She cries when she is happy. She cries when she is sad. She cries in the morning. She cries at night.
The other day she listened to presidential election news on her commute from work to home. Announcers finally told us that the long ordeal was over. America had selected Joe Biden to be our next President. Donald J. Trump was out.
Like many of us Natalie was exhausted by the election. Tears began to form in her eyes. Again Natalie was crying. She could not see and needed to pull over. A man noticed her distress. He pulled over also to soothe her.
He offered a tissue.
“I know how you feel,” he told Natalie. “I’m sad too. America is losing a great president. He loves America. He loves the American people. I will miss Donald Trump also.”
Natalie looked at the man in bewilderment. He had a MAGA hat, Trump-Pence stickers on his car and a Trump-Pence button on his shirt.
“You got it all wrong,” she said. “These are tears of joy. I am glad Trump was voted out of office. Now we can go back to normal.”
This story is another example of our great divide.
Let me give you another story. I talk to people during my almost daily walks around the lake. A man told me he knew the 2020 election was a sham because there was “no way” the majority of Michiganders would vote for Biden.
Less than five minutes later I ran into two ladies who told me “there was no way Michigan would vote for Trump a second time.”
I reminded both parties that there are only three guarantees in life. Death, taxes and the Detroit Lions failing to go to the Super Bowl.
There is a steady drum beat of text and phone calls that are blowing up my phone.
They go something like this.
“I got it,” they say.
IT is Covid-19 and IT is hitting epidemic levels with people close to me. The total is six. Two others report being in close contact with someone who had Covid-19. They are being tested to see if they have the disease.
There is a waitress, a humanitarian, two friends from the old neighborhood, the sister of one of my daughter Celine’s former soccer teammates. One is a relative. A niece.
The niece may have caught it at a Halloween party at Michigan State University. Upon learning she had Covid-19 her dad immediately put together a care package and drove up to deliver it. Celine, who is deathly afraid of the disease, questioned why the dad would go in harms way and deliver the package.
He could catch the disease.
The answer is easy. That is what dads do. At least that is what we are supposed to do. We must protect our children, sooth them, comfort them, hold their hands and make sure they are OK no matter the dangers to the dad.
One moment that still haunts me happened when Celine was a baby. She got a bad ear infection and cold that kept her up at night. She coughed and wheezed. And snot tumbled out of her nose like Niagara Falls. She could barely breathe.
I grabbed a plastic turkey baster and squeezed snot out of her nose and gave her pink medicine the doctor gave to us. Still, Celine gave me a sad look as if to say “dude help me. Do something here.”
It was all I could do. I felt terrible that I could not make things more comfortable for her. Kobe Bryant made the term girl dad famous. Of course we must also be boy dad, dog dad, cat dad and house dad.
Today, the boy and I will finish racking the leaves in the back yard. Afterwards, I plan to treat him to ice cream and talk about school.
If a gun fight breaks out on the street the dad must throw his body and blanket his child to make sure they are OK. We must pray that the bullets don’t strike and that they fall harmlessly to the ground.
We go to their soccer matches and cheer when they score. We take them to see Sesame Street. We go to dance recitals and say it was the best performance I’ve seen in a while even though half the group forgot steps in mid performance.
You laugh during the school play when your daughter is supposed to be dead but is whispering lines to help out fellow actors who forgot their lines.
You help with home work, listen to them cry after the first break up. You help them with the finishing lines of the senior class speech. And you stand in the middle of a college campus crying like a baby after dropping them off their freshman year.
Being a dad does not stop after school. Celine is moving to Chicago next fall. I look forward to moving her into her apartment and giving her advice on being a young lady in a big city.
That’s what a dad does. He enjoys the great moments, but more importantly he is there for down times.
Covid-19, bullets, bad weather, financial problems. Nothing stops dad.
President Donald J Trump played all of us during this presidential election. And he will keep playing us to the bitter end.
