It has been brought to my attention that I am a moron.
For the most part, I welcome feedback to things that I write, though I prefer it to be of the gushing, fawning variety and anything critical to come from the people I love, such as the above.
I developed this thin skin when I started writing columns in Cocoa, Fla., in the early 1980s. I was enjoying myself, learning my craft as I made predictions on the local high school games each week, occasionally being sarcastic and OK, maybe caustic and perhaps even occasionally insulting, depending on your point of view.
I thought I was hysterical.
Shockingly, others did not. And so they would write to me, and high school football being the passionate diversion that it was in Central Florida, the letters were, um, very passionate.
In the interest of good taste and federal regulations involving Internet decency, I cannot share the contents of most of them. One that stands out in my mind however, told me in graphic terms that I should stop writing about football until I could “pee standing up.”
This was a recurring theme in those days, the fact that I was a woman apparently much more offensive than whatever it was I wrote. I did not take this particularly well. But I felt better after one early-morning get-together in which some of my male friends, in a show of support that nearly brought me to tears, set the letter on fire and then put it out in a manner in which the writer pointed out I could not.
Of course, we were young and foolish and there may have been some alcohol involved. I have matured since then and now I simply pout when I receive critical mail.
My husband has urged me in the past not to respond when I receive one of those e-mails that goes beyond the bounds of constructive criticism and human civility. But since you cannot set e-mails on fire with any real satisfaction, I often write back. The writer then responds, then I respond and then we’re in the kind of match that the writer in Cocoa eluded to.
I have largely avoided this in writing my blog mostly because, as I have pointed out in the past, I suspect most of my readers are related to me.
And I can take it when my relatives tell me I’m a moron.
My brother, for example, just told me this today, when he informed me that I could have avoided the cross-country trip to the Sonic drive-in in Algonquin (technically only about 45 minutes away – an hour and a half or more factoring in Founders Day traffic) if I had known there was another Sonic about 15 minutes away from our house.
I think he was making this up to bolster his point that there is a better drive-in, Superdawg, indeed closer to home. When I responded that I had never been to Superdawg, the shock – even via e-mail – was palpable and he let me know that his respect level for me had dropped to embarrassing levels.
Superdawg is a Chicago institution. Of this, I am aware. I am also aware that I have passed by there about 200,000 times as a child on my way from our house to O’Hare Airport. Since I was not driving, I had no real control over the situation, but I do remember being equally captivated and terrified by the GIANT boyfriend and girlfriend hot dogs on its roof.
You can see the giant hot dogs from Indiana on a clear day, so I’m still not sure why my father, a hot dog lover from way back, was never compelled to stop at Superdawg. I can only conclude that he was loyal to his own hot dog stands closer to home and that we could not possibly risk a stop to eat on the way to the airport and possibly miss a pick-up or drop-off (despite the fact that he would have allowed at least three hours to make the 20-minute drive).
If we were the ones getting on a plane, we would have been all dressed up because that’s what you did in those days, and couldn’t possibly risk spilling on ourselves.
All of this came up, in part, because Superdawg is building a new restaurant extremely close to where we live. It is scheduled to open in October and our friend Mike – also a foodie but not that snobby kind – told us it coincides nicely with his wife’s birthday, so we can all celebrate there (his wife’s expectations are pretty low, he explained).
While he was still associating with me, my brother told me about the bike trail that should lead us right to the front door, which will make me happy. And it’s a drive-in, so our daughter Amanda should love it.
We’ll try not to think about what our niece Erica pointed out after reading my last blog about our excursion to find a drive-in.
“Isn’t that just like a drive-thru?” she asked innocently. “You order your food through a speaker and then you eat in the car?”
She’s in college.