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Friday, June 2, 2023


The Octogenarian: Different times empower different set of heroes


Lisa Falkenberg stopped by The Cougar last year for a brown bag discussion. | File photo/The Cougar

When I was a boy, hero worship was kind of common. In fact, my first two personal heroes were Tom Mix and William S. Boyd.

Mix was sort of the first motion picture cowboy hero back in the days when talkie movies were just becoming popular. Boyd was better known on the screen as Hopalong Cassidy, a cowboy hero who seemed to smile even when he was drawing down on the black-hatted bad guys.

Fortunately, my hero taste has evolved with time as I have grown.

A few days back, I had the opportunity to hear one of my modern-day heroes, Lisa Falkenberg, a newspaper columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner.

Falkenberg was the guest speaker at a conference held by the Anti-Defamation League Women’s Initiative, and she turned out to be as interesting a speaker as she is a writer.

Now, I am aware that not many of my fellow college students are newspaper readers. I am, and let me tell you — you don’t know what you are missing.

You can get flashy, doctored breaking news headlines from TV and radio, but you miss out on the fun of learning the full, in-depth story, reported and written by professional journalists. I enjoy the editorials; it is not that they change my mind, but no matter what angle they write from, they supply food for thought.

But now, I have to tell you the second most interesting thing that happened to me at this meeting.

I was seated at a table with six women. To my left, a truly outstanding human being, my wife. To my right, two executives, the head of a well-known Houstonian social organization used by many and one of her assistants.

To their right sat a female attorney from a powerful law firm, and she was with another powerful lady, a banker.

There was a lot of female power, but the topic of conversation at the table was more important. The attorney and the banker let us know that after being together for 12 years they were thrilled to have finally been able to marry in the state of Texas, in their own church, by their minister the previous October.

This caused the woman who works with a nonprofit to explain what brought her to Texas after her marriage to her significant other, also a woman, in New England.

Now mind you, I wasn’t much into this conversation, but I was sitting there thrilled beyond belief that here was a topic that we could not even discuss, not only in my youth, but as short a time as 20 years ago. Here I was surrounded by six beautiful female minds, chatting away about their personal lives just as smoothly and easily as housewives did back in the ’40s.

I sat there almost in tears, so thrilled was I by the changes that God has wrought in my world. And what a lucky human being I was that day to make the contacts I made with the alleged weaker sex.

As the father of six daughters, two or three of whom are older than any woman at that table, and having spent that day surrounded by the absolute best in female pulchritude, I say to the female population: you go girls. Bless you all.

Opinion columnist Ken Levin is a political science senior and may be reached at [email protected]

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