Maybe we should start calling him Donald X. By any means necessary, he is going remain in the White House for the next four years. If he loses this election the military is going to have to storm the White House and remove him.
As of Friday morning we still don’t know who will lead us for the next four years. Currently, races are deadlocked in Georgia, Pennsylvania and Arizona. Joe Biden is making a surge that the president knew was coming. It is one he set up.
The state elections are deadlocked. The nation is gridlocked.
Here is how Trump played us.
During this Covid crisis Democrats decided to vote by mail or absentee. Even though those ballots came in first, they are being counted last. Trump told us before the first ballot was cast that they would be corrupt. Meanwhile Trump encouraged his followers to vote the day of. That ensured he’d have a big lead election night.
Then when the Biden votes came in Trump could go back to his refrain of “voter fraud, they are stealing the election from me.”
And that’s exactly the way it looks.
“If you count the legal votes I easily win,” Trump said.
Stop the count.
Start the count.
Let’s do what benefits the President.
The result is his supporters and non supporters are left fighting on social media and in the streets.
He told us weeks ago this is what he was going to do. That is one reason why he rushed to get another Supreme Court judge who would look kindly up on him. He knew the fight would reach well beyond the ballot box. He was taking it to the streets.
He is our first Gangster in Chief.
Do you remember the final scenes of Scarface? Trump is Tony Montana. He is going to mow down authorities who try to remove him from the White House. He will be the one with cocaine dripping off his nose holding an automatic weapon screaming: “Say hello to my little friend.”
This is where I am supposed to tell you that I am outraged by his actions. But I won’t. I actually admire his spunk and drive. I don’t like the lies that he tells. I don’t like how he stirs us up. But there is something to admired about Gangsters.
Back in the day this nation had a love obsession with Bonnie and Clyde.
We will never have a president like Trump again. And quite frankly I am exhausted by all the news he created and the false allegations he showered upon us.
He convinced millions to ignore doctors and ignore science saying Covid is not that serious and that it is a hoax. He convinced more black males to listen to him, follow him and vote for him.
He introduced us to the term fake news. You can now use the word shit on cable television because of him.
He’s caused people to hit the streets in protest for and against him. Maybe I got the gangster part wrong. He might be more like a cult leader.
He grew up with a silver spoon. But Trump has that New York street fighter mentality.
He will go out with a black eye and broke arm. But we will all be damaged following the battles with this man.
Donald Trump, how dare you try to remove my vote from the process.
How dare you attempt to silence me and my family. You filed a lawsuit in Michigan to stop the count so you can win. One of the votes you wanted to take away was mine. I did not vote on election day. I chose to do early voting.
It was within my rights to do so. I have been a registered voter for decades and take my responsibility seriously. My vote should not count less because I decided to vote early. It should not count less because I did not vote for you.
You claim that your people did not have access to some ballots that were opened. I know somebody who is working where our ballots are counted and they say your people have been on their case since 7 in the morning.
A Trump person hovered over them when each envelope was opened. I still don’t know why my vote was one of the last to be counted even though it was one of the first to be turned in to the clerk’s office.
In fairness to you, your people claim you just want to root out the bad ballots. I don’t trust you because you are a win at all cost guy. My fear is my ballot might become a casualty.
I believe in the process. I believed in it four years ago when you won and I believe in the process whether a president is elected that I like or despise. At this point I still do not know who will be our next president. If it is you, then I will accept it. If it is Joe Biden then so be it.
I vote in every election, something that was passed down to me by my great grandfather, Daddy Floyd. He grew used to voter suppression and voter intimidation. He walked past Klan members to vote. He knew blacks who were beaten or killed because they wanted to vote.
I made a vow over treats of animal crackers to vote in every election both big and small. I kept my promise to my grandfather.
Now I beg of you. I beg the courts. Do not take away my vote. It means the world to me.
