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Gail Collins The Girl of My Dreams, Homage to Pauline Phillips

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  • Ed Pearl
    Hi. This isn t what you d expect, but in 1996, when columnist Bob Scheer escorted Dear Abby into the Ash Grove on the Santa Monica pier, I was dumbstruck. I d
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 19, 2013
      Hi. This isn't what you'd expect, but in 1996, when columnist Bob Scheer
      escorted Dear Abby into the Ash Grove on the Santa Monica pier, I was
      dumbstruck. I'd relished her column since early college, but quitely, to
      avoid hectoring by 'intellectual', radical or snobby new friends. She had
      the rare ability to talk sense to regular folks; to a mass audience about
      common, personal concerns, using humor, brevity and humane (progressive)
      insights. I've known many now-famous folks; Dylan, Fonda, Jagger, et al- but
      with Abby, my inner kid muffled me. I'd also long given up identifying my
      'landsleutern' by sight (Lauren Bacall, eg), but with Abby, what went
      through my mind was 'that's funny, you don't look Jewish". I didn't have the
      chupzpah to say it; we chatted - mostly Bob, about the club - and then they
      were seated. That's my Abby story. What a full life, and a gift to so many.
      Alevai, shalom !
      Just below, another brilliant candle light. -Ed


      The Girl of My Dreams

      Gail Collins
      NY Times: 1/19/2013

      There is nothing the world loves more than an athlete who’s playing the game
      on behalf of a dying loved one.


      Earl Wilson/The New York Times

      In the land of sports, people who have terminal illnesses are always more
      interested in the team’s fortunes than in having their
      son/brother/lover/best friend at their bedside. The story’s been a staple
      ever since the expiring Ronald Reagan told
      ity_of_notre_dame/index.html?inline=nyt-org> Notre Dame to “win just one for
      the Gipper” in “Knute Rockne — All American.”

      And now we have Manti Te’o, the star linebacker for Notre Dame, whose dying
      girlfriend turned out to be imaginary. But imaginary with a lot of team
      spirit. “Babe, if anything happens to me, you promise that you’ll stay there
      and you’ll play and you’ll honor me through the way you play,” she told him
      when she was critically injured in a car crash, fell into a coma and then
      emerged to learn she had leukemia. When she was conscious, she devoted much
      of her time to writing inspirational letters to Te’o before each game.

      Such a girlfriend does not exist. Somebody made her up, and the sports world
      is currently debating whether Te’o was the victim of a hoax, or part of the

      All I can say is, the story tells you a lot.

      Fans cheered when Te’o played through what he said was the day of the
      funeral of his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, who died on the same day as his
      actual grandmother. (“I knew...that my girlfriend and my family would want
      me to be out there. They wouldn’t want me to be sulking over things,” he
      told Sports Illustrated.)

      It’s the American way. But as the story unfolded, it turned out that she
      didn’t ever require his presence. In an interview with Sports Illustrated,
      Te’o said that at one point, he was on his way home to Hawaii for summer
      break when the comatose Lennay almost died in a hospital in California.
      “They were scheduled to pull the plug while I was in the air,” he told
      Sports Illustrated.

      It didn’t seem to occur to him that he might have dropped by. Do you think
      this is a young-man fantasy — a girlfriend so lacking in neediness that you
      don’t even have to visit her in the hospital while she’s in a coma followed
      by leukemia?

      In fact, there was apparently never any physical connection. They talked on
      the phone. Texted all the time. But the star linebacker — who reportedly saw
      other flesh-and-blood girls on campus — didn’t seem to feel this special
      romance was lacking anything simply because it had no three-dimensional

      Maybe in an era when “dating” seems to mean “send texts about whether to get
      together later,” this counts as a fulfilling relationship.

      It’s possible Te’o was the credulous victim of an elaborate trick. But he
      was surrounded by a veritable army of coaches, chaplains and mentors, who
      were presumably privy to the Lennay saga from the start. Certainly they knew
      all about it when the Notre Dame publicity machine made it a core part of
      the football team’s undefeated-until-the-championship-game season. But
      nobody seemed to raise an eyebrow.

      If you listened to the story while sitting next to Te’o on a bus, you would
      have warned him not to tell a national TV audience about this girlfriend
      until he got some proof she actually existed. (“We met just, ummmm, just she
      knew my cousin. And kind of saw me there so. Just kind of regular,” he told
      Sports Illustrated.)

      But nobody at Notre Dame seems to have paid enough attention to figure out
      that the girl at the center of their winning-season story existed in the
      same universe as the Little Mermaid.

      Right after Christmas, Te’o told his coach that a woman who sounded like the
      dead girlfriend had called him to say she wasn’t deceased after all. The
      coach told the higher ups, and Notre Dame hired an outside firm to
      investigate the case. When an exposé broke on the Web site Deadspin, the
      school’s athletic director, Jack Swarbrick, held a press conference to
      tearfully announce that the investigation showed that Te’o was the victim of
      a “very elaborate, sophisticated hoax perpetrated for reasons we can’t fully
      understand. But it had a cruelty at its core.”

      This all occurred a couple of years after the Notre Dame team was involved
      in a genuine tragedy when a freshman from a neighboring girls’ college
      reported she had been sexually assaulted by a football player. The school
      did not order up an outside investigation. In fact, there appeared to be no
      investigation at all. After a period of dead silence in which she received a
      threatening text from another player, the girl died from an overdose of
      medication. Nothing else happened. Writing this week in The Washington Post,
      Melinda Henneberger, a Notre Dame graduate, noted that “my alma mater held
      the kind of emotional news conference for the fake dead girl they never held
      for the real one, Lizzy Seeberg.”

      Game’s over. Notre Dame loses.


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