Band of Brothers

I made two big mistakes on Super Bowl Sunday of 2017. Don’t ask me which teams were in the game or who won. I have no clue because I couldn’t care less about football in general and especially the Super Bowl.

Were those my mistakes?  No. Well, what were they?

On that particular Sunday, I actually had the nerve to reply to a Facebook comment of a former high school and college football player, calling him out on a racist remark he posted on my friend Bob’s page. Although everyone involved attended the same high school over 50 years ago, it seems that if you played football back then, you are to this day considered a “great guy” and all the other players will defend you even if you are clearly in the wrong.

A former player made the statement, “some of the dumbass pollocks had a half pint and were drinking…”

I replied, “Dumbass pollocks – really?? Do you mean fish??” The easy out eluded him. His reply was: “Sorry, Polacks. I can say this because I am a Polish and a proud one and I can laugh at myself. I love Polish jokes.”

I replied back saying, “Just because you are Polish does not make it okay or funny.”

Later in the exchange, he made the following statement:  “We were a band of brothers, just as I was with my black brothers on the team, we joked and put each other down, I miss those days, everybody is so serious now. Didn’t mean to offend anybody, Bob, help me here.”

He believed it was ok because these players were in a special “band of brothers” who talked like this all the time. I doubt if he even noticed, but two of his former football “brothers” actually “liked” my reply to him. One of them even commented that he’s been fighting remarks like this all his life and he wasn’t happy about it.

I told him, “…You don’t need Bob’s help. We’re not in high school anymore. I’m sorry that I don’t understand the “band of brothers” mentality, where you can say things like that and think it is okay. I’m done here. Over and out.”

At this point, Bob (the lawyer of the group) comes in to mediate. Bob kindly informs me that the offender is “great guy,” who played football at our old high school and at Michigan State University.  Apparently, it stands to reason that I should know that he’s a good guy because he was a former football player and, according to Bob, “a good liberal progressive friend” of his. How did I not see that?

I did not see that because using derogatory remarks doesn’t make anyone a good guy.

At that point, I said to my most likely new ex-friend, Bob: “I see the band of brother and locker room mentality in your comment. I haven’t got a chance. So, being the only “girl” in this locker room (heck, I wasn’t even a cheerleader), I’ll just move on and find my own good liberal friends.”

At the beginning of the story, I said I made big mistakes and I did. My first mistake was not calling this man out for his racist remark. My first mistake was thinking that someone who saw these exchanges or who was actually a part of the exchanges would go against their “brother” and stick up for me and agree that this remark was uncalled for.

But no, I was made to feel like I was the person in the wrong. After all, how could anyone question a former high school and college football player? How could any of these guys in the “Band of Brothers,” black or white or Polish, stick up for a woman who they all knew was right? They all went into their “mental locker room” and wouldn’t let the “girl” in.

Later in the day, I saw a post from the lawyer to the offender apologizing to him for the “torture” he went through on his Facebook post. I never knew I had the power to torture football players. After all, I’m just a girl. Thank you, Bob, for confirming to me that while you guys were out on the field playing a game, I was in a classroom learning about social and racial injustice and learning to speak up against it.

My second mistake was thinking that after 50 plus years, these guys would have grown up.

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Elena Von Willer

Elena is a retired legal secretary who is also a widow. After her husband’s death, Elena says she felt totally lost. She and her husband had done all the things couples were supposed to do when they planned for their retirement and their life after working. They worked to pay off the house and the cars, each had a will and a living will. They had it all in place “just in case.” The only thing they didn’t really think about was what would the one left do with their life when the other died? How would they fill all that time? Her husband said that he wouldn’t retire and would continue working, but that didn’t happen. He died first. Her only family was living 200 miles away. So, she retired and moved to be near them. Now her new job started. What was she going to do in a strange town where the only people she knew were her daughter and son-in-law who were working all day long? Elena’s stories are what she likes to call “How to Be a Widow When You Didn’t Plan for It.” Through her stories, she hopes other will see that there can be life after loss.

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