One of the most gratifying parts of being a writer is making an impact on the lives of strangers. I've had readers tell me my books have cheered them while they were undergoing chemo, radiation, and, once, while passing a kidney stone. My work has brought together at least two couples that I know of and has given hope to misfits everywhere. I also get the occasional angry letter for my supposed misogyny, racism or homophobia. But I've never been threatened.
Welcome to New Thing #328.
It started with the Oregonian running my account of going to the
Blazers game side by side with sports writer Ryan White's story about me taking him to the opera.
I'll admit it was very exciting--a big spread on the front page of the Living section--or as the O calls it, How We Live. (As opposed to How We News or How We Metro.) Then I got a blog comment. And a Facebook message. And an e-mail. All from the same irate mother of a Blazer dancer:
"What no time to slam the Blazer Dancers on your blog? Or just saving that particular brand of sexism for the Oregonian? I am still seething at your characterization (or more aptly, character assassination) of the dancers as talentless, brainless and of ill-repute. Don't make assumptions about other's based on your ill informed and biased views of women."
Okay, here's what I actually wrote in the Oregonian:
"While I’m sure the Blazers Dancers are all wholesome women with unblemished reputations, between the knee-high boots and booty shorts all that was missing was a stripper pole."
I've wrestled the line to the ground a few times since. For starters, I do feel bad for the Blazer dancers. They obviously work very hard and apparently are paid next to nothing. So I deliberately put the qualifier about the women being wholesome because I figured some, if not many, could be. At the same time, though, the line reads ironically because the dancers dress and move in a way that would, in a different setting, cause men to put dollar bills on the bar. I understand that there's a distinctly 21st century disconnect on this issue--that a gyrating, scantily clad pop star, for instance, could truthfully proclaim she's a virgin. But, as someone who has behaved sluttishly in public myself, I can understand if someone would assume it's a reflection of my personal life. In fact, at 42 years old, I welcome it.
The whole affair wouldn't even warrant a mention if the irate mom hadn't written the following:
"I am busy urging my husband and my daughter's husband to seek you out and defend her honor."
How was I supposed to interpret this? I don't know this woman. It's entirely possible that her husband or her daughter's husband are the kind of hotheads who get into bar fights. What's more, all I could think about was that Texas cheerleader mom who hired a hit man to kill the mother of her daughter's rival.
So I called my neighbor the cop.
"I'm glad you called," he said. "I've been meaning to tell you--lately your blog has gotten kinda weak."
Everyone's a critic.
"Okay," I said, "how's this for something new..."
He agreed that words like "seek you out" and "defend her honor" constituted a credible threat. I mean, what else could they mean? These guys are going to come over and challenge me to a game of chess?
Luckily, when I informed the irate mom of my intentions, she backed down, accusing me of misinterpreting her words and taking the opportunity to tell me that my sexist comments were the kind used to justify rape. Followed by her work e-mail signature: "If you know anyone buying or selling a home, I'd appreciate the referral!"
That's my favorite part.
So, dear cyber-friends, I leave the last word to you. Here are the Blazer dancers:
What do YOU think?