October 20, 2010 <!– by Lori Culpepper Dinsmore –>
The headlines read “Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, Virginia, leaves voice mail for Anita Hill asking for apology for what she did with her husband 19 years ago.” No one knows for sure what transpired between Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas except the two of them-although most people have, or at least had, a definitive opinion on the matter. Upon receiving Ms. Thomas’s message, which ended with a perky “Have a nice day,” Ms. Hill called the FBI and released a statement saying that she had nothing to apologize for, because she had been completely truthful during her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Heading a shopping list of questions I, personally, have for Ms. Virginia Thomas, who identified herself on the message as ‘Ginni’:
1. Have you never had a dog? Because if you had, you certainly would have realized it’s always best to leave them alone when they’re sleeping.
2. Where did you receive your training in the art of harassment? Did you study this particularly attractive skill in some kind of continuing education program? Hmmm…where else…where else…would you learn such behavior…?
Given this timely and fascinating development, I thought I would re-post my tale from nearly two decades ago.
My brother, Mike, went to graduate school in San Francisco, and I flew out to visit him and his then girlfriend-now wife-Chiyuki during the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings. We sat glued to the television as The Senate Judiciary Committee members used phrases like “Long Dong Silver,” and “a pubic hair on a coke can.” There was also the quintessential moment of propriety when Senator Arlen Specter asked Professor Anita Hill “Why didn’t you tell the FBI about the size of Judge Thomas’s private parts?” According to Professor Hill, Judge Thomas had described this portion of his body to her as “above average.” Again, per Professor Hill’s testimony, Judge Thomas was very persistent in inviting her out on dates, and couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t go.
‘Me either!~With that kind of polished courting. Who says shit like that?’
The Committee Chairman, then Senator Joe Biden called witness after witness to testify as we soaked up all the facts before making up our minds. Whenever they would bring on one of the many blazingly defiant women defending Clarence Thomas, Mike would say “Oh no, we got another scary bitch.”
When we could pry ourselves away from the television long enough, we went kayaking on Monterey Bay, where the guides told us “Now, you may have a sea lion jump on your kayak with you. Try not to let that happen because it could flip you over.”
‘Exactly how do we dissuade the Sea Lions from boarding our vessel? Do they respond to courtesy?’
We visited Big Sur, Fisherman’s Wharf, and saw lots of vibrant areas of San Francisco. We went Gray Whale Watching on a touring yacht. The Gray Whales have a massive migration each year from their Arctic feeding grounds south to Baja, California, where they breed and calve. The seas were really rough with inclement weather this day, and I was loaded up with Meclizine (a medication to prevent motion sickness). As long as I’m not nauseous, I don’t mind rough seas, so everything was great as we saw several Gray Whales breeching through the swells. There were about ten other passengers on our whale watch, and two of them were a couple on their honeymoon. We departed mid-afternoon, and the new bride had obviously had a few cocktails with her lunch. The couple boarded and were having a terrific time, laughing and cooing. Well, rough seas and a champagne brunch don’t make the best combination, and this woman started feeding the fish about twenty minutes after we left the dock. Now, she was drunk and sick, and her devoted new husband was clutching his wife with all his might as the deck rolled and pitched with her hanging over the rail. She just got sicker and sicker and more and more limp, and her husband decided to ask the Captain if he could cut our outing short and return to port a little early. The poor woman was not even able to support her own body weight, and her husband asked Chiyuki, Mike, and me if we could hang on to his wife while he went to speak with the Skipper.
‘That’s an awfully big responsibility to ask of complete strangers.’
“We’ll try our best,” we nervously said. That seemed to be good enough for him.
So, Mike, Chiyuki, and I each grabbed a piece of her clothing and steadied ourselves on the deck while her husband left his beloved wife dangling between the rails puking her insides out. Their formerly high spirits thoroughly deflated, we finally made it back to the dock, where the landlubber’s husband carried her to their car.
Mike, Chiyuki, and I had dinner at Clint Eastwood’s restaurant in Carmel, then hurried back home to see what we had missed during the confirmation hearings. Chiyuki was born and raised in Japan, and met Mike when he traveled there on business. She taught herself English beautifully, and had moved to the U.S. to be with Mike. We got home, rushed to the sofa and turned on the television coverage of the hearings. Chiyuki brought us some sliced apples for a snack. We were munching on the apples as our eyes didn’t leave the television screen, when Chiyuki quietly commented “You know what they say-An app-er a day makes the Doctor unnecessary.”
Mike and I chewed and nodded in agreement, staring at the television “Mmm hmm. Wait, what?”
Chiyuki and Mike dropped me off at the airport, while we still wondered whether or not Justice Thomas would be confirmed.
“Have a nice fright,” Chiyuki pleasantly wished me.
During my flight back to Dallas, the Captain came over the P.A. and announced to everyone on board that Clarence Thomas had just been confirmed as the next Supreme Court Justice.
‘Well, how do you like those freaking apples?’
A few months after this, I was in the middle of reading a book on the whole Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas quagmire-with the book in the front pocket of my flight bag, when who walks over the threshold of the plane-Anita Hill! She was thoroughly lovely, warm, and played with a fussy baby who was seated next to her the entire flight. This was about the fourth or fifth time I had been reading a non-fiction book when one of the characters boarded my flight. It was my personal policy to never act like I recognized a well-know person, just out of respect for their privacy. However, there was always a weird vibe casually interacting with someone who knew nothing about you, but you were privy to such intimate details about them as that they had been publicly accused of sprinkling pubic hairs over one of their student’s term papers.
‘Why so much emphasis on pubic hair? Good Lord.’
Lori Culpepper Dinsmore
My brother Mike and I Gray Whale Watching on Monterey Bay