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Our Culture Inchoate: John Torres #32

Updated: Oct 16, 2019

CNF Interview with John Torres, husband of Speaker Honoria Torres, with anchor Sandy Culbertson, Sunday, July 28, 2019

SANDY CULBERTSON (SC): Good evening, America, Sandy Culbertson here, morning anchor of CNF “All That Matters To You,” with a special segment in an interview with John Torres, US Marine, father, and the husband of new US House Speaker, Honoria Torres, representative from New Jersey.

Welcome, Mr. Torres.

JOHN TORRES (JT): John, please, Mr. Culbertson.

SC: Ha ha ha, yes, of course, John… and just Sandy, here.

JT: Thanks for inviting me to an interview. And I was very sorry to hear of your Mom passing.

SC: Thank you, John. My pleasure having you here. For the audience, we are tracking on one single camera, as Speaker Torres now requires for her one-on-one interviews. Is this satisfactory, John?

JT: You’re the boss, Sandy.

SC: So… what’s it like, John? Your wife is now the third most powerful politician in the United States today. Is this what you expected at the beginning of the year?

JT: Well, uh, no. I didn’t expect it on Mother’s Day, either, but there you have it. Things are certainly happening fast.

SC: Where did you meet? How did your story begin?

JT: We met at a party at my sister’s law firm, in 2001. Mac was an intern there, a junior in college. Springtime, like Easter week. I was just finishing a semester at community college, and it was my last. I hated it. Not for me. So I was working part-time at UPS, loading and unloading trucks in the early morning hours… the summer of 2001.

SC: And then the world changed…

JT: Yeah. Changed for me, because I was really digging this girl I met, Mac. Bright, fun, cuter than I was used to dating… I had actually proposed to her a couple months after I met her. Her Mom, Jane, insisted we wait a year. Mac thought it a good idea, so…

SC: Why do you call her Mac?

JT: Well, everyone does. All her friends and family. Only her mother calls her Honoria.

SC: Not Honey? Seems like a natural nickname.

JT: Goodness, no. I don’t think she would like that. So September 11 came, and we could see the smoke clearly from Eastfield. I can still see it now. I had just gotten out of work. A week later I enlisted, and I was off to boot camp in November.

SC: Was boot camp tough? I mean, I understand it can be brutal on minorities…

JT: What?

SC: Well, being Hispanic, boot camp has more complications.

JT: Where’d you hear that? It’s BS, man. Boot camp is tough, and I’m glad I did it. But we had three DI’s working our platoon, and the Senior was Staff Sergeant Perez.

SC: Did you have complications being Hispanic in New Jersey?

JT: Look, Sandy, let me set something straight. I was born in Jersey. My mother was born in New Jersey, as was my older brothers and sister. My father emigrated from Cuba back in the 50’s, legally, and married, made a family, and has big business interests, successful ones, here in the USA. I don’t identify as Hispanic, or even Cuban, for that matter. I am a proud son of New Jersey, a husband and father, and privileged to have served as a Marine. Ditch the Hispanic stuff, man. Not cool.

SC: Not trying to offend, John. I want the people to get to know you better, and by extension, the Speaker.

JT: Well, the Speaker was all-in on this interview, and unless I say so specifically, I am not speaking for her. I hope she is still all-in when it’s over, haha.

SC: John, let me be direct. There is a wide swath of America that thinks your wife is, in fact, Hispanic. Doesn’t she appropriate that kind of association when her name is Torres?

JT: Oh, boy. Look, my wife took my name back in 2002, when we got married. Politics was the last thing on her mind back then, I can assure you. She didn’t run for office for another 12 or so years. If she had an inkling then about politics she would have kept her maiden name, McIlhenny. That name is political gold, if you ask me, especially in New Jersey.

SC: Why is that?

JT: Her dad, William McIlhenny, was a hero cop killed in the line of duty in 1984, when Mac, Honoria, was only four years old. The NJ police never forget that service and sacrifice.

SC: He was killed in a traffic accident…

JT: No, he was hit by several cars after running across a snow-blind highway to assist injured and stranded motorists. A couple days before Christmas. If that isn’t heroic, nothing is.

