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Jewish World Review Oct. 23, 2002/ 17 Mar-Cheshvan, 5763

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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Consumer Reports

Feelings, whoa-whoa-whoa feeeeeee-lings

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | I'm thinking of writing a column about North Korea's recently revealed nuclear capability, or the latest sniper attack, or Saddam Hussein's sudden beneficence toward his prison population - something newsy - but am stopped in my tracks by the realization that I am not yet in touch with my feelings.

And nothing, as we're reminded nearly hourly by television reporters and the burgeoning cadre of psychological analysts available for interviews and possibly better-paying TV jobs, is more important than how we feel about things. To not feel - or to be unwilling to share our feelings - is tantamount to being un-American.

I flip on the tube.

In no time at all, my eyes begin misting over Rosie O'Donnell's sweet charity in hiring a high-profile lawyer to represent those little boys in North Florida who grew up badly and are accused of beating their sleeping father to death. She did it for the children and, as everyone knows, doing anything for the children demonstrates to the world that you're a caring, feeling person.

And to think, Rosie did it without fanfare, without anyone's knowing that she was behind this act of altruism. At least not until someone leaked the information and the judge had thrown out the boys' second-degree murder convictions, ordering lawyers to mediate a solution or face a new trial. As I watch Rosie's attorney, Jayne Weintraub, talk about her tearful telephone breakdown with Rosie following the judge's ruling, I am feeling inadequate, selfish and uncaring.

I flip the channel.

Two men and a woman are talking about women's feelings. One of the men is the interviewer, the other a psychologist. The woman is a woman, by virtue of which she feels more than men do. I don't remember their names; doesn't matter. Such heads are interchangeable. Switch to any random channel and your chances are in the 90 percent range of finding another trio talking about women's feelings.

Involuntarily, my lips start moving. Without a script, somehow I know the words. Men do not "get" women. Men need to learn how women communicate. When random woman says - "I asked him to help me make the sandwiches 50 million times and he's still not doing it - men need to hear. More important, women need to be more assertive, as in:

"I'm not making any more flipping sandwiches, Bub. You want a sandwich, discover the miracle of sliced bread."

I am beginning to feel a little better. Here is sense being made. But no. The interviewer sees a fray in this thread: "But what if a woman has low self-esteem? Isn't it going to be hard for her to be assertive?"

Suddenly I am aware of fog. My lips stop moving and my eyelids become heavy. I am inexplicably depressed, mindful of sandwiches. What kind were they making, I wonder? I begin obsessing about the uncountable types of bread out there, the thousands upon thousands of sticky spreaders left in the bottom of sinks waiting for Someone Else to wash, the hopelessness of American women whose husbands won't make their own lunch.

Despairing, I flip the channel. There's Paula and I can't focus on what she's saying. Is Paula happy, I wonder? Is she letting her hair grow? I can't help feeling that the blunt cut was better, but what do I know? I can't think anymore. My feelings are all bubbling to the surface about children and husbands and sandwiches and hair 'n stuff.

I flip the channel. News Person is talking about Saddam and showing Iraqi families embracing loved ones as they storm out of the Abu Ghareb prison. Flip. Someone is mad about North Korea developing nuclear weapons. Hey, they promised! Flip. Montgomery County, Md., Police Chief Charles A. Moose wants the sniper to give him a call. Aw.

My feelings tell me that the United States is a big meany for threatening war against a guy like Saddam who releases prisoners so they can go home to their families and just wants everybody to be happy and stop harping on the gassed Kurd thing. My feelings tell me that the United States should stop calling other countries like North Korea "evil" just because they want nuclear weapons. I mean, we have nuclear weapons, don't we? Wassup w'dat?

My feelings tell me that Moose and the sniper just need to get together and chat. Maybe they can conference call with one of those psychologists. Then when they catch the guy, maybe Rosie O'Donnell can hire the sniper an attorney because I'll just bet he had a lousy childhood.

Feeling warm, compassionate and understanding toward my fellow human beings but nonetheless bereft, I grab my blankie and Mr. Pooh Bear and curl into a fetal ball. I'll write my column another day, I whimper softly into the covers. I don't feel like thinking right now.

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