Saturday, March 28, 2009

Crazy is, as crazy does

Both my art and words have been appearing in print since the early-1970s. I wish I could say it's been lucrative, it's more a matter of me not knowing what else to do. Over the years, most of the people who have bothered to speak to me about something they saw of mine have said nice things. Then, too, I've also had many a lively discussion over coffee or beer with a reader who wanted to change my mind.

Every now and then it gets too weird. Right away, you know they want something from you that you're not going to feel comfortable giving up.

Such was the case when a man called me on a Saturday night in the early 1990s. He told me we had never met, but he’d read an issue of SLANT. He said he had to talk with me, right then, because I was such a good writer...
Naturally, he was calling from a bar.

Well, I was watching a movie with my then-girlfriend, so I didn’t want to have a long conversation. It was late and the more this strange-sounding character talked, the less inclined I felt toward having anything to do with him. He said he had a story he had to tell me, something having to do with corruption in high places that I should write about.

The next thing you know, he started querying me about my religious beliefs ... uh, oh. So, I told him I didn’t want to meet with him that night. Still, I thanked the caller for the compliment and asked him to call back during business hours, if he still wanted to talk. I don’t remember his name, now, but I did when I told the story of his odd phone call to some friends a couple of days later at Happy Hour.

One of them promptly recognized his name.

“You remember him,” he said, “that was the crazy guy they found on the Huguenot Bridge, maybe in February, about a couple of years ago. He was bleeding to death.” According to the story my Saturday night caller had bought into the Bible saying -- something like, if thy right arm offends thee cut it off.

He had gone down to the wooded area north of the bridge. After putting his offending arm into the canal water to numb it down, he had chunked it into a fork in a small tree’s limbs. Then he hacksawed that bad arm off, just below the elbow.

Of course he did!

Everyone at the bar, except me, chuckled. I was busy wondering why such a person from another planet would want to talk to me about anything? What had I written that had set him off? It was hardly the first time I’d been approached by a creepy reader, but this one was setting a new standard.

Blogging opens the door to all sorts of possibilities, as bloggers interact with readers. In recent weeks there have been comments made here under my posts that have made me wonder where to draw certain lines. While I am happy to discuss most reactions to my writings and art, there is a limit to what I will put up with.

At times, I've let some silliness get under my skin.

Here's one thing for sure, more civility in today's way of walking would be a good thing, all around. And, that includes the blogosphere. Crazy is, as crazy does. Can you dig it?


anne said...

Rita Mae Brown said something really wise about encounters with people who know you from your writing:

"If people like your work and tell you, that's a fabulous feeling. If they give you flowers or a memento of their regard, be grateful. They went to a lot of trouble to please you. If they ask for more than that, they are over the line."

I've had to gently explain this to my folks when they don't know why I'm not thrilled that someone called their house at 9pm on a weekend because they just read something I wrote that they liked and my parents' number is listed and mine is not. There's a reason for that! It's nice to be read and appreciated, and even nicer to be told so -- at the right time and place.

Melissa Loughridge Savenko said...

Dear FT: If I haven't been clear in the past, let me try now to do better: I think you are doing an important public service, by casting a skeptical eye on the Baseball in the Bottom proposal. I just wish we could all debate the merits of the proposal, and the back-up data, in a reasonable, rational, adult way. That is NOT to say that I think you or you alone have been less than decorous in the discussion. That is just to note for the record that sometimes this "debate" has degenerated to the point that it seems a tit-for-tat "who shot John?", rather than any meaningful discussion. No fingers pointed here, just a general observation. Thanks for being willing to take a stand, and defend your position. Whether I ultimately end up being 100% in your camp, or 100% on the other side, or more likely somewhere in the middle, I think the dialogue is INDUBITABLY an important one. Thanks for letting me have a small part in the discussion. Caring about this City, and having the courage of your convictions to stand up and put yourself out there to articulate and defend your position - well, I think that's a GOOD thing, and something to be admired. Best regards, Melissa