Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

Me too.

One of my favorite columnists, Robert Kirby, was recently suspended by the Salt Lake Tribune for alleged inappropriate behavior. He is just the latest in a long line of men who have been terminated or suspended after a woman accused them of harassing her. Harassment is never okay.

So I am compelled to speak out.

I harassed Robert Kirby.

It was about ten years ago and I was doing contract work for the Salt Lake Tribune. I had a desk in the newsroom, and as I was setting it up Kirby came around and introduced himself. I was just one of many temporary writers who came through the newsroom, but I had been a fan of his writings for many years. I saw his head above my desk, and stood up to meet him. He shook my hand and I found myself staring at him, at a loss for words.  I stumbled but finally spoke.

“Hi, it’s nice to meet you. I love your writings,” I said. I don’t remember his exact words, but I think he bristled a little and stood up taller. He was pleasant and polite, and I realized he knew I was sizing him up. I knew his picture from his column, but here in front of me he was a bigger, older, grayer man , with facial hair that I found to be unfortunate.

I had just size- shamed, age-shamed and follically-shamed Kirby, all within the eight seconds it takes us as humans to make a judgement about a person. It showed on my face, and I could tell by the look on his face he knew what had just occurred.

“When was the picture taken in your column?” I asked, a bit weakly.

Kirby was very good natured, paused for a moment, and smiled. I didn’t think he took offense at the time, I felt we were just a couple of humans who had just shared an awkward moment.  I never personally interacted with Kirby again while I was in the newsroom, but it’s an open space so a lot is overheard. I don’t believe Kirby’s accused acts were based on the sex of the accuser. I suspect there are equal amounts of men out there who would say Kirby offended them as well.

I also harassed Dustin, a “Cutebutdumb ” bouncer from nearly 20 years ago. I encouraged him to stay after the bar closed and have a drink. Sometimes I encouraged him to make out with me, even when he said he had to get home.

And then there was the Layout Guy. I was working at a struggling weekly paper, and we were starting to turn it around. But the layout guy had been there forever, and used a Tetris format when putting the pages together. Often times above -the-fold stories got bumped just because he thought it looked better his way.

One week we had a spectacular paper. Big scoop, important stuff that was going to really make a difference. We were all psyched, but it was stuck at the layout guy. The editor and photographer had both been in the layout guy’s office, and came out threatening to quit immediately. I had watched this all play out over the last hour, and marched into the layout guy’s office. I don’t know if it was out of respect, awe of my written words or the fact that I had breasts, but the Layout Guy was always on his best behavior around me.

I asked him how the front page was coming, he blushed and smiled, and his knee bounced slightly. He said he was working on it. He moved stuff around on the page, as I watched over his shoulder. He listened to every suggestion I made without arguing, and within a couple of minutes the page was ready to send. He sent it, and we chatted for a few minutes before he went back to work.

Human or Harasser?




September 18, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our own perceptions

Once again, Petra, who is nearing 5 years old, reminded me of how our perceptions are our own, and everyone is entitled to their own reality. And of course, she taught me this lesson using boots. My boots.

It was a Grammy weekend, and Robert and I were getting ready to take Petra to the park. We had planned to walk all the way up to McDonald’s, about a half mile away, but realized Petra had left her shoes in Jessica’s car. No worries for Petra, she headed to my closet to raid my shoes, and returned with her favorite pair of red Gucci, spiked heel boots. I got them years ago because they were beautiful and free, but have been unable to walk in them other than the occasional trip around the house. She has loved them from the time she could walk, and every trip to our house involves her prancing around in them.

She came out wearing the Gucci boots, and was ready for the park. Robert and I, only concerned with whether or not she could make the journey in the boots, began talking her out of them.

“Those boots won’t work,” I said.

“Why?” Petra asked.

“Those aren’t good heels, you won’t be able to walk in them.”

“Yes I can,” she walked around the living room.

“Well, they won’t work. Find something else.” I knew I was right.

She marched back to my closet and returned wearing another pair of boots. Shiny black leather with two inch heels, that came up over her knee. She looked very much like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

“Those won’t work.” I said.

“Why not?” Petra asked. I couldn’t tell her that she looked like a tiny lady of the evening, and that Robert and I would be judged as the worst grandparents on the block.

“Those heels are too high,” I said.

“No they’re not,” she again pranced around the room confidently and steadily.

“Ugh, pick something else,” I said.

She returned with a third pair, a black suede pair with a wedge heel. Still had the look of Pretty Woman, but we were wearing down so I only half-heartedly tried to talk her out of them. Robert and I decided we would only go as far as the park, and figured it would be a painfully slow walk with her marching in oversized boots.

“These will work Grammy. Look, they don’t have a sharp heel,” Petra made her case.

“Okay, let’s go then,” we headed out the garage, Petra ahead of us, as we watched her clomp down the driveway to the sidewalk.

The moment her feet hit the level sidewalk, Petra began running, lifting her knees high, not the least bit wobbly. She had the biggest smile on her face, and her blond hair was blowing in the wind as she turned to yell back at us.

“Look, look what these boots can do Grammy!”

We heard the clomping all the way around the corner, as we hustled to keep up with her through the neighborhood.

September 7, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment