Friday, February 23, 2007

Sorry, wrong number...

Both my art and writing have been appearing in print for over 35 years. In that time, most of the people who have bothered to speak to me about something they saw of mine have meant well, and I enjoyed their comments, even when they disagreed with me.

Then, every now and then, it gets too weird. Such was the case when a man called me on a Saturday night in the early 1990s. We had never met. He’d read an issue of SLANT and 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 comfortable I felt about having anything to do with him. He said he had a story he had to tell me, something I had to write about.

Then he started babbling about religion. Uh, oh...

So, I told him I didn’t want to meet with him that night, as he had been suggesting. Still, I thanked him for the compliment and asked him to call back during business hours, if he wanted to talk any more. 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 year ago. He was bleeding to death.” According to the story in the newspaper my Saturday night fan had apparently bought into one of those old-world axioms. It was something like -- if thy right arm offends thee, cut it off.

My fan, obviously a religious man, went down to the wooded area north of the bridge. He put his offending arm into the canal water to numb it. Then he chunked his arm into a fork in a small tree’s limbs, took out his hacksaw, and he sawed that bad arm off, just below the elbow.

Everyone at the bar, except me, chuckled. I was busy wondering why such a determined nut would want to talk to me about anything? What had I written that had set him off? Would he call back?

It was hardly the first time I’d been approached by a creepy reader, but this one -- he sawed his arm off! -- was especially disturbing. Quite naturally, now I think a little more about what I write, sometimes, in a way I didn’t before that incident.

Blogging opens the door to all sorts of possibilities. While I am happy to discuss readers’ reactions to my work, there has to be a limit to what I will put up with. Yet, in the blogosphere, it appears there are always going to be those who will test those limits. The story above is just one of the reasons I won’t suffer fools of a particular stripe but for so long.

Furthermore, I urge other bloggers to be careful how much you engage unreasonable people who don’t really mean well at all. Some will try your patience, and a few of them may be out of control in a dark way you don’t want to know about.


Thomas Krehbiel said...

Spank, I'm very interested to hear you explain how your self-described battles in the blogophere are supporting LCPL Morris's family.

F.T. Rea said...

Notice to readers,

It seems no matter how I tell blogging stalker Spankthatdonkey, directly or indirectly, that his obnoxious comments are not welcome here at SLANTblog, he persists in coming back to try to goad me into a “debate.”

In the comments of his that I just deleted, he said for the umpteenth time that I “shrink” from his “challenge” to “debate” him. This stalker can’t accept that my desire to not engage him is the same thing to me as avoiding a pile of dog manure on a sidewalk.

Spankthatdonkey apparently feels his cause -- promoting himself/his blog under the guise of being a swashbuckling anti-terrorist -- gives him whatever license he needs to bother/harass anyone he selects as the enemy. Serious conservatives who continue to act as if what this man has been doing along these lines is OK certainly do their cause no good.

Thomas Krehbiel,

Sorry, but Spankthatdonkey’s claptrap had to be emptied out with the garbage. You’ll have to catch his act elsewhere.

Thomas Krehbiel said...

No problem. I feel your pain. :)

F.T. Rea said...

Thomas Krehbiel,

Well, in my travels I’ve run across lots of wannabe players who use getting under a person’s skin, hoping to gain some cheap advantage. Some of them see their tactics as gamesmanship. Or perhaps they just do it to amuse themselves when they’re not pulling the wings off bugs.

Also among my experiences is being on the victim end of a sicko stalker. It was more than a little unpleasant. Ever since, when I sense that same sort of creepy fixation thing from somebody, anybody, I move away. And, I push off as hard as the situation seems to merit.

Spankthatdonkey isn’t going to buffalo me, but he has played the creepy/obnoxious card with me too many times for me to ignore it. It’s a part of his act I won’t tolerate here any more.

Anonymous said...

You obviously are intimidated by Marines if you have a problem with Spank. I didn't even see his post; you had already removed it. Normally it says "Post removed" but didn't see that on yours.

Huguenot Bridge -- only a true Richmonder would know that bridge. You from there? I grew up in the vicinity 35 years ago ... you must have grown up on the liberal side of the rivah. I grew up on the conservative side.

~SWAC Girl

F.T. Rea said...

SWAC Girl,

You obviously don’t know much about me. And, anyone who can read a map would know the name of that bridge ... what's your point?

Triscula said...

So SWACgirl is now posting as Spankey's proxy?

F.T. Rea said...


"Proxy?" Hmm...

Is that what they're calling it today?