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Friday, July 9, 2010

Be Loud

Ah, Le Blogosphere, how I love thee.

You feed into my delusions of grandeur quite adroitly, and I thank you for appropriately inflating my ego, my head, and my naughty bits to appreciable levels.

I received an email a couple days ago from a me-love-you-long-time (very long-time—as in, was-around-for-the-first-blog-long-time) reader and she referred to herself as “a fan.” As such, I suppose this e-mail could be regarded in certain circles as a “fan letter,” even though it wasn’t a letter, per say, it was an email.

So, basically, what I’m saying here is: look at me, I’m getting fan mail. Fortunately, it’s just in my inbox. If anything from a reader of mine showed up in my actual mailbox, I think I’d probably shit myself. Unless it was the complete DVD set of “Homicide: Life on the Street” or “The Carol Burnett Show.” Then I’d be pretty stoked, though I’d probably still shit myself and move to Mozambique.

This fan of mine didn’t just email me to say I was the hottest writer since Gore Vidal, and that my blog was the 21st century’s answer to Mark Twain’s travel writings of the 1860s—she wrote to me to ask me if I would devote a blog entry to an issue that was very important to her. Here’s a portion of what she wrote to me:

“I am heartsick at what is happening, and have decided to email my favorite bloggers in addition to all of my contacts in the hopes of this getting more widespread attention.
There is a woman in Iran who is going to be stoned to death for adultery. She is a widow, and a mother of two, and she has ALREADY BEEN PUNISHED FOR THIS CRIME.”

She wrote some other stuff, too, and none of it mentioned me and Truman Capote in the same sentence. Which, in the end, is probably a good thing.

I was skeptical about this request, not necessarily the authenticity of it, or the passion behind it from the writer of that email to me, but about whether or not I should get involved. After thinking about it for a while, I realized that the only reason I was reluctant to say anything about it was that I felt I would come off looking like an idiot for doing so. And then I thought a little bit more about that, and I realized, “These people have listened to me talk about my obsession with porn and Victoriana and Mercedes Benz sedans from the early 1970s—what more could I possibly do to embarrass myself in front of them—let them know that, not only do I brush my teeth with kid’s toothpaste, but that I injured my finger opening the lid to said toothpaste?

There. It can’t get any worse than that. Right?

The more I thought about the incident described in this email, the more I realized how interested I was in it. Adultery has fascinated me for a long time—not the act, dirty birdies, but the concept of it. It’s the ultimate affront and disgrace to a marriage, the absolute desecration of your holiest vow—not before God, but to your spouse. I told my wife one day, “I would sooner dip my penis in a jar of battery acid than stick it inside another woman’s schnazz.”

Chivalry: it’s what’s for dinner.

Adultery has always been a mystery to me—what drives it, what facilitates it, what perpetuates it, what allows it to happen once, and again, and again, and again. The justifications people make, the lies they tell, the flagrant, offensive, abusive way in which they allow themselves, their spouses, and indeed their lovers to be treated.

I'll be as honest (and mature) with you as a married man whose wife reads his blog every day can be: are there other women out there into whose na-nas I wouldn't mind sticking my hwonk-hwonk? Sure. Am I going to do that? No. Why? Because God or nature or nurture or society or religion or what-have-you has instilled within me a modicum of restraint. Restraint isn't always easy, and it isn't always pretty, but it's there for us human beings to utilize whenever we feel the urge to go smash somebody's collection of little glass animals, or steal a bunch of toasters from homes across rural California.

When I was younger, the only person I ever knew who had cheated on their spouse was my aunt. She used to work in a retail store and she nailed the owner. Nice, huh? She and my uncle reconciled, and had two more “I’m sorry, honey” children.

Good for them.

This act of indecency and indiscretion was spoken about in my parent’s house in hushed, disapproving, disgusted tones. And I thought to myself that my uncle must be the biggest schmuck in the world for taking that alcoholic, adulterous, alliterative asswipe back.

And yet, people do.

I’ve only had one other experience with adultery. A partner of mine at my old ambulance company. Every day, for a long, long time, we sat next to each other in the truck, ran calls, ate our lunches, took care of patients, joked around, made small-talk, listened to the radio, met each other’s wives, sat side-by-side, not one foot away from each other day in and day out. And I knew. And he knew I knew. And we never spoke a word about it. Never. Never ever. And I remember feeling this terrible sense of dread that, following a customary silence in the ambulance that he, or far worse, I might say something. Might dare to say something. I was terrified of those silences; I was so afraid that my mouth could not be trusted. And I’m amazed even still that I got out of that truck every day for so long having protected the secret I knew.

And for what? What was I protecting? A shameful act perpetrated by a desperate man? Was I protecting my glasses and my teeth from an enraged fist? All I was really protecting was the status quo.

And, in remembering this little lesson from my past, I came to the conclusion that, if I stayed silent about this woman in Iran, I would be doing nothing but rising up as just another defender of the status quo. And I can’t afford to be that guy again. Sure, adultery is yucky and selfish and cruel, but it doesn't warrant a sentence of death-- and I don't think that's just ethnocentric Western society morals talking-- though maybe I'm wrong. I guess that's for you to decide.

I’ve done, and certainly said lots of things in my life that I’m not proud of—but much more than that has been the shame and dishonor brought upon me by things I have not said. And there’s been a miserable shitload of those, which is a surprising statement for a man with an impossibly large mouth to make, I admit; but it’s true.

Do I think that my signature or yours on an online petition is going to sway the Iranian government from stoning this poor woman to death, when their regime has carried out countless acts of barbarism and torture on countless others without batting a swarthy eyelash? No, I don’t. But what does that matter? Sometimes we do things not because they are guaranteed to lead to the desired outcome. Look at the Hindenburg. Look at Pickett’s Charge. Look at “Herbie: Fully Loaded.” Look at most attempts at meaningful human connections. Let’s… look at ourselves and count our innumerable failures and foibles and falterings. But let’s not dwell on them. Let’s pick ourselves up and take a stand for something, for someone, whether it matters in the end or not, well, it will matter to you. You’ll feel better about adding your name to that petition, and you’ll feel better about yourself.

Being loud is a hell of a lot better than being quiet. Just ask any lion.


  1. I've never really understood the motivation to commit adultery. Is it purely physical? Is there some psychological need a person is trying to fill? Is it just a basic statement that a person doesn't care about their commitment or their spouse? I have to say that even if I hated my husband with the fire of a thousand suns, I can't imagine sleeping with someone else while still married. But then again, I have OCD and I like things to go in order. Divorce first then dating.

    I'm curious about this particular instance, too. For instance (bear with me), in the Old Testament if a woman was raped and did not scream for help or fight back then she was considered an adulteress if she was married, and could be forced to marry the rapist if she was not married. So...did this woman have an extra-marital affair or was she assaulted or what?

  2. Fan letters?? You too?! Nice job, Mr. Apron.

    PS: I have been the worst blog reader this week, so be prepared for an onslaught of my comments to old posts. Sorry, I've been busy. It's not you, it's me.

  3. A certain douchebag once defended his adultery on a number of levels and persisted that he hadn't reeeeeeally done anything wrong, given the circumstances, when I had him at knifepoint — OK, just begged him, really — to promise me he'd never do that to me. He did promise, but somehow, after his protestations, I didn't feel much better.
    People can be such assholes to each other. But no one deserves to die for it.

    I'll sign my name to that.
    (Also, I might make up a game called "take advantage of every opportunity to talk smack on ex-boyfriend." Wanna play along?)


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