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Work of Art — Now that’s a gentleman

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By Art Trujillo

It was a great feeling, reading the letter by a true gentleman. And maybe a scholar too, who wrote articulately, in a balanced manner and laid the blame at the altar of politicians.

Let me explain: The letter writer’s identify is still a secret, but we do know that he’s a wrestler from Rio Grande High School in Albuquerque who was in the middle of an exam at the time the court case he was involved in was taking place. That made it impossible for him to attend the court hearing; his attorney read the letter for him.

To review: Several weeks ago, a champion high school wrestler named Nick Chavez, it is alleged, took money from a smaller wrestling teammate in the high school cafeteria. When the victim asked for the money back, which he needed to pay for a school exam, he earned a slap in the face, observed by a school security guard. That earned the bully a suspension that essentially would have made the bigger, stronger wrestler ineligible for the state wrestling tournament, coming up that weekend.

But not to worry: There are always politicians around to jump in.
Art de la Cruz, a Bernalillo County commissioner; State Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque; and Analee Maestas, an APS board member, all used their considerable clout to make sure things were handled fairly and correctly. Chavez’s family took the matter to court, where District Court Judge Clay Campbell reversed the school district’s action, allowing Chavez to compete in the wrestling tournament, which he won.

End of story.

Not quite.

The victim said he’d received phone calls and tweets from people who told him he should lie about what happened. Why? Rio Grande High School has a good chance to win state. Why ruin that chance? The senator, commissioner and school board member assured the public they got involved simply to make sure there was “due process.”

But for whom?

Partisans continued to downplay the incident, which resulted in the younger wrestler’s lunch tray being flipped over, calling it boys-will-be-boys-type horseplay.
But quite lucidly, the victim asked in his letter, read in court last week, “When is it OK to call a robbery, assault and battery ‘horseplay’ and get a judge to block the school’s policies?”

He goes on, “I am still wondering how politicians, and people who want us young people to respect them were so quickly willing to throw out everything they teach us about honor, integrity, character, and especially all this stuff they keep saying about how they oppose bullying — when all of those principles become inconvenient.”

The letter writer wishes future success to Chavez, adding he’s glad Chavez was allowed to compete in the state tournament, and that he’s proud to be a Raven.

Now that’s showing real class!

What isn’t classy is the meddling of the elected officials who insist they simply wanted fairness to all sides. When was the last time you called a judge and implored, “Please conduct a fair trial?” Or when did someone stop a referee before an important West-East basketball game to remind him to “be sure all your calls are fair and balanced”?

• • •

A few years back, Jane Quintana, a Highlands University secretary, emailed an item on that tiny word “up.” Hers was the first of many submissions I’ve received. Got one again yesterday.

The email refers to the many uses of “up,” even when this preposition (sometimes adverb) has nothing to do with direction. For example, we may say, “Push the ladder up,” meaning a direction, but it’s not the same for, say, “He shut up,” which doesn’t refer to direction at all.

The many uses of “up” tend more to denote concluding actions, some kind of finality, than vertical motion.

In a column responding to Jane Quintana’s submission, I quoted an example of other uses of “up,” including, “stop up,” “open up,” “wrap up,” “speak up” and “heat up.”

These uses don’t allude to things rising, except perhaps temperatures. And just out of curiosity, Judee Williams set out to compile a list of such terms. She added expressions like “ante up,” to start a poker game, “‘fess up,” to admit guilt and “seal up,” to cover.
Her count of “up” expressions came close to a hundred. And also out of curiosity, I compiled my own list without referring to Judee’s. Mine totals 127. Does anybody else care to join the competition? Judee, of course, didn’t know at the time I’d be trying to top her list, so if she’s up to adding to it, that would be great.

All who have lots of free time are welcome to write up their own lists. So, why not join up?

It’s up to you.

• • •

One person in town who apparently didn’t really need a last name was my aunt Manuelita, my mom’s younger sister and soul-mate. Manuelita died a few days ago at the age of 98. She’d been cared for in Colorado by her daughters, Olivia and Ernestina. A large number of her relatives and friends, and especially members of the local Catholic Daughters of America, were at Immaculate Conception Church to send her off.

She was well-enough known in town to get by without needing a last name, but in case you missed it, it’s Lucero.

Love you and miss you, Tia!

Art Trujillo is a copy editor at the Optic and a contributing member of the newspaper’s Editorial Board. He may be reached by calling 425-6796 or by e-mail to artbt@rezio.net or atrujillo@lasvegasoptic.com.