Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What was he thinking?

Lapses in judgment can fall within a wide spectrum. There’s your simple gaff (forgetting a date’s name, say), the cardinal error (defending yourself by remarking that you never remember a woman’s name) and the certifiably blockheaded (trying to break the tension with a few jokes that Howard Stern wouldn’t touch).

And then there’s the blunder that belongs in a whole other league, if not a different dimension. Like deciding to hold a fund-raiser for a high-profile attempted-murder suspect who drove cross-country in a diaper to attack a potential rival for a co-worker’s attentions, earning herself near-universal designation as a lunatic. The people to whom she’s close, you decide, are going to be your beneficiaries. Even worse, you go ahead with the event even after the planning triggers a nationwide uproar of indignation.

Some might admire Silvestro’s restaurant in Cocoa Beach, Fla., for ignoring public opinion and doing what it thinks is right. But most of us just marvel and wonder, why? Why do you hold a charity dinner for former space-shuttle crewmember Lisa Marie Nowak after she’s accused of plotting a brutal murder out of jealousy, in an alleged fashion that leads the tabloids to christen her the astro-nut?

Proprietor Tony Bless said he wanted to stand by Nowak during her time of need, and noted how she’d been kind to his staff while eating in his place after her shuttle mission had returned to Earth. So he hosted 70 patrons on Sunday night to raise funds for Nowak’s family, negative publicity be damned. He didn’t say how much the event generated (Bless didn’t respond to calls or e-mails from Nation’s Restaurant News), but pre-dinner projections estimated the proceeds at $3,000.

Couldn’t he have just sent the family a nice fruit basket, or maybe a gift certificate?

Granted, he’s helping the woman’s family, and God knows they’re likely to need assistance and moral support after Nowak bumped Anna Nicole Smith’s death off the front page. But did he have to let word out, or even cooperate with the media in spreading it?

The intention might have been noble. But the judgement—well, did you hear the one about a shepherd, three Vegas dancers and Hugh Grant?

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