First, a big thank you to the many of you who sent me messages after my last post. It is nice to be appreciated for your writing. For me, it’s nice to be praised for something that was about my dad.
One of my sisters pointed out (rightly so) why Dad would have been laughing at me running. He was an actuary. Numbers never lied to him and the more data he could get his hands on the more complete a picture of your impending mortality he could paint for you. Runners, it seems, tend to die. Well, if I remember this one correctly, it had something to do with the fact that all human beings die. In a nutshell, though, runners tended to enjoy a negligibly similar mortality with non-runners (there was always that control group). In other words, overall, running doesn’t make you live longer or shorter. But it did correlate with death from (do not quote me on this) an enlarged heart. Again, there wasn’t a direct cause and effect, just a correlation. Whatever, I’m going to keep running so I have a way to burn up the nervous energy of an ex-smoker – as in, “What do I do with my hands!?”
Now then, on to the rest of the mail.
Six and half years ago, right after moving to Texas, my wife, in-law’s, and I traveled to Oklahoma one night to see one of my favorite singers – the immortal Frankie Valli. I then wrote a story about it. I’m not even going to link it. If you want, you can find it for yourself. In that story, as in so many stories I’ve written over the years, I employed a sort of absurdist humor. For the uneducated or uninitiated, this type of humor is represented by several key hallmarks including series of events that do not follow (often in an extreme fashion, also called “non sequitir humor”), descriptives that are patently false yet played for reality, and a sense that the narrator may in fact be suffering from dementia. In my story about Mr. Valli, the reader ought to be able to tell a few things. First, I truly do love this man, his voice, and his contribution to the world. There is no denying that. Second, I am using absurdist humor to prop him up. In other words, at an age when every human on the planet has outlived his actuarily lifespan; Frankie Valli is still making a buck, doing what he loves.
So I received the following comment…
At first I wondered if the person posting the comment was a personal friend of Mr. Valli. Then I began to realize something… There is at least one person who read a post of mine almost seven years ago and remembered it well enough to dredge it back up. In an absurd way, this person just validated my writing. But let me address the issue at hand because I do not like to stifle criticism. I’m a big boy and I can take it. The comment was civil in tone. Let’s assume that we live in a world in which a guy from Newark, NJ can’t poke some fun at an idol of his who also happens to come from Newark, NJ (which is a pretty awesome place, by the way) and is a gazillionaire celebrity who’s probably seen worse on the pages of Billboard Magazine. Let’s assume. Well, then, Mr. Valli and your dear family, I apologize for hurting your feelings. If you’d ever like to suggest that my writing is crap please feel free. It’s on me this time. I promise I won’t even cry.
In the meantime, if you’d like to keep reading I will keep writing. And Frankie, if you’re reading this and you ever feel like sending me an autographed headshot for my kids (who also adore you), let me know. I’ll send you my address.