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A Belated Valentine

March 1, 2008
I would like to state the date for the record: February 14, 2008. It is truly Valentine's Day as I write this.

by Mark Hartley
[email protected]

I would like to state the date for the record: February 14, 2008. It is truly Valentine"s Day as I write this.

Got back from Chicago a couple of days ago. For a brief moment, I thought I might be spending another Valentine's Day in the snowy, windy city 700 miles northeast of where I live.

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The almost irony is that I would have spent it in the same building that I did the first time. As you can see in the photo, I was sitting in the cavernous room that will become the exhibit hall for the RDH Under One Roof conference at the Chicago Hilton Towers next summer. Paul Schmitz, the art director, and I were at the Hilton to prepare a preview about the conference (watch for it in the April issue). When we tried to leave, a persistent snowfall delayed our flight for a couple of hours.

I am instead comfortable in my office on this Valentine's Day. It wasn't that way about 20 years ago. That year, the Chicago Midwinter Dental Meeting hosted a conference earlier in February. The scheduled departures were set for Valentine's Day. A blizzard prevented our return home, and the work gang (none of us were romantically linked to each other) shared a Valentine's Day buffet at the Hilton Towers.

I really don't remember my wife being upset about us being separated on that Valentine's Day so long ago. She's pretty forgiving.

But Margaret sent me an e-mail the other day. She wrote, "I was thinking for Valentine's Day I would like a retraction printed in RDH regarding this ‘thing' I have for Gene Hackman."

In March 2002, the headline of my Editor's Note was, "Happy birthday, Gene!" Gene, of course, is Gene Hackman, the movie actor who won Oscars for roles in The French Connection and Unforgiven.

Six years ago, I wrote precisely 750 words to tell RDH readers about my wife's infatuation with the actor. I got my kids to believe it too. The family christened a cake recipe as the Gene Hackman Birthday Cake. The highlight for me was when Margaret accompanied my daughter — then a high school senior — on a trip to take a look at St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. My daughter was very excited when she got back.

"Father! Guess what? Gene Hackman lives in a house overlooking St. John's College!" We had a jolly good time accusing Margaret of trying to influence a college choice based on Hackman's whereabouts.

Married couples do such sweet things to each other, don't they? Her female friends questioned her sanity. "Uh, you think, uh, Gene Hackman is hot, huh?"

So Margaret wrote six days ago: "I was thinking for Valentine's Day I would like a retraction printed ..."

There you have it, sweetheart — a Valentine's Day retraction! It's merely a coincidence that he's an actor in one of your favorite movies — Hoosiers.

To me, the highlight of any RDH Under One Roof is meeting the eight recipients of the GUM® Healthy Gums Healthy Life®/RDH Award of Distinction. The deadline for the 2008 entries is March 31.

The reason I experience great pleasure in meeting the recipients is because they always seem to be considered ordinary hygienists. The passion they feel, though, about oral hygiene care is extraordinary. Dental hygiene is truly your calling. Please consider entering.