Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Joke's On Me



                                                                             
                                                                   

Welcome to the April edition of the IWSG, Be sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh, and all of the other talented writers.

The IWSG and the blogging community have always held a special place in my heart, because the writers welcome all writing styles, and are always quick to laugh at each other and themselves. Unfortunately, the real world isn't always as understanding.

My first experience with disgruntled readers occurred in a most unlikely news story. I was writing about a talented sculptor and writer who penned his first book at 90. He was an entertaining interview who led an incredible life that filled at least two or three books. Then the conversation shifted when I asked him about his love life. He jokingly said, "I run around with a few crazy old women." I laughed, our photographer laughed and even his publicist laughed. Unfortunately, one of the "crazy old women" had a different reaction when she read about it.

The story made the front page, so it received a lot of coverage in our community. What started as a joke from a charming 90-year-old-man was seen as a vicious attack on his lady friend. Her daughter wrote letters saying how this man had ruined her reputation and her life. I decided to act upon receipt of the second letter.

I thought long and hard about my response. She assured me that her mother was a well-educated  pillar of the community that deserved to be treated with the utmost respect. The mother and daughter seemed to be more concerned about being labeled as "crazy" than the fact that there was at least one other woman in the picture. I couldn't say that the man was joking, because that would've only added insult to injury. I also couldn't try to reach the daughter by phone, because I doubted the dispute could be settled in one phone call.

The only logical step was to write a letter from one doting daughter to another. I thought about how protective I was of my mom and commended her for being such a wonderful daughter. Of course, if she only knew that my mom and I battled wits on my blog, she would've never forgiven me.

I tossed and turned all night wondering how the mother and daughter would react. Fortunately,
she sent an email the next morning saying that they appreciated my thoughtful response. They decided to stay clear of this narcissistic nonagenarian, and move on with their lives.

Little did they know the context of our conversation was that his lady friends enjoyed going to the opera and other events and he just wanted to have someone to spontaneously go out for dinner with now and then. I never had the opportunity to explain that in the article, as I was adhering to the word count, and had a difficult time paring down his life story. However, I never professionally wrote that anyone was "crazy" again, as it's no joking matter at any age.

Of course my mom didn't understand what the big deal was, because she loves being spontaneous as long as she has plenty of notice.



26 comments:

  1. I enjoyed reading this story. I agree that it sounds as if the gentleman was joking, but I can also see how some might have taken offense at the word, "crazy." Sounds to me like you were caught in the middle of a difficult situation, but that you handled it very diplomatically. I hope you have a nice Easter.

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  2. People are just too sensitive. You handled it very well.

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  3. I agree with Alex, it sounds like these people were too sensitive. What the heck?? I feel like it should have been obvious it was a joke.

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  4. I also agree with Alex, it was just an expression. However, I now live in a country where they don't do sarcasm. When we first came here we would have been called out for a comment like that, and it would have been pointed out to us that it is actually mean spirited. I still hear the fun in "crazy old ladies" but I wouldn't say it anymore.

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    1. Rhonda - It's true how we have to be so careful about what we're saying. It would be hard to live without sarcasm, but you've always had a wonderful sense of humor! Thanks Rhonda!

      Julie

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  5. Connie - If the man had been younger, I probably would've taken the word "crazy" out of the story, but I thought it was funny coming from a 90-year-old. Thanks Connie and Happy Easter to you!

    Alex - I agree that they were being overly sensitive, but after two emails, I just wanted to nip it in the bud. Thanks for another wonderful IWSG, Alex!

    Julie - The mother seemed to take their relationship very seriously, and her daughter was defending her honor. I thought it was an obvious joke too, Thanks Julie!

    Julie

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  6. Great story and you handled it well. And guess what? I love being spontaneous as long as I have plenty of notice too, lol.

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    1. I always knew that I liked you, Debra! Thank you!

      Julie

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  7. In a word: hyper-sensitive.

    I won't run around with people who take themselves THAT seriously.

    ~ D-FensDogG

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  8. What a world we live in.

