Minnows or Manhood
Or Scent of a Woman....

My daily life revolves around less than a handful of work items. I teach, I write, and I care for Ginger, who is my 60-pound Irish Setter puppy who is 10-months old today.

While Ginger and I love each other, it is difficult to communicate to her that I need to do other things than play with her all the time. Several weeks ago, I promised her that if she would chew on one of her thousand bones that litter the house or play with her many toys, we would watch a movie later that evening. It was a simple deal. If she would let me finish up some essays and do some grading, she would get my undivided attention watching an old movie.

Ginger bought the deal, but, when the time came to decide on the movie we would watch, she worried and pondered over what movie to watch. As chance would have it, I happened to come across Al Pacino’s Scent of a Woman, which was over a quarter century old. Ginger asked, “Scent of a Woman? Well, I’m young and can smell scents quite well.”

Ginger is correct about being able to smell. It truly amazes me, since I can’t smell much of anything due to having rhinoplasty, which allows me to be able to breathe more easily. However, an unfortunate byproduct of that surgery is that it radically diminishes my ability to smell, even though I can breathe. Then I told Ginger about Frank Slade, who was a retired Army Ranger who could smell when he wasn’t drunk.

That offhanded comment confused Ginger. It took me awhile to explain Slade had the ability to recognize women’s perfumes. So, Ginger decided that she wanted to watch Scent of a Woman. I got my diet cherry Dr. Pepper, made some popcorn, and gave Ginger a pig ear to chew on as we watched the film.

Slade and Charlie

After I finished several fistfuls of popcorn and Ginger devoured the pig ear, we got to the place in the film where Slade smells the scent of a woman, Donna.


Slade was able to recognize Ogilive Sister's Soap, which is technically a facial soap more than a perfume. Regardless, Ginger seemed impressed with Slade’s nose for scents.

After Charlie returned Slade to his home at the end of the movie, Ginger and I sat and talked about the movie. I merely asked Ginger if she liked the flic. Ginger’s answer was a long reply. “I could identify with Slade and his ability to smell. I can smell nearly everything. When we are out together in your car, sometimes, you will leave me in the car while you run into the store to get something. I’ll jump into the driver’s side seat where you had been. Your scent reminds me of you when you are gone. Actually, that’s why I jump up on your bed when you aren’t around; it is reassuring to me.

“However, I think the movie was misnamed albeit I like the scene when Slade and Donna tango....”

It takes two to tango.

I interrupted Ginger by asking what name would she prefer? Ginger paused a moment as she thought.

“You know, the line in the movie where Slade is defending Charlie before the board at the Baird...‘Now I don't know who went to this place--William Howard Taft, William Jennings Bryan, William Tell—whoever. Their spirit is dead; if they ever had one, it's gone. You're building a rat ship here. A vessel for sea going snitches. And if you think you're preparing these minnows for manhood you better think again. Because I say you are killing the very spirit this institution proclaims it instills.’ I suspect that the title of the film should be Minnows or Manhood.”

I was caught off guard by Ginger’s idea, since I have gotten used to the old title over the past quarter century.

Ginger continued, “I’m surprised that you are a tad bit confused by my idea of Minnows or Manhood. You’ve been teaching for as long as that film has been out. Remember this scene?

Minnows or Manhood

“You teach your classes about the two grades your students will get for taking the class. They are concerned about the grade you send to the registrar. You tell them that the grade isn’t important at all. However, the grade that society gives the student based upon their ability to think is far more critically important. Slade wants Charlie to do well in life, and you want the same for your students. You don’t want your students to become minnows in life.”

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