2001 was an unpleasant year, and not just because it spawned so many gratuitous references to dull science-fiction movies. I would like to end things on a positive note, but instead, I’m going to share with you The Year in Angry Letters, a wrap-up of the mail I got this year in response to “Snide Remarks.”
Back in February, I made a passing reference to Richard Paul Evans and his “Christmas Box” books, and how they are crap. Then I received this e-mail:
“I haven’t noticed any of your writings made into books [as a side note, don’t forget to buy the two “Snide Remarks” books, published in 1998 and 1999, on sale at the BYU Bookstore], so all of that “crap” from Evans must be liked by quite a few people. [Oh, I didn’t say it wasn’t popular. Just that it wasn’t good.] Personally, that kind of language offends me and I really didn’t see the necessity of using it [except when you’re quoting a columnist, apparently]. Ideas can be put across using a better selection of words.”
Ideas CAN be put across using a better selection of words. Did you hear that, Richard Paul Evans?
In April, I discussed the difference between “chick flicks” (which only women can enjoy), and “date movies” (which men can sort of tolerate). I said men will endure any kind of boring date the woman can conjure up — even reading magazines in a gynecologist’s office — as long as he thinks he might get a kiss at the end of it.
That column begat this angry, anonymous letter. See if you can figure out what the writer is actually angry about. (Hint: You can’t.)
“I try not to read your column. [Not very hard, apparently.] … However, I must be a sucker for punishment because I go back to it when I have time to open my Daily Herald. … ‘Snide Remarks’ should be re-titled ‘Ignorant Bliss’ by Mr. Dumb A**. [Alas, that name’s already been copyrighted by Rush Limbaugh.] …
“Are you really so provincial to think that a date is for the woman’s enjoyment only? … Where did you find your lovely wife? Russia? [Did she just manufacture a wife for me out of her imagination and then make fun of her? Yeah, I think she did.]
“Incidentally, I challenge you to find a woman brassy enough to include a trip to the gynecologist as part of a date. [Because for sure I wasn’t exaggerating when I mentioned that as a possible date.] This is NOT a fun activity by the way.” [What?!]
She went on for a while, but I lost interest faster than a guy at a Bette Midler movie.
A month later, I mentioned computer demon SuperDell, and how he’s the most annoying man on the face of the Earth, which has actually been verified by the Supreme Court. I got this e-mail, which was spelled exactly as it is here:
“I read you article on SuperDell and I hate him as well! However, you sound like a tight [swear word] close minded [swear word] and your topics and writing ability suck perharps you should ask yourself why superdell is worth a few million and all you can do is criticize him”
Yes. Perharps I should. Perharps we all should wonder how someone so rich could possibly be subject to criticism.
On July 4, I referred to how the founding fathers “slapped together this great nation of ours.” I also mentioned Andrew Jackson’s drunken inauguration party, which is well-documented by history. I got this e-mail:
“How dare you say that the ‘Founding Fathers slapped together this great nation of ours’. [Which word did she object to, “slapped” or “great”?] Who do you think you are? [Who DON’T I think I am?] The remarks made about Andrew Jackson are atrocious. [And true.] You would do well to consider what it cost the men who founded this country, and consider doing something similar.” [I should found my own country? OK, but you won’t be allowed in.]
In a separate letter she wrote for the Opinion page, she said she was “horrified” to see this column in the paper. I picture her cowering under her chair at the breakfast table, maybe making a cross with her fingers to ward off the power of the column. And then I wish I had a photograph of that.
After the last letter was printed, we received this one from someone named “LaJean,” and it was written exactly as follows:
“I would hope by the time you get this a written apology by, Eric Snider, has been made. I to was concerned as was the neighbors who wrote on July of their objection of the July 4 remarks by him. In talking to others slap in done in objection to. For Eric to say our forefathers slapped together this great nation. The other slander in the article was rediculous.”
Perharps those founding fathers should have done more with the public school system. Perharps, perharps, perharps.
I say "perharps" now in casual conversation. Thank you, dumb person!
It being the end of the year allows columnists to write "easy" columns like this one, by the way. It's in our Code of Ethics somewhere.
Strangely, this column making fun of angry letters prompted two angry letters -- from people whose angry letters I was making fun of. (Don't they realize what I DO with angry letters?) Here's one:
Imagine my surprise in reading your article this morning to find a letter quoted which I wrote to you last February. I had no idea it would make such an impression.
As to your being published I am not surprised but is the BYU book store the criteria of book sales?? [We weren't talking about sales. We were talking about whether a book of mine exists, which the BYU Bookstore is plenty proof of.]
I was trying to make the point that there are obviously a lot of people who enjoy books without offensive language, which by the way, I try not to use "except when you're quoting a columnist".
A month or so ago I picked up a magazine in a doctor's office (maybe it was Family Circle ... OK .. so it wasn't Reader's Digest ... I don't remember) in which was an article of People Who Make A Difference. As you might guess, it was your favorite author, Mr. Evans. [Oh, I didn't say it wasn't popular. Just that it wasn't good. Wait, why do those words sound familiar? Oh, because I just said them in this column! And yet here you are, trying to make the same point as before, that lots of people like him, so he must be OK.]
Do you covet his success? Your articles are well read [they're apparently not read very well, if you're writing angry letters in response to my making fun of your angry letter] and I look forward to them. [Translation: I think you're funny -- except when you make fun of something I like; then you're not funny.] I realize the whole point is being "snide" ...I just think you could do much better being a little kinder.
Sincerely, Jo Weber
Then I got this one, from the "Founding Fathers slapped together this great nation"? lady, Sue Maxwell. She's a crusader, this one, and this is one of the most self-righteous letters I've ever read. It's not an angry letter, but it sure made ME angry.
Dear Eric, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. From experience I share with you that life has a way of humbling all of us, and pray that when your turn comes, that you will have the courage, fortitude, and spiritual preparation to go through it in a way that will benefit you and others. Do not think that you will escape. May the Lord bless you with an understanding of who you are and who He is, and what His Plan is for your life. Sue Maxwell
I responded thus:
That you would presume to know so much about me, and then to offer such personal, unsolicited counsel on something you know nothing about, is utterly stunning. I'm sure you mean well, but you come across as self-righteous and pompous.
I am curious what I have written that causes you to think I'm in the condition implied by your e-mail. I am sure it cannot be because I said the founding fathers "slapped together" this great nation of ours. Surely you could not leap to so far a conclusion just from that.
And yet, as curious as I am, I also hope never to have the misfortune of corresponding with you again.
Eric D. Snider
I got my wish and never heard from Sue Maxwell, the most self-righteous woman in Provo, ever again.