Mar 31, 2021

Confessions of a Selfish Walnut

Did a windshield note inspire an episode of self-reflection? No

By Ed Goldman

According to a reliable though anonymous source, I’m a ”selfish walnut.”

The accusation was leveled at me a few weeks ago when I took what I thought was the last available parking space at the Jensen Botanical Garden in the town of Fair Oaks, California, just outside the capital but still in Sacramento County.

Edgy Cartoon

A Non-Grace Note

It had rained for a few days and the space I nabbed involved some mild peril: Due to a puddle underneath my car vast enough to inspire sea shanties, we had to climb out the passenger side and walk around the front of the car to reach terra semi-firma. Yes, it was already quite a land-and-sea adventure and we hadn’t seen a single botanical specimen yet.

What I didn’t realize until I returned to the car about 90 minutes later was that I’d inadvertently blocked some additional, even more waterlogged spaces. I was called out for my callous oversight by a hand-written note on my windshield which read, in full, “You parked blocking more parking space you selfish walnut.”

Okay, maybe “space” should have been plural, though the area referenced was so unmarked and amorphous that calling it space rather than spaces didn’t strike me as a crime against literacy. And I suppose a comma between “space” and “you selfish walnut” would have been appropriate, but let’s face it, the point of language is to communicate.And I got the message, loud and clear. I was—as Charles Dickens’s immortal Mister Bumble in “Oliver Twist” called the law—”A ass.”

What I found charming about the note was its avoidance of profanity. It sounded like something little kids who hadn’t yet learned to curse might call one another. Or what an elementary-school teacher, thwarted from getting a space for her SUV while hauling a group of overly juice-boxed students to the venue, might have written to demonstrate to her young charges that indignation is an acceptable reaction but must be modulated.

On the other hand, maybe the comment was reminiscent of a more innocent era, when one’s swearing arsenal included epithets such as dang, goldarn, dadgummit and Jeez Louise. The latter also being the wardrobe and name of a very tasteful exotic dancer at the local strip joint, Neuters.

My least likely theory: The note writer was a visiting intergalactic tourist on whose home planet (Juglandaceae*), walnuts are death tokens you wouldn’t wish on even your worst enemy. (*For younger readers: This is the unpronounceable name of the walnut genus.)

Then again, BBC News recently reported, “Walnuts are the healthiest of all the nuts and should be eaten more as part of a healthy diet.” So is it conceivable that the disgruntled, would-be parker was actually sending me a mixed signal—that I was apparently a very healthy person who should have known better than to compromise my sense of well-being by engaging in selfish behavior?

It’s certainly food for thought, as they say. I think I’ll mention it to the guys tonight when I join them for Monday Nite Happy Hour at Neuters. Jeez Louise is booked.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).

Yes, Virginia

A Weekly Blog by Virginia Varela

President and CEO, Golden Pacific Bank

photo by Phoebe Verkouw

March is International Women’s Month—and even though we have only one day left in the month, this still remains a time to reflect on women that were leaders in history.

There are many women that deservedly have stories that will be told and retold. Names and faces that will not be forgotten. I love women change makers and ground breakers. Women like:

  • Abagail Adams, one of the first and fiercest advocates of women’s equal education and property rights. She also thought married women should play as active a role in decision-making as their husbands. Hers, John Adams, happened to be President of the United States;
  • Susan B. Anthony, the women’s rights activist who did more for the women’s suffrage movement than anyone else, starting as a teenagers who collected petitions calling for an end to slavery. Her contributions also earned her the posthumous honor of being on a U.S. one-dollar coin;
  • Dorothy Day, a journalist, who went from a free-wheeling, artsy youth into Catholicism—without abandoning her (considered at the time) radicalism;
  • Sojourner Truth, the former slave who boldly spoke for abolition, and civil rights in the nineteenth century. Her book attracted the attention of the well-known reader President Abraham Lincoln, who invited her to meet him at the White House; and
  • Rosa Parks, the acknowledged mother of the civil rights movement who refused to cede her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, an act that sparked the 1965 Montgomery Bus Boycott, which drew 17,000 black citizens.

I would like to also reflect on all the unnamed unrecognized women throughout history that persevered through challenges, silently and humbly being moms, eking out livings, working hard to support others, loving fiercely. To all my female friends sisters colleagues I blow you a gentle kiss and blessing of thanks and respect for holding on and keeping it real.

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