Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Intolerance for Raymond Cook's Inebriation

When I was a little girl I had one of those jewelry boxes with a twinkling spinning ballerina inside. I vividly remember the light blue tulle of her tutu and the shimmering tune of Swan Lake
playing when I'd wind it up. I never took a dance class in my life but
I did daydream about being a ballerina. Didn't every little girl? From
when my oldest son Bird could talk he would always tell me that I
looked like a ballerina whenever I wore a skirt. Now at age six, he
still says it. It's as close to being a ballerina as I ever got. I was
not blessed with a lithe body, good posture, discipline, or grace.

Elena Shapiro was. I swear if you look up "ballerina" in the dictionary
Elena's picture was right there. Even her name was fit for a ballerina.
Grace embodied.

I am having a hard time wrapping my head around
the recent tragedy of Dr. Raymond Cook killing ballerina Elena Shapiro.
The irony of a reckless young doctor stealing the life of a vital young
woman is not lost on me.

I heard this news over the weekend
before the media extravaganza began. I was reeling then, and the
subsequent news reports continue to make me foam at the mouth. Disdain.
Disgust. I can't find the right words. A man who committed his life to
saving lives took an innocent life in a fleeting, irresponsible moment.
We often turn to doctors in the apex of our vulnerability. We don't
expect them to heighten our despair; we look to them to give us hope
and health. We take faith that they value their oath. First, do no
harm. We hope and assume that doctors above all value human life in and
out of the hospital, for they have seen the most profound and most
remarkable examples of our mortality.

Cook did more than make a
grave mistake; he sent an innocent young woman to her grave. This was
not a fluke accident for which I can empathize. This was not an
it-could-have-happened-to-me moment. If anything, any one of us could
have been Elena Shapiro. In fact, just moments after the accident,
friends of ours took that very same road en route home, their two
children ages 7 and 4 in tow. Sure, before Friday night Raymond Cook
was a regular guffawing golfing guy hanging out with his buddies on a
deserved afternoon off. Apart from the 300 grand salary, million dollar
home, and medical credentials, he could have been my very own husband.
He was a husband, father, son, friend; he wasn't a monster. But his
actions have made him so. The fact that he has a history of such dangerous reckless behavior makes this case even more reprehensible.

Any one of his choices jeopardized
the lives of those who shared the road with him. The combination was
deadly. He embarked on this irresponsible escapade knowingly, even turning down an offer to arrange a ride home from the bar manager who refused to serve him.
Surely cab fare was not out of his budget. And what responsibility do
his golfing buddies share? Is there shame to go around? How many of
them drove home drunk themselves? One hell of an I-told-you-so-lesson.
This is a 40-something year old man who knows the dangers of drinking
and driving. He knows the ramifications of driving nearly twice
the speed limit. Even when running late, I don't drive twice the posted
speed limit. And the cynic in me says that he wouldn't have been
running late if he had just left the bar earlier.

The image of
a wealthy, successful young doctor careening down the street in his
fancy Mercedes after an afternoon of golfing at the club is even too
cliche for a Jodi Piccoult
novel. The Dr. 90210 figure of the swashbuckling, entitled plastic
surgeon who is above the law fits Dr. Cook to a tee. He's surely not
helping the negative stereotypical light cast on his profession. For
the record, I have had reconstructive plastic surgery for medical, not
cosmetic, reasons. Twice. I am not a naysayer. I am not one who is
distrusting of doctors. We have close friends who are physicians, and I
would trust them with my life. Had I the muster to get into medical
school, medicine would have been my chosen profession too. I revere
doctors, which perhaps adds to the bile this case elicits in me. I
don't know Raymond Cook personally. I don't really give a damn what
kind of man his supporters purport him to be. On Friday, September 11,
a date that already has its gruesome share of mind in our collective
psyches, Raymond Cook became a different kind of man. He murdered a
young woman who posed him no threat. His car his weapon, his disregard
for the law and his overindulgence the fuel. The lifetime of shame and
pain Cook lives with pales exponentially to that of Elena Shapiro's
family. And to think of the future he has laid out for his own family.
I shudder.

Think I'm being too hard on the guy? What if Elena were your daughter?

Surely when you look up "hubris" in the dictionary you see Raymond Cook.

Disgrace embodied.

Ilina, a doting mother of two boys, blogs at Dirt & Noise.When she's not busy with her day job in her own marketing consulting business, she manages to inhale books, cook adventurous healthy creations, and window shop on Etsy. Though she posts a cocktail recipe in a weekly feature called 5:00 Fridays,
she is a vehement supporter of drinking responsibly. Having lost two
friends to a drunk driving accident in college, she has no tolerance
for driving while under the influence.

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