These are letters from our intelligent and discerning audience whose keen commentary cried out to be shared with others.
E-mail #1 From Crank:
Pity that such a gifted writer cannot find a more interesting subject. It amazes me that every parent believes that anyone would bother to care about childhood drivel.
I cannot even pretend to care.
I love your writing style, however. If you ever write anything worth reading, please email me.
blissfully childfree by chioice
Thank you for writing. I am sort of curious. Were you aware that you were sending the E-mail above to an actual human being? Do you feel that what you wrote is in any way polite or appropriate? Are you so rude and thoughtless in your everyday life? How fortunate the people around you are.
- Jeff Vogel
E-mail #2 From Crank:
Odd. I thought my email highly complimentary, stating that you are quite gifted and that I loved your writing style.
It is apparent that you have been a victim of parental mind-rot which believes that *anything* your precious child/children do is so utterly incredible that all the universe should hush in profound cosmic awe of your crotchfuit.
Not so. Sorry. Children=boring. Nobody cares. Really, nobody.
Why do you waste your time when you could be writing great, interesting, informative, entertaining stuff?
You really think this is a polite, appropriate thing to send to a stranger? This is your “polite”? Heh.
I see my web site statistics, and I read my fan mail. I know how many people read my articles. A LOT. That is why I’ve done it for 4 years. My time is valuable. I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t popular. (And did you notice that some of it has been turned into a book? And don’t think I didn’t get paid for that.)
And I’ve gotten a number of E-mails from regular readers who were CHILDFREE. Yes. They thought it was both funny and validated their decision to not have kids. So not all the childfree are as insecure and defensive about their choice as you.
Anyway, this is more of my time than I should spend on one Internet crank, so this conversation is pretty much over. Really, I only wrote this to reach out to you, human being to human being, to try to make you see what an obnoxious cretin you come across in E-mail. I’m sure you are a nicer person in real life. But God, how could you not be?
- Jeff Vogel
You know, I validate someone’s decision to not hate kids. I support it. Hell, I ENVY IT. But sometimes not having kids makes you crazier than having them. Sheesh!
Subject: A sad story
I’ve recently discovered your website - damn the fool who sent me here, as if I had enough free time to read all this stuff.
Anyway, I’m moved to write for 2 reasons; firstly, I have to take issue with something you said. Secondly, I need to warn you.
I’ve been reading ‘The Story About The Toddler’. This resonates with me - god how it resonates. I have a daughter about 2 months older than your Cordelia. Alexandria. I’ve been everywhere you’ve been. I empathized. So imagine my horror, when you, a self confessed mediocre parent, wrote this (in chapter 18): ‘All but the worst parents will keep the spasms of impatient rage you drive them to out of your view.’
This upset me. A couple of days before I read it, I totally blew up at wee Alexandria.
In order to understand why this happened, you need to understand our situation. I am for my (obviously multiple) sins a house husband. I still engineer (read ‘hack’) software, at night when the kids are asleep. Do I ever sleep? Well I should, but recently I’ve been reading your website instead. So I’m tired.
Furthermore, when Alex was 18 months old she was the cutest wee sweetheart imaginable. She was a constant source of joy, an irrepressible fountain of loveliness. How could we not want another one of those, we foolishly thought?
So, a year later, our second daughter, Akira, was born. Alex had spent that time industriously transforming herself into a monstrous demon whose tiny size made one constantly underestimate her ability to cause untold misery and woe. That was almost a year ago and she’s not improved much since.
So anyway, picture the scene. Akira, 11 months old, is actually playing by herself on the kitchen floor. Alex is sitting at the table, gluing stuff together. I am happily loading stuff into the dishwasher without having to stop anyone else crawling in along with the dishes, for once.
Alex notices that Akira has touched something that she once touched, maybe the Wednesday before last or something. Even though the item in question is a baby toy and holds no interest whatsoever for Alex unless Akira has hold of it, she gets down from her chair, deprives Akira of her toy, knocks her over in the process and causes the previously placid baby to start crying inconsolably. Well, not inconsolably. But I have to FUCKING STOP WHAT I WAS DOING AND CONSOLE THE BABY.
This happens every day. Many many times. On that occasion, I couldn’t stand it any more. So in a possibly impressive relapse to my own toddler years, I threw a screaming fit that Alex herself would have been proud of. I threw stuff. I kicked stuff. I shouted and slammed doors. I nearly cried. Alex did cry - lots. Now I think about it, you’ve commented that a person who is half your height and a fifth of your weight having a tantrum can be funny. I guess someone twice your height and five times your weight having a tantrum is bloody scary.
Anyway, I’m sure it says in all the baby books that if you want your kids to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ you should say please and thank you to them. I guess the same applies to saying sorry - so once I calmed down I said sorry to Alex and gave her a big hug. She was really conciliatory. She didn’t steal Akira’s toys for several hours. I like to think that this was because she managed to understand some degree of my upset and the fact that she’d caused it. I hate to think she was just frightened...
So what’s the moral? I wanted to convince you I’m not one of the worst parents on the planet. Instead I seem to be convincing myself of the opposite. Damn. Oh well, maybe I’ll be spurred to try harder.
So, the warning. You’ve probably got the gist already. You are considering another child. Maybe you’ve had lots of people tell you how much easier the second child is compared to the first. This is true. This is for two reasons
1. Your first child has been getting more and more difficult since they were born. You have just got over the shock of parenthood slightly faster than they have got more difficult, giving the illusion that things were getting easier. The second child isn’t a shock, so they seem really easy.