    If you write about me, feel free to use the words Crazy, Insane, and Brilliant... I won't mind.

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  9. Ah. Some people. We are so different yet so similar. You handled it well.

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  10. Hi Stephen, Glad you won't "run around" with that wild group! Thanks Stephen!

    Chris - Sounds like you've hit the trifecta! I love it! Thanks Chris!

    Lux - I agree that they overreacted just a tad! Thanks Lux!

    Julie

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  11. I think the woman and her family overreacted but you handled t well.

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  12. I once got hate mail when I wrote a column on tolerance. I found out that no matter what you write, there will be people out there who find something that they imagine is offensive.

    I am very proud to be a crazy old lady. I wear it as a badge of honor. Crazy is better than dull or dead.

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  13. Hi Julie - what a 'crazy' story as you describe .. and how ridiculous ... but well done on settling it down. Gosh I love being described as slightly cracked up and usually join in the laughter - congratulations though on the way you dealt with it. Your Mum?! Spontaneous as long as there's plenty of notice! Great and thanks for giving a laugh and a thought for the day ... cheers Hilary

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  14. Hi Natalie! I was very lucky that she accepted my letter, as a peace offering, because I didn't have a plan B. Thanks Natalie!

    Hi Arleen! I originally entitled this story, "Hate Mail," but changed it as this was much gentler than some of the other emails I've received. Sorry that someone had the nerve to attack your column on tolerance. I'd love to hear how you handled it. Yes, crazy is better than dull or dead! You are not crazy or dull and you still have a lot of living and marching to do! Thanks Arleen!

    Hi Hilary! I think we're both "slightly cracked up" and that's why we get along so well! Unfortunately, I need to work on being more spontaneous too. Thanks Hilary!

    Julie

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  15. I think you handled the situation perfectly! Love 'spontaneous with lotsa notice' :)

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    1. Carol - The acorn doesn't fall far from the tree, as I need to work on my spontaneity too! Thanks Carol!

      Julie

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  16. Well, some people just can't take a joke. We live in touchy times.

    I have a friend who is now 94 who has written several novels with only one published which he did with his own resources. His story about that is kind of funny though it's too bad that he didn't sell more than he did. A couple years ago he finished his giant epic novel. After a few attempts to get some attention for it he basically gave up trying to get it published. It's too bad as he had really put a lot of work into it and it wasn't too bad--a rather topical subject about illegal immigration. I hope he gets back to trying to do something with it, but now he's dealing with his wife who is in early stages of Alzheimer's.

    And anyone can call me crazy if they want. They do and I am a bit.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  17. It's odd how people take things. I used to be very offended if someone referred to my mother as crazy because she actually suffered from severe schizophrenia. But I have no problem at all if someone says it of me.

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  18. Hi Lee, I'm so sorry that I didn't see this before. It's a shame that your friend didn't publish more of his books, but I'm impressed that he's written so many books at his age! So sad about his wife. Hope A to Z is going well! Thanks for stopping by during such a busy time. I'll come for a visit soon! Thanks Lee!

    LD - I'd much rather be called crazy than wrong, which seems perfectly normal to me! Sorry about your mom. I'm sure that you told those idiots off. Thanks LD!

    Julie

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  19. I'm often called crazy and without any notice or, I might add, provocation on my part. Perhaps I should demand more respect. Now I'm sounding like Roger Dangerfield.

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  20. Hi Julie! This was like reading a case study. I work in communications and I've definitely tossed and turned about an issue at one time or another. Sounds like you handled it well, so kudos to you! To blog/write publicly is to be brave.

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  21. Hi Lee, Haha! You could never be like Rodney Dangerfield, but you have to give him credit for being one of a kind! A little bit crazy is a good thing! Thanks Lee!

    Ashley Ashbee sounds like a heroine in a romantic novel! I love it! Thanks for calling me brave, but you've never seen me when there's a spider in the house. Hope you're not tossing and turning anymore.

    Julie

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  22. You handled it well at the end. Awesome job.

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