticed this gap in the conversation, too busy as I was secreting glucorticoid hormones and grooming my fur. Fortunately, just as I was pulling into my parking spot at work a reasonably angry-sounding and clear-headed woman from Ojai called in to wonder when our jolly host and eloquent guest were going to discover the killing-other-people pot at the end of the military school rainbow.
I cut the engine just as she finished her question, confident that she'd squeeze a response out of him. No doubt Lipsky's answer was thoughtful, deferential but pointed, and slick enough to slip through her fingers. I heaved my laundry duffel up on my shoulder, waved a cheerful hello to the Mexican gardener -- the one who looks like a nut-brown Pete Postlethwaite -- as he raked my boss's gravel driveway, and pulled the ripcord on my mental parachute, wondering if today would be the day everyone would work out who was right and who was wrong.