Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Grace of Marilyn

Who besides me is in love with Marilyn Hagerty from the Grand Forks Herald? Apparently a lot of people are because the 85-year-old daily columnist has received national attention for her recent review of the Olive Garden.

Grand Forks is about three hours northwest of here on the North Dakota side of the border.  It's not a huge place.  They have a daily paper, and I'm pretty sure they have a mall.  Any new restaurant in town is probably a big deal.  Marilyn writes a daily column about various topics, one of which is restaurant reviews.  She wrote a glowing report of the Olive Garden and the rest of the country found it charming.  She's been on all kinds of talk shows.  I just watched her on Anderson Cooper.  Andy gave her a cruise to Italy.  She was just tickled, but I think he was surprised to discover this will not be her first trip.  She was on a University of North Dakota alumni trip a few years ago.  She said she'll have a great time if she doesn't have to "go to the old folks home first."

It doesn't seem like anyone is making fun of her.  Even the acerbic celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain tweeted that he, "Very much enjoying watching Internet sensation Marilyn Hagerty triumph over the snarkologists (myself included)." 

Maybe the rest of the country is delighted to discover we don't take ourselves too seriously up here.  Maybe they like a woman who brought beauty and honesty to a lunch at the Olive Garden.  Maybe the rest of the country is ready to admit out loud that there's nothing to be ashamed of with a lunch at the Olive Garden.

I automatically have a fondness for her because all little newspapers used to have a Marilyn.  My dad owned a couple of weekly papers and our "Marilyn" was Lila Marie.  Lila Marie was abandoned by her first husband (if I remember right).  The man who owned the paper before my dad felt sorry for her and hired her as a columnist.  Lila Marie had a very similar writing style to Marilyn.  She was very good at describing things and could make the two squirrels wrestling outside her window sound like a trip to Cirque du Soleil.  In my teenage years, I thought she was awful and thought Dad should just get rid of her.  The older I got, though, the more I began to appreciate seeing the good in all things, even squirrels.

Lila Marie was killed tragically a few years ago in a car accident.  It has been wonderful to see Marilyn shine and take it all in stride as befitting a beautiful woman of her age, disposition and heritage.  It is never too late to shine.  It is never to late to be graceful and gracious.  It is never too late to enjoy your lunch -- no matter where it is.

TGRJ: .75 mile.  Left after 7am today.  Note to self:  That is too late.  There are too many dogs out.  There are too many neighbors out watching me huff and puff along.


  1. When I want to eat at Olive Garden I go the one that is situated next to the pornographic bookstore. Then I sneak through the bookstore into the restaurant without having anyone I know seeing me enter an Olive Garden. This cuts down on the shame immensely.

  2. I cannot believe I published your comment. I am going to pretend you are just a *strange* anonymous reader.