On Halloween, when retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page passes out candy, some trick-or-treaters might think his pinky looks odd just to entertain them.
“Right,” laughed Page. “More so than Halloween are the kids in classrooms that I visit. They always go Ick, Oooh, and Ouch.”
In “Alan and His Perfectly Pointy Impossibly Perpendicular Pinky,” the first of three and counting children’s books co-written with daughter Kamie Page, the crooked digit is a device to tell the story of a kid whose questions are a little off target.
I like this retelling of how the pinky got that way: “I don’t remember the game. I made a tackle. It got pulled out of its socket. Jim Marshall looked at me as I was whimpering and whining. I showed him my pinky. He grabbed it and pulled it back in its joint and the game went on. I was a slow learner. It’s a function of having been dislocated multiple times. Had I simply taped it to [the next] finger, it would be fine today.”
In Part 2 of our interview we talk more football.
Q: Are all your kids as cerebral as you?
A: I don’t know that I’m all that cerebral. They are thoughtful. They can be fun.
Q: You seem stern, but you have a fun side the grandkids probably see?
A: I would hope so. They would say Goofy Grandpa.
Q: Because you love words, do you cringe when professional athletes, who have attended institutions of higher learning, sound as though they never took an English class?
A: I tend to try not to judge other people’s usage of words. [Pause] I get it. I hear some of them. It’s cringe worthy. I wish that they would get their acts together.
Q: Do you think Cam Newton is going to have his act together more after his misstep?
A: [Shaking his head no.] Misstep? Why would you say that? It’s just a very strange reaction. I have a real problem particularly with people who have been the victims of discrimination exhibiting discrimination themselves.
Q: Would you kneel now if you were in the NFL?
A: I don’t know. It’s one thing to protest. It’s one thing to take action to bring about positive change. I’d be more inclined trying to figure out what I could do to stop the underlying reason: ... the unjustified killing of unarmed black people. Kneeling is fine, but it doesn’t change the facts.
Q: Have you been stopped by police very much in the Twin Cities?
A: Not in my old age. I’ve been stopped here, stopped in Chicago. [Shoulder shrug] Nothing new there. I can’t remember who said it, but I think it really says it all: The only difference between me and Emmett Till? I wasn’t there. The only difference between me and Philando Castile? I wasn’t there.
Q: Aches and pains: Do you have any other souvenirs from football?
A: I was going to say, I’ve got new ones. [Laughs]
Q: Unrelated to the NFL?
A: Actually, the only real football injury that’s had any long-term staying power is this pinky.
Q: To what degree are you certain or uncertain that playing college or NFL football causes CTE?
A: Football is a violent, violent game. It’s debilitating. The question is what if anything can we do about it.
Q: If I named you NFL commissioner, and I can’t believe you haven’t been approached about that, could you make the game less violent?
A: Not my idea of a good time. I had the best job, if you can call it a job, from my perspective: serving on the court. If there was something that fit me, that used my skills and abilities, my interests, that was it.
Q: If former President Barack Obama had wanted to nominate you to the U.S. Supreme Court, would you have said ... Yes?
A: By the time he was in office, I was well past my sell-by date.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on FOX 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.