I worked downtown at the Lindell AC, America’s first sports bar, and it was the first time I worked a full 40 hour shift as a short order cook. That meant a check for $80. After taxes my take home came to $68.67.
My family always taught me to cash my check at a bank and to place at least half in savings. I did not do that on the richest day of my life. I cashed the check at the bar. The waitresses included me in their tips, which they didn’t normally do. I got an extra $10 which meant I walked to the bus stop for my ride home with $78.67.
I felt like Donald Trump that day although I’m certain I didn’t know who he was at the time.
As I took the Grand River bus from downtown home it dawned on me why my family told me to cash my check at the bank. I had to carry my $78.67 past the thugs and thieves that hung out at the corner store.
As soon as I stepped off the bus I swore someone announced I had $78.67 in my pocket. I felt eyes staring at me. Blue strobe lights began to shine on me. Men put down their beer bottles, waiting for the opportunity to swipe my $78.67.
Of course they didn’t. It was my imagination going wild again. I walked past the men and then I felt like I was being followed. I was. This dude I named Snatch, because after he robbed you he displayed sprinter’s speed during his getaway, followed me with his hands in his pocket. It usually meant he had a gun. This dude had robbed me before. And I knew he was going to do it again because my $78.67 was glowing in my pocket.
“You got anything for me today, young blood,?” he said.
“Nope,” I said. “I am broke as usual.”
“You better not be holding out on me,” he said. “Or I will shoot your ass.”
Now fear turned to panic. Not only was I going to get robbed on the richest day of my life. Now I was gonna get shot too. This sucked.
I took my chances and would never admit I had mad cash dangling in my pockets. I stared at Snatch. He stared at me with his hands in his pocket. This is where you que the dramatic music. Then he removed his hand from his pocket, cursed at me, and went back to the street corner.
I also reminded him that the King of the Corner, the neighborhood drug lord said I was off limits. He took an interest in me and told the thugs not to rob me.
Snatch stormed off
“I’m not dealing with your broke ass,” he said.
I was free and sprinted the rest of the way home. I finally made it home, gave grand mom a kiss and slipped her some money to help with groceries. Then I went to my bedroom, closed the door, and counted my money over and over again.
I’d go on in life and get better jobs. I even had a career in journalism with much bigger paychecks. But that day felt special. It felt like the richest day of my life. I earned that money. It was not given to me. And then I navigated through the sharks and thugs who wanted to take it all away.
Let me warn you. Today’s lecture might be uncomfortable for some. So turn away if you cannot handle seeing or talking about the word nigger.
Now that I am out of the spotlight I do not get called that word any more. But readers of The Detroit News routinely called me a nigger after writing a column they disagreed with. Sometimes I’d get called a nigger on my News voice mail after breaking a big story or writing something I was especially proud of.
Two guys, especially, wanted to spoil the moment, saying I must be proud of myself. They also wanted to remind me that I was a no good nigger who did not deserve my job.
Then there was the dreaded Ticket Text at 97.1 FM. Now and then you saw the word scroll across the screen. I knew it wasn’t for Mike. It was for me.
White people used to ask me “Why can’t I call you a nigger?”
Close friends or people who liked me never asked this question. It was strangers or people who thought they knew you. Now we call it the N-word.
My response was why would you want to?
It is a confusing word. You hear rappers use it. You hear younger black people use it. The older you get the less likely you are to say the word. Here is what I would say to whites.
It’s not your word. It’s not your place. It’s just different hearing that word come out of your mouth. It means you do not respect me. You do not like me. It is a sign of hatred and disrespect coming from the mouth of a white person. It was a word whites used to keep us in place and make us feel lesser than during turbulent times in our country.
I once told fellow columnist David Steele that white people called me a nigger every two to three months on average. He laughed.
“That’s all,?” he said. “White people in Michigan must really love you.”
