One of the greatest pleasures I get from writing a column is reading the emails I receive from people who view my weekly rantings.
And what’s amazing is how many men write to me. I never expected that, but there are a whole lot of gentlemen out there who feel the need to stick up for Hubby. They know I’m only joking (ahem) about him, but they feel a kinship with him and want me to know it. I think it’s adorable and John does get a kick out of it.
Certain columns get more of a response than others and I always take note of it, just for my own sake. I like knowing about the human condition. It helps me write my books. What are people really interested in? What hits them where it hurts? What are the struggles that affect all of us? I certainly don’t feel alone anymore. I have a whole army of people who let me know that they, too, are suffering or rejoicing or dying of boredom.
Like my column about shopping with Hubby to buy slippers and the nonsense he put me through so he could buy a cheaper pair. My inbox was filled with women who know this particular struggle. One of them wrote, “What time shall I pick up my husband, because he’s obviously at your house!”
I was actually approached in a women’s washroom by a lady who tapped me on the shoulder. “Men!” she sniffed. “They drive you crazy! I’m glad to know I’m not the only one out here dealing with a cheapskate.”
For the record, Hubby is not a cheapskate with anyone else — just himself. Which drives me nuts. He’ll spend a fortune on me or the kids, but balks at $20 undershirts. You know, the nice ones that are soft and thick and something he should be wearing on cold winter days. But no, packs of three are good enough for him. Ugh.
I also received a lot of response on a column I wrote about the perils of family visits, which are supposed to be a good time, but often aren’t. I recalled the terrible episode of our daughter’s dog eating barbecue gunk the minute after she arrived from Halifax and how we had a vomiting dog in the house all weekend. Not to mention a daughter who was distraught about her furry baby and who cast accusing glances at her father.
“How did I know the foolish dog would find it?”
A woman wrote to me about the time her daughter arrived at the old homestead with her city dog in tow. The dog jumped out of the car and immediately took off like a shot after the free-range chickens in the yard, whereupon the frantic birds ran willy-nilly into the woods.
The dad yelled at the daughter to control her dog and she shouted back that he was just a puppy and he didn’t understand and why weren’t the stupid chickens in a coop? (I don’t know the exact exchange, but we can all imagine what was said.)
Apparently, the chickens only returned to the yard under the cover of moonlight. I can see them now, tiptoeing quietly back to bed so as not to waken the hound.
One lovely lady from the Annapolis Valley wrote to say she and her elderly brother live together and every Wednesday morning they read my column over breakfast at the kitchen table. That makes me so happy! People still eat breakfast together in the kitchen, while reading the paper. It brings back memories of my father and grandfather. They also read the paper before heading out the door in the morning.
My column about the joy of receiving an actual letter in the mail, in this day and age, hit a nerve. Among the many emails about the subject, I received four handwritten letters in my mailbox agreeing that it’s a lost art. I was touched.
I attended the Read by the Sea Literary Festival in River John a couple of years ago and was signing books after a reading, when a man came up to me and took a clipping out of his wallet.
It was my column on birds, comparing different species with human-like traits.
“I loved what you said about crows sitting together in the backyard waiting to be fed. They do look like teenage boys hunched over smoking in the schoolyard. Thank you for that.”
No, thank you. Thank all of you.
Lesley Crewe is a writer living in, and loving, Cape Breton. These are the meandering musings of a bored housewife whose ungrateful kids left her alone with a retired husband and a fat cat who couldn’t care less. Her 10th novel, Beholden, is in bookstores now.