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Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

Of course he can
have a girlfriend

I generally don't get involved in office bickering, particularly in print among staff columnists, preferring instead all-out war.

But I can neither bicker about nor defend some stupidity that seeped into my column last week about older gentlemen having girlfriends.

The column was about a 70-year-old man accused of attacking his girlfriend with a machete and hammer because she wouldn't do the dishes. I questioned what a man his age was doing with a girlfriend anyway, which was a dumb thing to say. Then I insulted God knows how many other good readers by saying that there's something wrong with any man over age 60 who still has a girlfriend.

Columnist Dave Donnelly, who happens to be over 60 and has a girlfriend, or did the last time I checked, accused me of ageism in making such a remark about an entire group.

I should have known better. Generalities always get a writer in trouble. For instance, if I had said that there is something wrong with Dave in particular and not all men over 60, then I might have had a defensible position. But then Dave would write that there's something wrong with me. And then editorial columnist Diane Chang would chime that there's something wrong with both Dave and me, being men and all. And then we'd say something nasty about her.

Then sports columnists would join the fray, making rude football double entendrés and before long no columnist would be writing about anything except other columnists, which is as exciting as watching a gecko break wind.

So, I grant Dave his point. It was stupid to say that men over 60 should not have girlfriends. It not only was ageist, it was sexist. Would I have written that women over 60 should not have boyfriends? Do I look completely insane?

And while we're cleaning house here, let me add that it's nobody's business if men over 60 have boyfriends and women over 60 have girlfriends and, God help me, if I can ever climb out of the quagmire I will be heartily thankful.

For the record, I just turned 40-something this month and if I had a girlfriend my wife would kill me, most likely with a machete, hammer and whatever electrical home and garden implements are in the garage. Black and Decker probably has kept more marriages together then wedding vows.

SOLD! THAT wraps up the mea culpa portion of this column. However, in keeping with today's in-house theme, I'd like to move on to other things happening at the paper, notably the resignation of publisher John Flanagan.

John stepped down to join Black Press, the company that will be publishing the Star-Bulletin beginning March 15. Now John will be able to devote his full energies to the transition. This comes on the heels of Dave Shapiro stepping down as managing editor due to health problems.

We definitely are in strange times. While it's a bit unnerving to see your boss step down, it obviously had to be done. But I know those working for the Star-Bulletin while it remains under the control of Liberty Newspapers will continue to put their heart and soul into the paper.

Our first loyalty is to the readers. We are not involved in the politics of the transfer of ownership, but the duty to continue serving the readers. It is in the best interest of the readers of both Honolulu newspapers that the transfer go through with dignity and respect while maintaining quality, this particular column not withstanding.

Bulletin closing archive

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802
or send E-mail to

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