Sylvia Undergoes Tough Questioning
August 12, 2001

“Is it true, Ms. Sylvia” asked Pat Schillinger, “that you called Mr. Anand a dope?”

Sylvia recalled her conversation with Anand last week. He had driven up from Milwaukee for the weekend and they had discussed purchasing cars. In the course of their banter, she had referred to him as a dope. And now the city leaders, having got wind of it, had called her in for questioning.

Sylvia stared at the array of interlocutors facing her across the mahogany desk. There sat, in addition to Mr. Schillinger, Mayor Paul Jadin, Brown County Executive Nancy Nusbaum, Councilman Guy Zima and radio personality Bill LuMay. Anand was here in the room too, seated in a corner. He appeared to be relishing the affair, thought Sylvia.

Pat was waiting for an answer. Sylvia looked at him, and said, “Yes, Mr. Schillinger, it is true. I did call Mr. Anand a dope.”

There was a gasp in the room. Sylvia's bluntness had taken the audience by surprise.

“Are you aware,” continued Pat relentlessly, “that Mr. Anand has tendered a bid, in fact the only bid, to develop an office-cum-residential complex in downtown Green Bay?”


“And do you realize that by calling Mr. Anand, our potential benefactor, a dope, you may have jeopardized our chances of attracting his investment?”

A strangled sound emerged from the mayor's direction, but Sylvia ignored it. “I doubt it,” she said. “Whether Mr. Anand chooses to invest in Green Bay depends on the return on his investment, not whether I called him a dope or not.”

The mayor could hold himself back no longer. He sprang from his chair, gesticulating at Sylvia. “I will not have you maligning our guest from Milwaukee in this manner! In the past, your truculence has driven away several investors from our city, but I shall not stand for it any longer!”

He sat down suddenly, seemingly surprised by his outburst. After a moment of stunned silence, somebody in the back clapped. “Hear, hear,” said the unknown worthy.

Guy Zima interceded on behalf of Sylvia. “If some moron wants to invest in downtown Green Bay, he should do it. But the city should not pay a cent for it.” His voice fairly crackled with emotion. “The Green Bay taxpayer–“ Sylvia thought he was about to pound the desk with his fist on behalf of the hapless Green Bay taxpayer, but he pulled himself back in time “--should not have to subsidize real estate developers from Milwaukee! If they are idiotic enough to undertake the project themselves, let ‘em do it, but they shouldn't get one red cent from the city!”

Anand jumped a bit. He was being called a moron and an idiot. Should he walk out now? No, he decided, he would wait for further developments. He noticed a brief smile hovering on Sylvia's lips.

Nancy Nusbaum sought to convey her disapproval of Sylvia's language. “As a conservative Republican, like Bill Bennett, I am disgusted by the coarsening of our culture, the use of profanity in public discourse—“

Her aide tapped her on the shoulder urgently. A quick whisper was exchanged. Nancy appeared a little flustered, but she continued, “–well, I am no longer a Republican, but as a Democrat, like Joe Lieberman, I feel that Hollywood's insidious influence on our children has made life very difficult for parents...” Sensing that she had strayed from the topic, she concluded by saying that she was very disappointed by what Sylvia had said.

Bill LuMay was next. “This is what happens when liberals come to power. They raise our taxes to renovate football stadiums, build trails in people's backyards, allow homosexuality to run rampant, and permit people like Sylvia to call people she disagrees with dopes. What we need, ladies and gentlemen”–he briefly slipped into his talk-show host demeanor– “is a return to basic American values, and President Bush is the man to do it!”

Sylvia looked at Anand. His discomfiture had passed, and he was enjoying the proceedings once again. He winked at her. She tried not to smile.

“Well,” said Pat, “there is only one thing to do now. Ms. Sylvia, you must offer an apology to Mr. Anand.”

A pregnant silence hung over the room. The sentence having been passed, the audience was agog. How would the defendant respond?

“Mr. Schillinger, is it enough to say ‘I am sorry'?” asked Sylvia (a little too sweetly, thought Anand). “Or, do I have to submit the apology in writing, perhaps to be duly published in the Press-Gazette?”

“A verbal apology will suffice,” said Pat stiffly. He looked over at Guy Zima who nodded imperceptibly. “Yes,” he repeated, “saying sorry is enough.”

“Well,” drawled Sylvia...

At that instant, the clock alarm rang, and Sylvia woke up. Boy, that was some weird dream. She must remember to call up Anand and tell him about it. He would get a laugh out of it–the crazy coot. Oops...

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