I’ll admit I heard the word every day of my childhood. Then one day following Little League baseball tryouts a white boy called me a nigger. It sounded different. It felt different. My body temperature rose. I hit the boy and knocked him down. His father was an official with the baseball league and kicked me out because I was an undisciplined hot head.
I told the man I was a good kid. I was angry because his son called me a nigger. I thought the guy would admonish his boy and change his mind. Instead, he looked at me and said: “But you are a nigger.”
The letter kicking me out of out the baseball league came to the house three days later.
I lived in an apartment my senior year at Central Michigan University. All of my room mates went home for the weekend. Across the hall all of Amber’s roommates left for the weekend.
It was just me and Amber on the entire floor. So we decided to make dinner Saurday night. She cooked and I bought side dishes. I had a weakness for white girls in coveralls. Amber seemed to wear this combination every day. She had a flock of dirty blonde hair. She was a cutie pie. Her chipped front tooth even made her look pretty.
After dinner Amber made it clear that I could have her for dessert. I was all in for this. She straddled me and came the magical moment.
“Terry, do you know why I like you,?” she said.
I don’t know I thought. It must be my dashing good looks or my charm and wit. It was none of that.
“You are not a nigger,” Amber said.
I swear I heard a loud music scratch from the heavens. This is why some people believe you should never talk before sex. I was stunned. I know she just didn’t say that. I believed I had to take one for Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Harriet Tubman. I was no longer in the mood and left Amber and her cute flock of hair and whip ass young body.
She was stunned and wanted to know why I was so mad. How come warm relations suddenly turned cold?
“You called me a nigger,” I said.
“Actually I didn’t,” she said. “I said you were not one. I didn’t think you’d be offended.”
Amber and I never had sex, something that haunted me my entire senior year. But I got over it.
When I was in my 20s I used to visit a woman that I called Miss Lemons because she had a lemon tree in her backyard. She hung out with four Gay guys. So I went out with her friends one night at a night club. During the evening they called each other fags, queers, queens and bitches.
Do you know what I called them? Bob, Steve, Sam or whatever names their parents gave them. I never even thought to engage.
Here is the skinny on the Michigan-Michigan State football rivalry. The Spartans hate the Wolverines and it shows in their tenacity on the field. The Wolverines do not hate the Spartans, but they should.
We should all be surprised at Michigan State’s surprising 27-24 victory over Michigan Saturday afternoon. But at the same time maybe we shouldn’t.
I’ve been behind the walls of both camps. Michigan players will tell you they hate State. But you can tell they are just telling you what they were told to say. Spartans will tell you they hate the Wolverines and they mean it.
The Wolverines are the handsome frat boy that drives on campus in the Lamborghini and the girls flocking around him. We believe he is going to kick ass without him telling us. The Spartans are the ugly red-headed step child that drives the Ford Focus. He is tough as nails, but he has to prove himself week after week. We never believe in him until he is standing atop the Big Ten standings.
Here is reality. State has won two Big Ten titles under the divisional format and been to three championship games. Michigan has not won a Big Ten title outright since 2003.
The days of Bo and Woody and the Big Two and Little Eight are long gone. Michigan can no longer roll the football out with superior talent and win. The Wolverines must also add superior coaching, passion and a little hatred to the brew. The blue bloods fail too often.
Defensive coordinator Don Brown and Harbaugh have not figured out Ohio State’s running game and crossing patterns. On Saturday over matched corners were left to whither as they chased the Spartans Ricky White (eighth receptions, 196 yards and a touchdown).
State’s defense turned vicious again.
Harbaugh’s contract expires following the 2021 season and Ohio State, Penn State and MSU are hoping Athletic Director Warde Manuel keeps his word and awards him with a lifetime contract.
Jimmy is 3-3 against MSU, an appalling 0-5 against Ohio State and 1-4 in bowl games as Michigan head coach.
Friday night dinner in the Saxe-Herrig, Woldt-Emmons dining room was the best.
