Tuesday, January 18, 2005


In Which Marks Are Made...


...so I yelled "Think fast!" and threw the bag of dog crap right at him. While he's bobbling this precious gift and making disgusted grunts, I went on one side, the dog went on the other, and the leash caught him at the knees, spilling him onto the ice with a satisfying crunch. A fitting end for his kind. Ass.

Speaking of the dog, the lab tests reported him cancer free, which was cause for much elation...until it dawns on you that you've just spent a lot of money on what essentially amounts to cosmetic surgery for your dog. Well, and peace of mind. There's that, sure.

Two days in, and I can already call it a Strange Week. I was elated to follow the upward trajectory of my friend Jennifer's new novel, which besides being a Critic's Choice in this week's People, was also very well thought of by this unimportant rag. I'm so happy for her (but of course she deserves it).

So happy, but then strangely bummed to find that one of my favorite bloggers has closed up shop and gone to ground. I suppose it sounds weird and stalkerish to lament the loss of the writings of someone you don't really know, but in magazines, I always hate it when a favorite writer's or columnist's byline suddenly vanishes, and of course you never get an explanation about where they went. In the end, all you can do is wish them well and remember their name and hope you see it again. Same deal here.

Events like these set me to ruminating about the impact we make on people's lives and on the world in general. I like to think of it in terms of the George Bailey Effect: What would the world be like minus you?

As a writerly type, I never really had what I would call great aspirations to leave behind some impressive body of work that will alter worldviews and warp DNA. My ambitions were a bit more modest.

For instance, as a kid, I thought it would be cool to invent a joke no one else had thought of before and have it catch on and become part of the Joke Continuum. Later, I thought it would be neat to add an urban legend to the modern mythology. And there, I have come close:

In 1991, I was working for an obscure trade publisher, and whilst puttering around the archives, I came across a recently cancelled medical journal for retired urologists and OB/GYNs. There couldn't have been a dozen readers of this thing, and it was a pretty staid and strait-laced place I worked for, so there wasn't much interest in the sensational. You can therefore imagine my surprise to find, in the last issue of this journal, a first person account from a retired urologist who treated a man whose generative organs had an unfortunate encounter with a machine-shop drive belt, causing the kind of injury that triggers the Universal Wince in all males. An injury the man decides to self-treat--with a staple gun.

This was 1991, remember, and in those days the Internet was called the Fax. And I promptly faxed a half-dozen copies of the one-page story to some friends. Including a friend in Manhattan. She worked for the world's largest advertising agency at the time, and knew everyone. Within a week, millions had this story. She faxed it to a friend in the Navy and the story spread around the world.

For years afterwards, I saw this story on people's bulletin boards and I knew it came from me...because in some cases I could still see my company's original fax header on the paper. But in all cases, I could see the underlines and extra exclamations I had added to the copy (as if it needed it).

And now of course it's online, and a part of the archives of every urban legends page worth tracking. I grant you, it's not as famous as The Hook or numerous other stories. And of course the story didn't originate with me. And of course it's nothing you want included in your resume, or your eulogy. And of course...

You know what? Never mind.

From Somewhere On the Masthead

I'm surprised this one never passed my email but I can assure you it will be forwarded to all my friends now! And I can even brag that I know who sent it out initially! :P So the Urban legend (well truth as you and snopes.com admit) lives on!
Kudos to you!
I had never heard that story before, and ...OUCH!
What a dumbass! lol
What I really want to know is: The whole story about the man you threw the bag of dog crap at and put on his ass!?! There are a couple people I'd like to do that to.
Thanks for the good laugh to start my day!
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