SC: I just wanted to clarify.

JT: I just want to keep the record straight. And I resent the implication.

SC: Not trying to offend, John.

JT: Second time you have had to clarify that, Sandy. I assume you don’t want to offend. But it appears you do want to bait me. I’ll do better not to jump at it going forward.

SC: I will just push forward if that’s okay. Tell us about your immediate family, and your kids.

JT: Sure, Mac and I have four kids… Jane is our eldest, nearly 18, and will be attending Catholic University in Washington DC this fall. We are very excited for her.

Then we have triplet boys, nine years old, Carlos, Bill, and Mickey. Carlos is my father’s name, Bill is Mac’s dad’s name. Mickey is Michael, and we just liked the name. They are a handful, and my real full time job.

My father, Carlos, came to America in the late 50’s to attend college, and then Castro took over. Dad became a US citizen in 1965. He and my mother married in 1967. Mom, the former Maryanne Doll, was actually Miss Milltown, New Jersey, in 1966! They have four adult children: Matthew, who is a chiropractor in NY City, Mark, a Catholic priest with a ministry in Central America, Lucia, who is an attorney at one of the biggest firms in New Jersey, and then me.

SC: You mentioned that college was not for you… tell us about your career.

JT: Well, when I got out of the Corps I needed to do something practical, and I did try college again. It didn’t work. I’m just not that kind of person. Mac was teaching and we were living, with a baby, in her Mom’s home in Eastfield, a house we have since purchased. Anyway, I was working out at a local gym, and a couple commuters asked me to spot for them, help them with technique, offer opinion on diet and routines, the whole nine yards. My wife suggested I get certified as a personal trainer. Then the gym owner offered me a job, and then he offered me a partnership in the gym, and then he sold it to me. All this happened quickly, like, in a two year period.

SC: Wow, that is fast. How did you secure funding?

JT: Fair question. My father loaned me the money. He, uh, really owned it at first. I had a lot to learn. But I worked the heck out of it, acquiring new customers and membership and growing the whole personal trainer gig. For the first few years business was booming.

SC: What happened?

JT: The housing market crashed, which had a negative effect on businesses in general. My shop was fine, but the anchor store in the mall I’m in bugged out, and a new tenant came in… a discount healthcare gym club. They offered a membership at half the rate. I had a non-compete in the lease, but they offered much more than my gym-rat club. We talked about it and decided that litigation was not smart. We were gonna eat our way out of it,

SC: What do you mean?

JT: Well, we were gonna work our tails off, and compete head-to head. Show our members, and new members, that we had quality physical training, better equipment, great peripheral options.

SC: And…

JT: Couldn’t make it work. The recession in ’08 and ’09 rippled with everyone. Most folks were sorry, but they opted for the less expensive membership. I am still a trainer, though. It took a while to make it happen, but I joined the “other” gym with my space, and now I have the same setup, but as a junior partner.

SC: Is that a career with a future? I know you don’t like education…

JT: Oh, c’mon, Sandy, I am all-in on education. It’s just that college is not for me. Look, everyone wants their kids to go to college and get a big job. College educated people make more money, sure, but money isn’t everything. It’s about using the gifts God gave you to the max, you know? He gave us brains and bodies, and we should use our bodies to the absolute max of our potential. Remember how your parents said, “Use the brain God gave you?” Well, I say, use the body God gave you.

SC: You know, John. I like that. I agree. So what do you do now? Stay in Jersey? Move to Washington?

JT: We decided, as a family, that we wanted to be together. We stayed in Eastfield really for Jane’s sake, so she could get through high school. But Jane is the biggest fan of all of us moving to DC. In fact, we move to a nice little place next week.

SC: And being a trainer?

JT: Well, my clients are happy and sad at the same time. I will have to start from scratch in DC. But Mac, the Speaker, will be very very busy, and my mother-in-law can’t pick up more slack than she has already… she, Jane McIlhenny, is a God-send, and we can’t imagine life without her… I know that the boys will occupy nearly all my time outside of school hours.

