Whenever I'm foolish enough to slow down and reflect on what I do - poking fun at the pompous, ranting about our foibles, and complaining about the inanities of daily life - it can seem awfully trivial. Naturally, immediately following a dramatic tragedy like the space shuttle explosion, this feeling only intensifies. But then Monday morning, I received an e-mail from a reader named "Lezlie" who put things in a slightly different perspective. She said, "Humor is the only thing that will get us through this and I thank you from the bottom of my jaded heart for yours!"
As flattering as Lezlie's e-mail was, I don't really think that my thoughts about things like the advantages and disadvantages of online divorce, or why it's illegal for lap dancers in Nevada to touch a client's feet really have a great impact on readers' lives. However, her message motivated me to decide that this week I would share with all of you some of the readers' comments on my comments.
Not everybody feels as positively about my work as Lezlie. "LEE'S" comment on my decision not to run for President was, "Who the hell are you??? Do you really think anyone cares what you think???" I guess Lee doesn't!!!
On the other hand, RFL responded to the same column by saying, "That was the funniest article that I have read in a long time. If you do decide to run, I will join the campaign."
Like Lezlie, many kind readers tell me how much they like to smile or laugh. CHERIE: "It's so refreshing to wake up to a laugh." AMY: "You are so funny!" CARYL: "Your articles always make me chuckle." But right about when I start to get a swelled head, I get an email like the one from CALEB... who said, "I will not read your columns ever!" Or like the one from TWN who said, "Well the story as humor, ain't, and as a political hit piece, ain't."
The column that got the most e-mail in the past few months was about some schools outlawing the game of tag because they worried about kids' self-esteem plummeting when they were "it." SERENITY wrote: "Smartly written. You're it!"
MARY felt very strongly about the situation: "The kids raised under such policies... will become far worse than mere wimps. They will be whiny adults totally unprepared with how to cope with life, and the rest of us will be forced to put up with them."
BILL's response made me sad: "What you fail to acknowledge or address is the fact that some kids never win. They lose on the playground, they lose in class, they lose when the tests come back, they lose at dating and popularity, and maybe they lose at home also. Perhaps it's the losing day after day, year after year, that truly does crush the spirit in some of our fellow humans."
Fortunately, one of the best parts about my job is that so many of the e-mails I get are fun to read. When DAVID read my piece about intrepid golfers braving lightning storms and even prostitutes camped out on one course, he wrote: "I've never played golf. ... however, after reading your story about the game, I feel that I would be a good golfer."
In response to my writing about people who are too busy to pray so they pay other people to do it for them, GINA wrote: "That was a wonderfully written article. Amen!" And JOSEPH wrote, "Clever ending. I'll pray for your next good ending. For free."
After reading my column about Paris, LARRY wrote, "I am a non-smoker, but would gladly put up with a smoke-filled room to be sitting right now in a bistro somewhere in Paris, instead of an office in Houston!"
FREDDIE's comment on my column about Botox was, "Nice article. Unfortunately, my eyebrows are so droopy I couldn't read it."
Regarding the German millionaire who said he would promise any woman $250,000 if she killed him with sex, ALISON responded: "The way for me to contact Mr. Rolf Eden is ...???"
On my column regarding former Enron employees who posed in Playboy, ED said, "This is your first column where I want to bring up the unprintable version."
Regarding the column "Slobs Make Better Lovers," CHELLE informed me that her ex-husband was a neat freak, "and while he might be upset with the results [of the survey], he'll be too busy organizing to ever do anything about it."
One reader, MARY, warned me that my enjoying getting all this e-mail might be short-lived: "After you've been writing for a while and you see all the crap people write about you, you won't be so happy to hear from folks. They can get very nasty." I'll take that chance. If you have something to say to me, go right ahead. Your e-mails almost always make me smile, regardless of your opinions.
And despite there being some terrible things in the news these days, let me quote my new best friend Lezlie one more time: "If we ever stop smiling, the world ends."
Lloyd Garver has written for many television shows, ranging from "Sesame Street" to "Family Ties" to "Frasier." He has also read many books, some of them in hardcover.
By Lloyd Garver
Copyright 2002 CBS. All rights reserved.