An Inexplicable Apology

March 2002

Good writers are like painters. They paint captivating pictures with mere words — colorful pictures with only black ink. Case in point: In his column in Our Sunday Visitor (Nov. 11, 2001), J.F. Pisani tells us about a 50th wedding anniversary party he and his wife attended at a restaurant: “I sat at a table with two older couples and several elderly women, whom I assumed were aunts of the family. It seems that unmarried or widowed aunts populate these family events, like matriarchs in search of a royal court. They’re always offering advice and telling their nieces and nephews how to live….” In your mind’s eye, you see the picture — especially if you’ve been there, done that. That phrase, “like matriarchs in search of a royal court,” is masterful; it speaks a thousand snapshots, and more (and excuses his use of “whom” when it should be “who”).

Pisani continues: “I was reasonably sure that, before the night was over, I would have to ask an aunt or two to dance as part of my social responsibility — or as a corporal work of mercy.” Ah, just so.

Now, that’s good writing — evocative and delightfully amusing. And honest.

But then comes the December 9 Our Sunday Visitor with a scolding letter from Jacqueline Osowski: “Shame on you, J.F. Pisani, for the chauvinistic and uncharitable remarks you wrote….” Osowski is leveling an ad hominem attack here, for she doesn’t bother to attempt refuting anything Pisani said, but is only maligning his character.


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New Oxford Notes: March 2002

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