As near as I can remember, I've been somewhat accountable to 11 editors during my extended stay on these pages, and somewhat less accountable to a handful of auxiliary editors. With few exceptions, they have all been young people. They aren't all young people anymore, but during those intervals when he or she was the only person in Boise whose opinions on my opinions I gave much of a damn about, they were young.
Their youth is not why I gave much of a damn about what they thought, though. I cared what they thought of what I was thinking--therefore, writing--because during their terms as editor, he or she was the only person (other than myself) who could twist my original copy into alphabet hash before translating it into the printed word.
In other words, as editor, he or she had the power to turn whatever I had written--whether it was brilliant, not-so-brilliant, or the-exact-opposite-of-brilliant--into something other than what I set out to say. That is a power I have never been comfortable with in anyone else's hands, let alone someone's who, for all I know, may be listening to Justin Bieber through their ear buds and thinking they can't hardly wait to get home to their Playstations.
There is, however, another irritating thing about young editors that goes beyond any damage they can do to what I hand over to them on deadline day. They can't seem to sit still. They're always moving about. And I don't mean wiggling and squirming in their editor's chairs like an ADHD-afflicted seventh-grader in English class. No, just when a fellow gets good and comfortable with them, and learns to trust that they won't be totally botching up what he hands over to them on deadline day, and when he feels like they've become a friend of his and maybe even a good friend, they pull up stakes, load the Subaru with everything they own and take off for distant corners of the country.
Such is the tale of young Rachael Daigle. Over the four years she has been the only living human being whose opinions on my opinions mattered to me, I have grown good and comfortable with her. I've learned to trust that she wouldn't be totally botching up whatever I turned in on deadline day. And she has become my friend. A pretty good friend, even. At least, from my side of the bargain.
And it has nothing to do with the abuse she's so calmly taken from me. It's true, I've had my moments with young Rachael: "What do you mean I can't say that!?" or "What the hell was wrong with the way I wrote it in the first place!?" or "Would you kindly keep your grubby paws off my syntax!?"
But in each of those moments, she explained what she had done and why she had done it in such a lucid and logical way, my argument would crumble like mousetrap cheese. You see, she is smarter than I am. Not only is she smarter, she's nicer than me. Smart and nice--a combination I was bound to warm up to.
And then she up and leaves. I would have been content to spend the rest of my Boise Weekly days putting my syntax in her grubby paws--even asking her the occasional "Are you the one jerking my paragraphs around like they were unruly goats!?"--but alas ... it was not to be. She is young. And young people move on, leaving us old people behind to miss them.
Yet I can't help but worry about her. Rachael is sallying forth into a world that has grown increasingly hostile to smart, ambitious, capable, outspoken, independent women--be they young or not-so-young, the fears I hold for Rachael are the same I have for my daughters. And your daughters, too, dear readers. I fear for all those daughters and sisters and mothers who don't fit the yoke that the deranged Republican theocrats are preparing for them.
It is becoming increasingly iffy to be a woman in this country. And unless Americans have the good sense to reject those who insist women must be denied their own decisions, young Rachael's future might well be determined by national leaders who believe a woman can't conceive a "legitimate" rapist's child; who believe that common forms of birth control are forms of early abortion, and that all abortion, no matter the circumstance, should be felonized; who believe that a fertilized egg is entitled to more rights and considerations than the mother; who believe a health organization run by women for women (e.g. Planned Parenthood) must be snuffed out, to be replaced by forced medical procedures (e.g. transvaginal ultra sound); who have no use for, and would happily nullify, all manifestations of gender equality, be it in the home, the schools, the insurance companies or the workplace; who believe that if it's been determined by the Elders of the Free Market Tabernacle that women are to make less money than their male counterparts ... so be it; who believe in their Catholic/Mormon/Taliban/Neanderthal brain stems that the Holy Father in all His Studly Wisdom put women on this Earth for one thing only; who believe ...
Ah, but there is really no end to this, is there? We know from long, nasty experience that once the Piously Fervent start pushing people around, it doesn't stop. At least, not until the pushees push back.
(Rachael, I am so, so sorry that I've turned my fare-thee-well, heart felt as it is, into another avenue to attack the Idiot Right. But I'm sure you understand, and I'm confident you would approve were you still in your twisty-turny editor's chair. Good luck, friend.)