As I’ve noted on several occasions, personal attacks on the Above-Pictured Columnist are most welcome in that every attack results in a significant bonus in my paycheck. Call it hazardous duty pay.
But last week, after I wrote about that now-famous Facebook photo showing a seagull flying around with a Walmart bag on its head, the reaction from one kind reader in the online comments section was so harsh that I’m not sure how management can ever adequately compensate me for my pain.
I do know I’ve now taken to strapping on my dad’s old olive-drab World War II helmet, a bulletproof vest and combat boots before sitting down to type.
Without getting too deep into self-plagiarism, here’s what I said about the poor seagull and its new headgear: “The message here is that our just-passed plastic bag ban is indeed a good thing for wildlife. The only problem with this logic, of course, is that we don’t have a Walmart in Davis. Furthermore, from my many fact-finding expeditions to the Walmart in Woodland, I have determined that no self-respecting Davisite has ever set foot in a Walmart, other than to ask directions. Therefore, our plastic bag ban will do little to mitigate the excruciating problem of sea birds flying around town with Walmart bags on their heads.”
Holy cow, you’d think I had just said something bad about somebody’s mother.
Although I don’t know who it was that posted the comment on The Enterprise website, the author did claim to be responsible for taking the photo in question. Which is news to me, since there are no doubt hundreds of photos out there showing various forms of wildlife with their heads stuck in Doritos bags, mayonnaise jars and empty 40-ounce glass bottles of Pabst Blue Ribbon, all of which should be banned, by the way.
“It is clear to me,” the author writes, “that you are just an old codger.”
Now, in the 44 years I’ve been participating in this daily grind, I’ve been called a number of things, some of them creative and some of them painfully accurate, but this is the first time I’ve been called an “old codger.” It’s a reference that is both ageist and sexist, given that a “codger” can only be male.
It’s also redundant, since a codger is already defined as “old” as well as male. “Codger” alone would have been sufficient to make the point.
Then again, by calling me an “old codger,” maybe the author meant I was an “old, old man,” which would be one count of sexism and two counts of ageism.
I’d like to be able to respond in kind with several stinging insults of my own, but not knowing the age or gender of the author in question, I’m at a distinct disadvantage. Besides, I’m not sure Pope Francis would approve of such a tit-for-tat approach to conflict resolution.
But wait, there are more insults yet to be hurled.
“Hopefully,” the comment goes on, “your children will care more about their impact on the world than you.”
Generally, in the world of give-and-take commentary, bringing one’s children into the argument is considered hitting below the belt, but when you’re talking about sea birds with bags on their heads, anything goes.
Besides, it is clearly not the goal in our family to have the kids grow up to be just like dad. Quite the contrary, it is indeed my fervent prayer they all grow up to be just like mom.
“P.S. — I picked up a black handle bag out of your yard last week.”
So that was you who showed up on the tape from the security camera we have hidden behind the basketball hoop above the garage as you trespassed on someone’s lawn and took an item belonging to someone else.
The “black handle bag” is part of a family Christmas tradition stretching back to the kids’ great grandma in North Dakota.
Every night in December leading up to Christmas, the bag is placed on the front lawn before the kids go to bed. When they check it in the morning, it has mysteriously been filled with small treats such as mandarin oranges, English walnuts and Hershey’s kisses.
But one morning last week, when they ran excitedly out into the frosty air in their pajamas and their slippers, there was no bag to be found. They were so disappointed they almost didn’t finish their Cinnamon Toast Crunch or make it to school.
If you still have the black handle bag, we’d like it back. In the spirit of Christmas, no charges will be filed.
— Reach Bob Dunning at firstname.lastname@example.org