Who Are The Real Experts?

In 1998, the “Yearbook of Experts, Authorities and Spokespersons” listed Dorothy Wilhelm (that would be me) as an expert on Sex after 50 (that would be a surprise.) There it was on page 159 right after Sex Addiction and right before Sex and Love.

I’m pretty sure this is the first my kids have heard about it and I’ve got to admit I’m worried. I’m not going to try to explain how it happened, but I was doing a TV show for folks over 50 at the time and this is a sourcebook for media contacts. During that year of interviews, I was asked a lot of sinus-clearing questions. It became obvious that simply having an enthusiasm for a subject and a very accurate long-term memory doesn’t necessarily make one an expert, no matter what they put after your name.

The Yearbook is still going strong without me. The 2020 edition has 348 pages of people who are expert on everything from Bullet Proof Vests through Business Ethics and Body Image to Bus Accidents.

up in Montana, it was easier to identify the experts. The whole family gathered around the radio every night to hear H.V. Kaltenborn. On the air for 30 years starting in 1928, Kaltenborn was the first of the big media voices.

“There’s good news tonight,” he’d say in Voice of God tones. Sometimes, especially during World War II, it was “There’s bad news tonight.” Either way, you knew right away what to expect.

Today’s top headlines

It was a lot easier when it was just H.V. and me. Now I think it’s time to wade past the thousands of conventional news sources and social media experts to give recognition to the real experts in our families and our communities who are managing to learn, teach, lead, and create bright spots in our lives even in the midst of pandemic. I have created a few awards. You can think of more.

Birds and Bees – and Chi Award: My friend Sharalin, for instance, has created a garden of almost Disney-like beauty. A visit to her backyard is like a trip to Shangri-La, despite her battle with horse tails (which are noxious weeds, not equine appendages). She notes, “The chi in the garden yesterday was so strong with the weather being perfect, the birds and bees and the activity going on and was so glad to be where we are.”

Lifting Spirits Award: My son and his wife have been doing my grocery shopping and bringing good things to eat since the pandemic started. Last Saturday, my daughter-in-law made two perfect miniature key lime pies in individual lidded dishes. Too cute to eat but just right to share with a friend, at correct social distancing of course. I’d say that makes the two of them experts in lifting spirits.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips Award: (Look it up). Number 3 son started his year by teaching his high school students how to create and post their own virtual backgrounds. Hint: don’t use the ones that come with Zoom. “They weren’t wild about people seeing into their houses,” he explained.

The Wonder Woman Award: This goes to my faithful News Tribune carrier, Rynnita, who manages to get the paper to my front door every day no matter what’s going on, though she has to start in the middle of the night. In recognition, I’ve supplied her with her own personal Wonder Woman undergarments to pull on when the going gets tough, because she is the embodiment of the Never Give Up spirit.

The young mother who lives upstairs in my condo community spent several hours out on the green square in front of our houses homeschooling her kids today, creating a project to hang from the trees, and making a video of the results on her cell phone. Then she calmly went on with her day. Let’s give her the Wonder Woman Award, too.

The final word, though, comes from Bishop Eusibio Elizondo, writing in September’s “Northwest Catholic.” He has devised spiritual health protocols to match the physical health protocols we’re all living with. The Bishop writes, “Distance yourself from Gossip, Wear a mask to keep yourself from pronouncing words that make others sick,” and “Do not get too close to those who exhale pessimism, cynicism or indifference. They carry a virus that multiplies by the millions and suffocates the breath of humanity.” The real experts are everywhere.

There’s good news tonight.

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