SC: I think it’s safe to say that everyone is rooting for you, John. Do you miss the Marine Corps?

JT: Sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade my life for what we have now.

SC: Are you also anti-choice, like the Speaker?

JT: I would not characterize she, we, being anti-choice. We are pro-life. Abortion is legal. But restrictions should be considered. Look, as a guy, I would never tell a woman what she should or shouldn’t do, especially something so wonderful and complicated as having a baby.

But I can speak to men. Once a woman has given herself, her uniqueness, her soul to a man, and a pregnancy occurs, how can a man abandon that woman? I think the guy who says “it’s her choice and I support her” is really saying “I hope she has an abortion.” And to that guy I say, you are a coward. C’mon, we’re all adults, and I’m not a prude. But don’t people talk about birth control anymore? Don’t people have discussions about the possibility? You don’t need a college degree to know the whole point of the, uh, act itself, is to procreate. Who pursues a woman, and her love, and hopes she makes a choice that doesn’t involve him? Only a coward.

SC: That’s a little misogynistic.

JT: Hey, I’m just calling it as I see it. A man’s role is to protect and provide… when he can do that he can be involved in procreation. That’s what a gentleman does, anyway.

SC: And maybe homophobic. Not all couples can have children.

JT: That’s ridiculous, Sandy, about being homophobic. The point of marriage is to make a family. Anything else is an homage to the institution.

SC: Look, I’m not a hater.

JT: Stop right there. When you say this “I’m not a hater” thing what you are really saying is that I am. Let’s not do that. I do not hate. That’s spin, man. And unfair.

Can I bring up an example about abortion? Why choice, in and of itself, is not always right? Even if it’s a right?

SC: Sure.

JT: I read a year ago there’s a celebrity, I forgot her name. She got pregnant as a teenager. It happens. Teens boys and girls make mistakes. She said freely that she made a choice to have sex with her boyfriend. Many, if not most, families have been through this scenario. No one would condemn. It happens.

But she decides, with her parents, to have an abortion, for all the reasons kids have them, especially with parental knowledge. No one is celebrating choice. We sigh, we shrug. A shame, even tragic. Perfectly legal. In my opinion, two mistakes were made. Both choices. Pro-lifers would condemn this second choice, though, as morally wrong.

A few months later, the same girl gets pregnant again. A second time, same guy. No contraception? No moral compass? No common sense? No outrage? Now that’s three choices, and none of them are good, but what to do?

She decides to have another abortion. Now, of the four choices this person made, which ones were good ones? Which choices were… right?

SC: That’s pretty harsh.

JT: Yeah, I know. Really bad for the babies, too, Sandy. Look, I don’t think a woman wakes up in the morning looking forward to making that decision or actually having the procedure. But science doesn’t lie… and it’s not democratic. An abortion kills an unborn child.

SC: I have to change topics... what do you think of antifa?

JT: This is my opinion, okay? Antifa doesn’t represent left leaning people any more than Nazi-lovers represent right wingers. Both are morons and should be condemned. Antifa, by wearing masks, are cowards. The video we have seen makes me angry. To tell you the truth, if someone in a mask assaults someone, I think the police should use deadly force, or very harsh treatment.

SC: You can’t mean that.

JT: Well, I don’t, but I do. It’s complicated. I am not a public figure, but certainly the political establishment in Portland or wherever can do something to make sure these violent protesters are exposed and held accountable.

SC: I’m almost afraid to ask about the water buckets and cop drenchings in New York City.

JT: Right. Maybe you don’t want to know what I think. I do have a prediction: It’s gonna stop. Real soon. Video is a powerful tool, and those bums drenching the cops are gonna pay, sooner or later.

SC: You seem like a sincere, passionate man, John. We have to close now, but I wanted to thank you for giving us this insight.

JT: Thanks for having me. This may be the first and last public interview…

SC: John, you did great!

JT: Oh, sure, but there is only one person whose opinion counts, and it ain’t me, hahaha.

SC: Thanks again, to John Torres, husband of US House Speaker, Honoria “Mac” Torres.

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