Tender is the ex-wife at the dawning of the age of the ice moll

Until recently, Jim Butler, of Arundel Cards and Coins in Glen Burnie, had this sign posted in front of his shop: "Divorced. Will Work For Home-Cooked Meal." Jim had only one taker -- his ex-wife. "She stopped by and offered me a meal," Jim says. "But it cost me some plumbing work, and I've got to fix the headlight in her car. But it'll be worth it; she's a good cook."

Hockey, anyone?


I didn't root for Tonya Harding (privately or publicly), though I know that was the hip-anti-establishment-champion-the-underdog thing to do this week. As much as I've detested her on the TV screen -- arms spread, skating backward, coming right toward me -- I've watched every possible minute, hoping to catch her bouncing off the ice.

"You know Tonya's real sin?" Katha Pollitt quotes a female friend in the current issue of The Nation. "Even with all that exercise, she still has big thighs." OK. So Tonya is not exactly the gamine in skates, and Pollitt is correct when she says that the national thumbs-down on Harding is based, in part, on her biker moll appearance. But there are a lot of us out here -- oh, pardon this prissy judgment, willya, hon? -- who think she had no business on Olympic ice because she kept her mouth shut about the attack on Nancy Kerrigan.


Look, as a guy who once dated (and suffered) a stuck-up ice princess from a wealthy family, I would have gladly rooted for Tonya, a princess wanna-be from the wrong side of the tracks. But my problem with the little tank-topped darlin' is this: Besides her admittedly dishonest conduct after the attack on Kerrigan, she's exhibited that in-your-face arrogance about her notoriety that grosses me out. She has employed handlers and lawyers to help her cash in. And it's all crass and blatant; no style, no subtlety, no elegance -- just like her short program Wednesday night. "She's the Pete Rose of ice skating," a friend of mine put it well. "Dirtball sensibilities, shaky ethics and a teaspoon of talent in a gallon of ambition." And we were glad to see Pete Rose go, too.

Come on and hear

For a few years now, the Peabody Ragtime Ensemble has been putting more swing and jazz into its repertoire, substituting Ellington and Waller where they used to have nothin' but Joplin and Blake. It figures, then, that the Baltimore Jazz Orchestra, premiering this weekend at the Maryland Historical Society, has the talented members of the ragtime ensemble at its core and longtime rag tubist Ed Goldstein as its director. There will be 12 musicians in the orchestra, and London-based jazz pianist Keith Nichols will be playing with them. The historical society's Black History Month Jazz Concert takes place in the France auditorium. Performances are tomorrow and Sunday. Call 685-3750 for ticket information.

Swiftly flew the limo

H. B. Johnson Jr. rented three stretch limos to transport 23 friends and relatives to the preview screening of his prize-winning play, "Smooth Disappointment," Wednesday night at Arena Players. Everything went smoothly for H. B. -- the reception, the screening, the applause, the short speech, signing autographs, posing for photos and photos and one more photo. But getting back to his house on West Lexington was a Cinderella story. H. B., freed from prison last November by the governor, is on home detention. He had to get special dispensation to attend the preview -- on the condition that he be back under house arrest by 9. So the limo driver had to kick it. The stretch pulled up in front of H. B.'s place at 8:58. Yes! A squeaker of an end to a perfect evening. "Smooth Disappointment," about the redemption of a Baltimore drug addict, won WMAR-TV's 12th annual drama competition. It will be aired on Channel 2 at 7 tomorrow night.

Highly unusual

Sophie Mank wants to know if anyone else out there in the Greater Patapsco Drainage Basin ever had the kind of shattering experience she had recently. "I was making supper and listening to WITH-AM. A song was being sung, and I knew the lady who was singing would end on a high note. As I reached to take a glass down from the cabinet, I said to my husband, who had just walked into the kitchen, 'I hope she makes this high note.' When she did, the glass in my hand shattered. My hand was not cut but I was stunned." Sophie, so are we. If I were you, I'd send the station the bill for the glass.

Run on kiddie carts


The new Super Fresh on 41st Street, site of the old Greenspring Dairy, is a big and bright place with good-looking produce, an ethnic food section, a bakery, a big cheese island, seafood department and butcher shop. City folk are generally happy about the much-needed supermarket (though more parking would be nice). The kids love the miniature shopping carts. On opening day last month, there was a whole herd of them parked in the front of the store. As of yesterday, there were only a few kiddie carts left. They moved fast, just disappeared -- and they weren't even for sale!

No time to blush

Ingmar Burger, our Remington correspondent, files this theater review: "You know how bad the revival of 'Hair' at the Mechanic is? The entire cast was nude at the end of the first act, and I still walked out."