Neal Rubin: Food for cops, socks for prostates, shirts for Nepal
It's perhaps not the easiest time to stand in support of police officers, but if Seifu Lessanework wanted to do things the easy way, he'd cook cheeseburgers.
Instead, he cooks Ethiopian food, and his Blue Nile restaurant in Ferndale will be serving it for free to police officers tonight and next Monday.
"I want to show them they are appreciated," Lessanework says.
Yes, he has seen the videos of late that range from unsightly to horrifying, and no, he is not absolving people of misjudgments, sins or outright crimes just because they wear uniforms.
But if a restaurant serves you a bad meal in Kentucky, you do not assume that all restaurants there are deficient, let alone restaurants in Idaho.
"I have benefited from their support and professionalism," says Lessanework, 67. "Personally, as well as my business."
An Ethiopia-born U.S. citizen, Lessanework opened his first Blue Nile in a tiny Woodward Avenue storefront three decades ago.
He has needed the police occasionally at his newest location, 545 W. 9 Mile Road, his house in Ferndale was burgled last month, and he might still be trying to find his way back from Up North if a state trooper hadn't pulled him over a few years ago.
Medication had addled him after the annual Mackinac Bridge walk, he says. The trooper not only spared him a ticket, he gave Lessanework a ride back to his hotel.
"This kind of a person deserves recognition," he says, and while some people might graciously send a card, Lessanework and his wife, Fetlework, happen to own a restaurant.
They're usually closed on Mondays, but from 5-10 p.m. two Mondays in a row, they'll be open to active or retired law enforcement officers and their families.
A badge or an I.D. is mandatory. A reservation isn't, but feel free; the number is (248) 259-1570.
"I have been guilty of not thanking them enough," Lessanework says. This should get him off the hook.
Socks are symbolic
I don't typically wear $25 socks, and I also don't typically ponder my prostate. But one of my favorite clothing stores might have me doing both.
The Shirt Box in Farmington Hills has commissioned a specially designed sock to remind men that they do in fact have prostates, and that healthy ones are better than unhealthy ones.
The sock — or socks, since they tend to come in pairs — are crafted in Italy by a company called Bugatchi. They are 80 percent cotton, 20 percent other stuff, and are black with blue trim and a design of jaunty blue ribbons.
The blue ribbons are the symbol of prostate cancer awareness and are supposed to remind us that according to the American Cancer Society, there will be approximately 220,000 new diagnoses of prostate cancer and 27,500 fatalities this year.
For each pair sold through July, the store at 31420 Northwestern Highway will donate a $5 bill to the Michigan Institute of Urology Men's Health Foundation.
The $5 bill is the symbol of hey, we could have gone to Starbucks, but we supported a good cause instead.
Only flag not a rectangle
Also wearable, also for a good cause, not a sock:
Mailen Staulter of West Bloomfield was in Nepal on a mission trip in April when the country was struck by an earthquake so strong it actually moved Mt. Everest three centimeters to the southwest.
Staulter, 23, and her colleagues came through the experience unhurt, though her mother, Kyle says she was "pretty shaken up by it all."
Hugs being difficult to deliver from 7,500 miles away, Kyle did the next best thing: she created a cool T-shirt.
She's a graphic designer, so that's not out of character. The shirt features Nepal's national flag, which looks like one red pennant stacked atop another and is the only one in the world that's not a rectangle.
"Lifting up Nepal," the caption says, with "Lifting Up" running vertically along the spine of the flag. The shirts cost $20 at bonfirefunds.com/lifting-up-nepal-3, with sweatshirts $40, and 90 percent of the proceeds go to Nepalese relief via Youth With a Mission.
In her dreams, Kyle says, she sees Bob Seger on stage in her shirt singing "Katmandu." Here in the real world, it would just be nice to raise a few dollars to help Nepal.