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Spitzer #2: What it’s like to get in trouble


I want to thank you all for your passionate, thoughtful, sometimes amusing and generally quite tough comments on the status of Elliot Ness/Spitzer. My favorite, somewhere down in the middle, was from one of my regular correspondents who remarked, “Your an idiot.” 

I suppose this situation will play itself out over the next few weeks and months, displacing, for a time, even Britney from the harsh glare of public morality. And in the end, I’m sure everything will work out as it should. At this point, however, I have to say that in spite of all the good reasons not to, even though he is, without question, a horrible hypocrite and whoremaster and all that? I feel sorry for Eliot Spitzer. Not because he deserves it. But because, if I got in trouble, I would hope that I do.

When I was nine years old, my mother and father gave me a beautiful jacket with suede elbow patches. The day after I received it, I lost it at school. I remember, more than 40 years later, the moment I realized that I had no idea where it was. I knew that when I got home, my father would say, “Where’s your new jacket?” And I would have to say, “I don’t know.” I never got it back, by the way. But that’s sort of beside the point. The thing we’re talking about is the eight hours I had to endure before anybody but me knew that the jacket was lost.

First of all, I felt like throwing up the entire time. Then there was the cold, and the chills. The thoughts of suicide. The feeling of rejection by the cosmos. The truth of existence loomed enormous in my sight. The universe does not care. Even the good, when they are flawed, are punished. In fact, the good are more often punished more severely than the bad.

We all do bad things. Even the best among us, those who work their whole lives to be without sin, feel burdened by it. I guess they feel that while they’re pretty much indemnified from prosecution in this sphere, they’re going to catch it in the next. The rest of us? We hurt those we love? We do what we need to do to get money, kicks, sex. Perhaps there are those who do nothing desperate in those pursuits. Let me know when you find one. I’ll avoid them.

Spitzer is ridiculous. To cut such a high profile as a paradigm of virtue? What a hoot! At the same time…I remember my parents finding my dope stash. I remember my girlfriend, Diane, finding out that I wasn’t at my parents over Christmas break, like I had told her. “Oops,” I thought when she called me at Phyllis’s apartment: Busted.

Haven’t you ever been apprehended in some way for one thing or another? Didn’t you want a little mercy at the time? Why does everybody in our culture want to cream the guy that screws up? Don’t you all remember what it was like, when it happened to you on a much, much smaller level? Isn’t there something you’re doing right now, intend to do in the near future, or can recall from the not-too-distant past, that recuses YOU from this discussion?