We’d always pile in around 5:45 pm, just before the ladies in the white aprons and head covering would stop serving. Big Lou, Mexican Roy, Deuce, Leonard Guitar Kravitz, Grunt and Sophia would all roll in loud, hungry and drunk.
The Wayside always opened early Friday and we took advantage of beer specials that were appealing to college students looking for a bargain. We’d spend a few hours drinking and dancing, then take the short walk to the dining area before it closed at 6 pm.
Workers always grimaced when we rolled in. We wanted to sit, talk and laugh. Workers wanted to hurry home to be with their families for the weekend.
Freshman fun. My son is missing out on that.
One of my talents as a freshman at Central Michigan University was timing jokes that would make Mexican Roy blow food out of his nose. I did not get him every time, but I was proud of my 70 percent success rate.
My proudest moment came when I got Roy to blow a Whopper out of his nose at Burger King — lettuce and all.
“I hate you Terry Foster,” he’d scream at me while the rest of us rolled in laughter.
Freshman fun. My son is missing out.
The other day I helped my son Brandon bag fall leaves at the house. I felt sorry for him. He should be a freshman living in the dorm at Michigan State University, having the same fun and games his dad did at CMU.
Many parents are in the same boats. Our kids are missing the adventure of a life time. They should be laughing and joking with friends, meeting one on one with professors, and gaining their Freshman 15.
Instead, they are at home studying on line, putting up with mom and dad’s house rules. We put up a couple of Spartan banners to remind Brandon of school. But it’s not the same. He’s missing out on fun in the dorm, food fights in the cafeteria, late night games of pool and table tennis. Holding a girls hand during a brisk walk across campus.
My freshman year we formed an Intramural flag football team called the Saxe Rats because we lived in the terrace. And none of us were the second coming of Barry Sanders. We were so happy to be playing in a winner take all divisional game. However, we lost badly and I broke my thumb.
That night a bunch of us gathered in my neighbor Grunt’s room and took shots of Kessler’s whiskey. The bottle said “Smooth as Silk.” It felt like we were drinking alcohol infused sand paper. Smooth as silk my ass.
It didn’t matter that we lost that night or that I broke my thumb. I was with my boys Grunt, Hot and Juicy, the Pinckney Boys, the Zucchini Brothers and Fart Goat. They were supporting me when I was down and injured.
Freshman fun. My son does not get to experience this.
My son wanted to attend fall football games at Spartan Stadium, sit in the Izzone during basketball season, cheer on the Spartans and celebrate every University of Michigan defeat. He wanted to meet new friends in the dorm, study with students he met in class and just get away from mom and dad.
I feel him. My freshman year was filled with more fun than any year in college. We were independent for the first time although we still depended on the family for money and moral support.
I looked forward to packing up his clothes and driving him to school, shopping for supplies at Meijer and Wal-Mart. And filling his room with cool Spartan posters for his dorm room.
However, when this pandemic hit we began to debate the merits of sending him to East Lansing. We believed residence halls would become super spreaders and we did not want Brandon spreading Covid to me or my wife when he returned home for Thanksgiving break.
We knew not to send him when MSU President Samuel L. Stanley said if you don’t have to come to campus, don’t. One of my friends sent his freshman son to MSU to live in an apartment. He said his son is having a miserable time. He doesn’t know anybody, many of the fun places are closed and its not the same atmosphere many of us enjoyed our freshman year.
Brandon wakes up mid mornings, showers, returns to his bedroom and sits at his desk surrounded by Spartan posters and begins school. His outlets are afternoon drives and stops at Chic Fila, Chipotle and the apple orchard.
He doesn’t complain much, but the boy must be miserable. Now and then he blurts out that he is going to school in January no matter what we say. That of course is not true. He will go to school in January only if we say.
I want the brother out my house. I want him to experience what I experienced. I’d like to know what its like to be in an empty house with wife Abs. We have not experience much of that. We got married in the fall. Eleven months later came baby Celine, who is now a senior at Stanford.
