Thanks to ‘Lite’ book,
it’s a sad, sad, sad,
It seemed like a simple enough idea. In a column last week, I promised to send an autographed copy of one of the few remaining copies of my literary curiosity "Hey Tourist! Buy This Book!" to the reader who could tell me the saddest story. The idea was that a person would have to be slogging through some pretty sad times for their burden to be lifted by my ill-conceived tome.
The e-mails poured in from as far away as Orlando, Fla., where "Honolulu Lite" online apparently competes with Disney World as riveting diversion. But the weird thing is, I didn't get many sad stories. What I got were threats (usually mayonnaise-related), begging, bribes and misguided attempts at flattery. I received several that started off like, "I don't read your column much because I don't buy the Star-Bulletin, but when I do see it, it doesn't make me vomit, so how about sending me a free book?"
Yeah, that'll work.
I'm sure that Cathy Yuen, of Honolulu, didn't mean it as an insult when she revealed her sad story, that she suffers from insomnia. On reflection, she might have realized that telling a writer you'd like a free copy of his book because you have trouble falling asleep isn't the most enchanting way to go.
D.W. Younker, of St. Cloud, Minn., lost a few points in relating the story of how his son and daughter-in-law were "stuck" in Maui for four days after planes were grounded due to the 9/11 attack. They "finally got home only by luck," he said. No, sir, it is lucky to be ON Maui. It is unlucky to have to leave. And Maui is never a place where you are "stuck."
Mark Jones, of the aforementioned Orlando, conceded he had no sad story but made one up anyway about his dog dying and wife leaving him, or wife dying and dog leaving him, or something. I was quite hypothetically sad.
MY HATRED OF mayo brought out the worst in some readers. One ordered me to send him a book or he would form the I Love Mayo Society. Another bragged that she had bought a book on the history of mayo (complete with many gross recipes) for 25 cents at a church bazaar, and if I didn't send her a book, she'd send me hers.
Catherine Chinn is saddened that her husband has retired and now watches FOX and CNN all day long. My book would relieve her boredom. She was getting to me until this line: "You also say nothing in most of your articles. But while reading, I often have a few chuckles." Catherine, you charmer, you.
I wish I had enough books to send everyone, but I am down to my last few. So after agonizing over the entries, I chose Jim Bryan's tale of woe as the winner. Jim bravely identifies himself as a "Hollywood screenwriter." Having dabbled in the dark art myself, I can assure you there are no more pitiful creatures than screenwriters.
Jim promised to turn "Hey Tourist! Buy This Book!" into a screenplay that would replicate the book's dazzling failure on a truly horrifying new level.
"Just think of how many careers would come to an end," he beamed. "It boggles the mind to think what we could do to Hollywood together!"
Jim, the sheer sadness of the proposed enterprise causes me to weep as I type. You win.
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Charles Memminger, winner of National Society of Newspaper Columnists awards, appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. E-mail email@example.com