I recently was having a phone conversation with my friend Tyrone. We were talking about parenting. It was probably a tangent of a discussion about some noise from the internet, such as an athlete acting inappropriately. Tyrone mentioned doing something with his kids that I felt might not be considered great parenting. As usual, he took umbrage.
I told him that I was not suggesting he was a horrible parent. My exact comment was, “I’m not saying that you are Joel Steinberg. But I’m also not saying that you are Ward Cleaver. In case you don’t know or recall, Joel Steinberg was convicted of unspeakable acts of child abuse and ultimately murder of his young daughter Lisa. Tyrone’s response surprised me. He said, “So, that means I’m in the middle of the pack.” Now it was my turn to take offense.
“The middle of the pack? That’s a pretty big pack,” I said. “True,” he replied, “but if I’m not the worst, and I’m not the best, I’m still technically in the middle of the pack.” I told him he was nuts and went on to explain to him how statistics worked including mean, median, and mode, as well as the bell-shaped curve and standard deviation.
Tyrone was steadfast in his position about, well, his position. I continued to mock his interpretation of his parenting, but he remained entrenched in his delusion. Sometime later, we were discussing a woman that we both agree to be a pretty despicable parent. I related a positive story I had heard about the woman and Tyrone said, “I guess that proves that no one is all bad.”
He had unknowingly just exposed his Queen. He was going to be checkmated, but hadn’t realized it yet. I said, “So, you’re saying that she’s no Susan Smith, who drowned her children, but she’s no June Cleaver either? Well, I guess that puts her squarely in the middle of the pack…with you, Tyrone.”
I could hear him sputtering over the phone.