Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hire a driver!

And now, here come the apologies!  Michael Phelps, the all time record holder for winning Olympic gold medals, was arrested early Tuesday morning here in Baltimore - his home town, and mine - for DUI.  Someone told him to tweet Phelps tweeted that he was "deeply sorry to everyone I have let down. I understand the severity of my actions and take full responsibility. I know these words may not mean much right now but I am deeply sorry to everyone I have let down."

Ah, but Michael, this is the second time you have let everyone down! This is the second time Phelps has been arrested on drunken-driving charges. The first time was in 2004 after he competed at the Athens Olympics. A judge let him off and he went around lecturing to high school students in his curiously adenoidal voice about the horrible mistake he made and will never make again until the next time.

This is the next time, Phelps having been pinched for driving under the influence (his blood alcohol content nearly twice the legal limit), excessive speed (84 in a 45-mph zone) and crossing double lane lines in the Fort McHenry Tunnel freeway on Interstate 95. Just two weeks ago, he showed up at Fort McHenry for the big doin's celebrating the bicentennial of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner.

Well now, as people now do in a time of celebrity turmoil, folks rushed to Facebook, Twitter and other outlets to express themselves.  Some people who must still have chlorine clouding their vision were backing up the swimmer, saying that "everyone has done that! So it's ok!"  One fool wrote to me and said that "you're not cool until you've had a DUI charge."

There is no fool like a young fool, and I refer to both that writer and Phelps, who is 29 now and really ought to look into growing up a little, maybe even a lot.  And here's why.  I don't give a hoot about the time he was pictured hooving on a big bong at a party. If he wants to use marijuana, I don't care if he smokes a barnful a week.

Just don't drive!

And I don't care how drunk he gets.  He can pickle his liver as much as he sees fit every night.

Just don't drive!

People around here, and as I always point out, I share a height (6' 5") and a birthday (June 30) and a high school (Towson High!) with Phelps, are quick to forgive him because he brought worldwide acclaim to our town.  And they say, well, when the other kids were out having fun as teenagers, he was swimming four hours before school and then more after school and he never had the time to hang with the other cats and chicks.  This is true, and his hard work has paid off in 22 Olympic medals, endorsement deals that have made him a wealthy, wealthy man, and a celebrity lifestyle that many seem to envy.

But he needs to realize that someday, he just might kill a family coming home from church, or cause deaths in some other horrible situation.  He might even kill or maim himself, for that matter.

So Michael, my lad, my fellow General, this doesn't seem to be getting through to you, but here's the deal: people were willing to give you another shot because "everyone makes mistakes," but you went and did it again, son, so you ought to be punished.

Just like the other kids were in high school, but you missed all that, being in the pool.

No comments: