I wrote a “Snide Remarks” column in June that dealt with renewing my driver’s license, and somehow horses were involved, too. Accompanying the column was the picture seen here, of a minor British royal falling off her horse during an equestrian event. I included this caption: “She and the animal were both uninjured, but I don’t care, because that’s an awesome photo anyway.”
This cavalier attitude struck a nerve with a reader named Amber, who discovered the column five months later and posted three very angry comments (#60-62) on it. She also sent me the following scorching e-mail, from a return address of “beautyofhorses@[something].com”:
Have YOU read my posts ERIC!!?!?!!?!?!??? If you have you can tell that I’m pretty pisted off!!!!!!!! All my friends are too and they all [swear word] HATE YOU now!!!! How rude is it to post a picture of an inosint horse and rider getting injured and then say I DON”T CARE!!!!??!?! [So she read the part of the sentence that said I didn’t care, but missed the part of the same sentence where I said they weren’t injured. That is some seriously selective reading.] YOU [swear word]!!! It’s people like YOU who kill animals and the environment!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe I should post a picture of YOU, yes YOU ERIC doing something painful and say “well I just wanted to post this picture because it is a good picture,but I don’t care that Eric’s hurt. I DON”T CARE!!!” [Fine with me! I’ll send you some.] That’s what YOU did with the horse and rider!! Horses are amazing, beautiful animals and deserved to be treated with respect unlike YOU i may add!!!!!! SHOW A LITTLE RESPECT FOR OTHER THINGS IN YOUR PATHETIC LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and to think I used to like this site!!!!! HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I [swear word] hate it now!!!!!!!!!! I bet A LOT of other people do now too!! [How can they fail to, when you make your arguments so convincingly?] Oh ya and the driving learn how to drive YOURSELF [swear word]!!!!!!!!!!So please e-mail me back SOME kind of response.You should read my posts too. THEY might scare away some potential ericsnider site lovers!!!! BYE
P.S.I’m right to be doing so too!!!! Even though I didn’t put this letter in THE ANGRY LETTERS SECTION I want this to go STRAIGHT to YOU!!!!!! [I do wish more readers shared her foresight and labeled their correspondence as “angry” when appropriate. It would save my staff so much sorting time.]
Per her request, I replied to her e-mail. This is what I said:
Yes, yes, I saw your comments. I had to edit out the swear words before I could post them.
First, let me point out a couple of obvious things. The horse was not hurt. (Neither was the rider, but you don’t seem to care about non-horse beings.) Also, I did not take the photo myself. I believe I got it from Yahoo News. It was taken by a news photographer at the event, and then widely posted by various news outlets. Have you written hilarious angry letters to all of those outlets, too, for printing the photo?
Now then. Let me tell you a little about yourself. You are a teenage girl, and you are obsessed with horses. That’s fine! A lot of teenage girls are obsessed with horses. You grow out of it eventually. (Don’t say, “I’ll never grow out of it!,” because that’s something that teenage girls say. Eventually you grow out of that, too.)
You’ve chosen horses as your one thing to care about more than anything in the world. You’re the Horse Girl. It’s becoming your defining characteristic. People will say, “Do you know Amber?,” and someone will say, “Hmm, Amber… Amber….” and the first one will say, “You know — the Horse Girl.” And the second person will say, “Oh! Sure, Amber!”
Horses are your “thing.” As a result of this, you blow horse-related things way out of proportion. Becoming enraged by the sight of a news photo of a horse falling down, for example. Posting multiple angry messages on a website. Writing to the person responsible because you’re CONVINCED that he will see it your way and apologize. These are all symptoms of horses being your “thing” to the exclusion of all rationality and common sense.
Other teenage girls have other “things.” One of them is the movie “Titanic.” Some girls became very obsessed with it, to the point that when I made fun of it, they flew into a rage that was very similar to yours. They even said similar things about how they used to love my writing but now they hate it. You might read those angry letters and laugh and think, “Wow, those girls sure are getting worked up over nothing!”
The thing is, that’s what people will think when they read your angry letter, too.
You’re far too young to be this angry. Relax. Calm down. You have your whole life ahead of you. It’s already going to be hard, since most girls named Amber wind up working as strippers. So chill out, don’t sweat the small stuff, and enjoy life. Someday you’ll look back on all this and laugh.
Far too late, I realized something: The picture was of a woman falling off a horse. Nothing even happened to the horse. It didn’t fall or anything. Amber’s outrage was even less reasonable than I thought.