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Little Things

November 9, 2017

The two women beside me on the flight from Vermont to Denver were having a good time, on a business junket to Palm Springs. We hit it off and were yokking it up even before they ordered their bloody Marys on the morning flight.

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

The two women beside me on the flight from Vermont to Denver were having a good time, on a business junket to Palm Springs. We hit it off and were yokking it up even before they ordered their bloody Marys on the morning flight.

I was raised in an ethnically, but not religiously, Jewish family, and my tribe is rather touchy-smoochy. As I reached over to touch my seatmate on the arm for another wisecrack I stopped myself, because of the scandal of the month.

Did I have the right to touch her? Would it be obnoxious?

A minute later she grabbed my arm to tell me one.

Good. I could be myself.

Many of you by now, had you been paying attention, might assume this is a set-up for a bullshit column that says our nation is overreacting to Harvey Weinstein’s vile sexual predations, and the criminal acts of so many other male broadcasters and government officials who have resigned or been fired but are not yet in jail.

This is not that column.

I’d like to see Harvey Weinstein in a three-man prison cell at San Quentin with Donald Trump and a large unpleasant aggressive sexual predator named Spike, in a One-Act play by Sartre that never ends. I would pay money to see that.

But here’s the thing: the sexual assault and harassment exposés that are dominating the news have had a direct effect on me only in this way: They made me pay attention to a little thing, and such a little thing: whether it’s OK to touch a new friend on the elbow, in the light of day, in a safe environment, surrounded by people.

I don’t particularly like it that I had to think about whether it was right to act naturally, in friendship, in the manner in which I was raised. But I think it’s good that I was forced — that I forced myself — to think about it. Thinking about it did me no harm, and think of all the harm women have suffered for centuries from men who didn’t stop and think.

I am after seeing my niece married in Denver, hanging around at my sister’s house, resisting her persuasions to move to Denver.

After 14 years in Vermont, I am thinking of moving — no reason; just the 14-year itch. But I can’t think of anyplace better to live, and since there’s no rush or impelling reason, when I consider a new city, I think of little things. Taxes, for instance.

I don’t mind paying taxes. I went to public schools, drive on public highways, use electricity and water and internet made possible by state and federal spending. But I will never move to, or even drive again through Texas, because I don’t want to pay one penny in tax to that damn state government. Same with Florida, Georgia, and most of the South. And Kansas.

Denver seems hip, though. On Tuesday in Denver and in school districts all around it, 100 percent of the pro-voucher school board candidates were defeated, making it unlikely that these school boards will siphon public money into private enclaves.

This may seem like a small consideration for an old man looking for a place to live, but it’s not. Had the voucher candidates been swept into office I’d scratch Denver right off the list.

Also Tuesday, Denver voters approved a $937 million bond package: $345 million for libraries, the arts, parks, recreation and public facilities; $75 million for public hospitals and $431 million on transportation.

Denver’s hundreds of hiking and biking trails show that the citizens have driven the powers that be into doing what’s right for a long time. Everyone I’ve met seems to love it here.

Still, I don’t think I’ll move to Denver. Soaring population, horrible traffic, a housing shortage with its attendant rent insanity, the impending inevitable water crisis.

I wish Denver the best, but no, not for me, not for the last decades of my life: not to see it happen all over again.

After 13 years, I have not found anything to dislike about Vermont. Not that I’ve been looking. I like all the little things about it, even the long winters. They say 30 below keeps out the riff-raff.

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