MargaretNo doubt about it! This has been, and continues to be, one crazy year. Whether you were thrilled or devastated by the outcome of the 2016 elections, almost all of us can agree that it was a year — and more — replete with twists and turns and a grand finale that took even pollsters by surprise. And, a la Al Franken’s first U.S. Senate race in Minnesota, some races are still too close to call, leaving everyone from candidates to voters in governmental limbo.

Elections were not the only weird situations this year, though.

Take the concept of global warming. It matters not whether one is fur it or agin it, global warming is a fact. Average temperatures are heading up, ice is melting and oceans are rising. Scientific numbers are indisputable in that regard. What is at issue is why this is happening — whether warming temperatures are caused by human activities or whether they are just part of some natural weather cycle that has not been seen in so many thousands or millions of years that we really do not know about it. It is also possible that both are factors.

We persist, however, in talking about global warming as if it were up for debate. We have turned it into a political issue as if any of our elected officials of any partisan stripe can do a darn thing about it. All we can do about it is react to it, and some of us continue to pretend it is not happening when it clearly is. It reminds me of the Precious Jewel who repeatedly denied eating contraband cookies when he had chocolate crumbs all over this face.

If the difference between men and boys is the price of their toys, then Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel could be thought of as large boys. On Veteran’s Day weekend, a group of bikers, vets themselves, found The Boss alongside a New Jersey roadway, a broken down motorcycle by his side. It was a no go getting the downed bike going again, so The Boss hopped on the back of one of his rescuers’ bikes and rode off to a local watering hole until his ride arrived to take him home. Elsewhere, Springsteen’s friend Billy Joel heard the news and thought, “Oh, dear!” or something along that line. He called The Boss to ask whether the offending bike was the one Joel, also a biker, had built and given to his great chum. Indeed it was, though that particular motorcycle was obviously not born to run.

Thanksgiving weekend found The Boss and Joel performing together at Madison Square Garden, where Joel told the audience “no good deed goes unpunished.”

And, finally, did you hear about the Jacksonville, N.C. holiday parade? 

Like countless such parades across the nation, local businesses fielded floats populated by beauty queens, cute as bugs-in-rugs children and waving Santas. Jacksonville’s parade had an unusual entry from Studio 360 Pole Fitness, Dance and Gym. No adorable tots or jolly Santas on that float, though. Instead there were — you guessed it! — pole dancers. Studio 360 owner, Brianna Jones, says the float did exactly what she wanted it to do — got folks talking about pole fitness.

Owens says she has lost over 100 pounds through pole fitness, and while that may be true, not everyone found the float family friendly. The News and Observer quoted a church youth minister as saying he had to avert his little ones’ eyes lest they spot something they should not. 

Meanwhile, Owens informed N&O columnist Barry Sanders that the float was educational, introducing parade watchers to pole fitness. She is even planning a “mommy and me” pole fitness class, though I am relieved I never had to confront that particular option. She concedes that some of her students are exotic dancers honing their skills and reminds us that that many dancers have other titles, like “wife” and “mom.” Owens told Saunders pole fitness can benefit anyone, including the Pole Dance American 2013 champion, a guy, whom she coached to the top prize.

Saunders, one of my favorite columnists with a wry and clever sense of humor, penned this little ditty after his interview with Owens.

“T’was the night before Christmas and Grampa was feeling quite chipper

“He was in the next room entertaining some strippers

“I crept as quiet as a mouse and peered through the keyhole

“And to my surprise they were all on a pole.

“They were pirouetting and twerking, they were shaking and such

“Too bad I didn’t have any pearls I could clutch.

“I ran down the hall yelling for grandma to come see

“But when I told on Grampa she just laughed at me

“Your grampa may be old, she said, and he’s sowed his last oat

“At least I thought he had until he saw that darned float.”

Remember, there are Marines of all ages in Jacksonville.

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