Celine went nuts her freshman year by joining a bunch of clubs, becoming class president and Vice President of a woman’s business group. She loves going to L&L, a spot that serves Hawaiian food, and a dumpy Mexican restaurant that doesn’t even have a sign in front. But the food is delicious.
I cannot wait for the day that we load up the car and take Brandon to his dorm room on campus. Better late than never.
This is Michigan-Michigan State week where Spartans and Wolverines trade barbs and make fun of each other right up to Saturday’s noon kick off at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor.
It is one of my favorite weeks of the year because it is a build up of an annual civil war that I’ve enjoyed a unique observational perch. I’ve been welcomed and ridiculed on both sides of the aisle as a journalist that got to peek inside both programs.
I also did a radio show for 13 years with one of the biggest Sparty boosters and bashers in Mike Valenti. I also did a radio show with Art Regner who lived and died with every Michigan win and defeat. I’ve lived in Ann Arbor, married into a Spartan family. Both sides have pushed for me to root for their programs. I refuse.
I remain a state of Michigan man. In other words when the state of Michigan does well I do well. My view of the rivalry is simple. Give me one entertaining football game a year and two entertaining basketball games a year. I don’t care who wins.
If Michigan wins on Saturday my day will be made. If Michigan State wins this Saturday my day will be made. I do not cheer for Michigan touchdowns. I do not groan following MSU fumbles or interceptions.
Just entertain me.
I’ve been told I cannot think that way, that everybody in this state takes sides and rides with a team. That is simply not true.
Most people in this state pick a side. But there are thousands in the state who do not. There are even folks who don’t know when the game is being played.
College athletics did not play a major role in my childhood. Adults did not talk about Michigan or Michigan State. The kids were more focused on the Pistons and Tigers. I only went to one Michigan game as a youth. And No Spartan games.
My Spartan family can become annoying at times. My brother in law Big Ralph wears maize and blue Appalachian State T-shirt to poke fun at the Wolverines historic 2007 loss. Sometimes my wife Abs screams “Go Green” to me. I guess I am supposed to retort with an enthusiastic “Go White”. I simply pat her on the head and go about my business.
She gets mad at me.
One day she suckered me into attending a Michigan State pep rally in Chicago before a MSU-Northwestern game I was assigned to cover. She wanted me to clap when they sang the MSU fight song. I refused.
She got mad at me.
I dated a Wolverine who was studying to be a doctor. She screamed “go blue” until she turned blue in the face. I never said “Go blue” back.
She got mad at me.
Now here is where you get mad at me. I am going to list a few Michigan-Michigan State trade marks and tell you which school is best.
BEST FOOTBALL STADIUM: Michigan Stadium: The seats are too small, but a slight edge goes to the Big House. There is just something about seeing the big oval packed with fans on a Saturday afternoon.
BEST BASKETBALL ARENA: Breslin Center: This is a great arena that is enhanced by the product on the floor and the rabid fans in the Izzone. Michigan’s Crisler Arena is too dark and too quiet. Even players admit it. I do a podcast with Fab Five guard Jimmy King and he told me they were the ones that pushed for the student section to be moved from the upper deck to a lower tier to liven up the place.
BEST GAME TAILGATE: Michigan: This one is really close. The tie breaker is the parking lot at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School and the university golf course. They could be cooking prime rib and lobsterniversity . It used to be more lively in East Lansing but MSU has cracked down with no fun party pooper policies.
BEST FANS: Michigan State: There are too many butt wipes in both fan bases and they can both be annoying. Here is the tie breaker. Hang out with Spartans at a spots bar. And then hang out with Wolverines. You are likely going to have a better time with the Spartans. They buy more shots, sing the fight song more and tip better.
The Wolverines are more responsible, but are less fun. A piece of advice. Loosen up your polo shirts just a tad.