Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Essay #4: Cracking Open the Mailbag

<---Sunday Essay #3: Who Wants to Be a Speed Dating Veteran?
--->Sunday Essay #5: The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!

"You seem to have a tendency of stalking people," he wrote anonymously.

The pronouncement was a fortune cookie from hell, made by an online stranger in the comments section of my essay The Sammy Mystery. I had written about a friend of mine, an Ethiopian Jew who'd mysteriously entered my life years ago only to vanish without a trace. I'm not sure what in the piece implied that I had stalkerish tendencies: was it because I mentioned emailing the Israeli absorption embassy to search for my friend? Could the anonymous commenter be *gasp* Sammy himself?

Though my plot-twist-hungry mind wants that to be the case, the guilty party is more likely someone who googled "Ethiopian Jew," found my essay, and decided that I was a moonbat who stalked people.

Since June 2007, I've posted 114 blog entries. (WHAT YOU WANT, A COOKIE?) Most of the correspondance I've recieved has been flattering, even generous. But what I want to address today are the times I rubbed readers the wrong way.

Let's crack open the mailbag!

On Small Talks and Rent-a-Cops 7/12/2007
Laney Shin wrote..."I got the feeling of a slight superiority complex on your part; no offense but maybe that's what you were going for." (comment via facebook)

This comment came on the heels of a lightly comedic observational piece I'd written about a security guard with a colorful personality. Thinking I had been too tough on the guy, I issued a mea culpa a few weeks later. Was that necessary? If you're curious, you can read the original article and decide for yourself.

What interests me more is Laney Shin's classic use of the "no offense" card. Has anyone in the history of mankind used "no offense" as preamble for something positive: No offense, but your risotto tastes like the flesh of a fallen angel! Does that ever happen? Probably not. Instead we get, "No offense, but I will now try to passive-aggressively offend you!"

When A Neighbor's Dog Craps in Your Yard... 7/26/2007
Jeff wrote..."rather than the passive aggressive approach, how about being more direct and just saying, 'would you like a bag to clean that up?'. they won't do it again, and they'll respect you for it, instead of hating you forever for being angry at them."

Jeff does not approve of the way I stared down a neighbor whose dog polluted my parents' lawn. What starts off as a condescending reproach ("rather than the passive aggressive approach, how about being more direct") ends with a verbal sledgehammer ("hating you forever"). So, I write a tongue-in-cheek essay about guilt trips and the only feedback I receive burns with words like "hating" and "forever"? Really? I guess that's what happens when you pimp your blog on the gently Democratic Republic of Craigslist.

Teaching English in Bundang, South Korea - Your FAQ Answered! 1/29/2009
Anonymous wrote..."Ha. You were my neighbor [in Korea]...weren't too friendly either. I hope you improve on that."

Who is this person? My spidey sense tingles Canadian, Canadian, Canadian. I'm picturing a maple leaf backpack and an aura of don't-you-dare-mistake-me-for-a-U.S.-American defensiveness. I might have launched a continent-shaking fart when I shared an elevator with this individual, but I don't think I did that. Maybe I should have.

On Sunday Essay #1: Party Like a Writer! Party Like a Writer? 4/12/2009
Anonymous wrote..."I remember that party. You were the quiet guy in the Cosby sweater with snowflakes on it. I'm not sure what that means."

That sweater was a GIFT!

If you're using Cosby as a pejorative, know that I bow at the altar of Jell-O Bill. Plus, those aren't snowflakes; they're carefully-woven Eddie Bauer stiches. Though my Facebook rankings tell me otherwise, my fashion sense needs no improvement, thank you.

While my dream is to make a living writing about my life and the lives of others, do I turn strangely defensive when someone writes about me? Well, it does feel a bit weird and a bit icky to be at the mercy of another person's pen. That might make me a hypocrite, but I think that's just part and parcel of the writing game. We're all characters in somebody else's story.

Until next time, this is the mailbag. Remember to drive safely and drink your milk, or I will hate you forever.

<---Sunday Essay #3: Who Wants to Be a Speed Dating Veteran?

--->Sunday Essay #5: The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!


1 comment:

Jes said...

I hope the poster really was the sweater guy--that'd be too classic!