2. Having a second child makes the first one much harder than they were before. Having a new baby gives your toddler countless new opportunities to piss you off.
Having said that, Akira is the sweetest thing on the planet. Before she was born I worried that I couldn’t possibly feel as much as I feel for Alex for anyone else. But actually, it turns out I can, and despite the previous sad story, my love for Alex is undiminished.
So go for it :)
PS Hell yes, publish this, I’m a closet exhibitionist
Subject: Scorched Earth Party Campaign Song
I’m not sure if you would remember me, but I used to occasionally post to talk.bizarre and alt.politics.scorched earth in the mid to late 90s.
Through a strange but boring sequence of events, I wrote some lyrics to a Scorched Earth Party campaign song a couple of months ago (I think rone might have sent you email about this). Today I made a recording of those lyrics. I hope that you find it entertaining.
The lyrics are:
When the folks you meet annoy you,
And when the obstacles confront you,
And join the Scorched! Earth! Party!
When we march our way down Main Street, U.S.A.
So join the Scorched! Earth! Party!
Thanks for all the great games!
Subject: Toddlers throwing up
I’ve enjoyed reading your Story About the Baby/Toddler, having experienced the manifold benefits of raising a little boy about the same age as your daughter. Today, however, I read your entry about Cordelia throwing up once from an awful cold.
As the parent of a child whose barfing skills have prepared him for a stellar career as a fraternity rush chairman, food quality/botulism tester, or member of the Kennedy clan, I can honestly say, “I share your pain, but fuck you.”
One barf? Please. My son blows chunks if the weather is too dry for his delicate little throat. I’ve washed more semi-digested food off my shoulder than Linda Blair could produce in a month. I have told people, with all sincerity, that the best purchase I’ve ever made was a carpet steamer.
Subject: better a rainbow than a fountain ...
Stop griping about your Precious Pearl’s plumbing! You have no idea how easy & breezy you’ve got it!
Little girls, such as yours, have everything tucked neatly away “inside”. Little boys, on the other hand, develop full erections FROM THE FIRST DAY YOU BRING THEM HOME, making you, the caregiver and/or possible parent, feel like a Pampers Pre-vert!
Little boys FROM DAY ONE aim their peckers right up at your face during diaper change time and SHOOT YOU in the eye, chin, ear ... wherever they can get!
Much later, when little boys are potty training, they will sit on the toilet and fiddle their little Pinocchio like it’s a dinner bell while looking you dead in the eye with a BIG you-know-what-eating smile on their face.
And don’t even get me started on the grooming and attention a freshly circumcised wink entails ...
Trust me ... you’ve got it GOOD.
Great “column”, by the way. You should really think about shopping it around.
Subject: What we need in America
Dear president Vogel:
America today is a depressing place. Richard Pryor is a vegetable, George Bush is our president and the Olsen twins are still making non Triple X rated movies. America has been turned into a semi homogenous mixture of politically correct morons and burger-fattened sheep, all led by a figurehead of similar intelligence.
America is in need of a shot in the arm. America needs many things. America needs new heroes to write new doctrines on new slabs of Bacon.
My name is David Tubman, and I am a fifteen year old professor at the Newfield U, in the backwater town of Newfield. You may have heard of it from my esteemed colleague, Andy Smith. Yes, Andy and I have compared many notes gleaned from the twisted experiment that is a well funded public school with an alumni of underfunded rednecks. Sitting in this cultural void I have realized what we need to fix this ailing country.
First of all, legalize marijuana replace ritalin with it, and have a less powerful version for recreational uses. Imagine, dime-bags costing an actual dime, and buying them at Wegmans. The commercials would be the most awesome thing ever, except for the Exile series.
Second of all, remove the cruel and unusual punishment restriction from the Constitution, or just have some creatively sick people to interpret it the way our forefathers would have wanted it. Im pretty sure Jefferson meant bagpipe music while being nagged to death by nuns is too cruel and not beating people with a shoe is too cruel. Also, we should adopt an eye for an eye policy towards criminals. If you steal money from your employees, you should be sent to mexico holding a one dollar bill. If you rape someone, you should be raped by a a large, ethnically unidentifiable guy named Bubba. If you set a house on fire, you should be set on fire.
Another thing we need to do is make a computer chip that filters out all commercial placement in the media (except for the wegmans weed commercials everyday, you get their best) and replace them with hardcore porn. This would be excellent. We could save money because less people would be shooting their televisions for displaying the Dell computer guy, and the interns.
Ah yes, those happy schmucks. For the single computer guy, the dude who makes all of us reach for our lead pipes, we should send him to a vietnamese brothel for sexual deviants, and give him every venrial disease known to man, and a few known to chickens. As for the interns, we send them to South Carolina. The walk into a diner to ask for directions. They stumble into a Klan meeting. The two white interns have no choice but to claim not to know the black intern. The black intern gets lynched. Then the two white interns go to Alaska, where they both get swallowed whole by their respective sexs gay bars, never to be seen again. Even Jerry Falwell will get a kick out of that one, square in the kidneys.
Was I getting off the topic? Hell no! Killing those bastards is exactly what America needs. We also need to kill a lot more. To quote Grimbor Call up the blacksmiths, were going to need a lot of pikes to put heads on.. Anybody who says something is bad for me, and thats a reason I shouldnt do it, should die. Anybody who has any assosciation with Disney, should die. Anybody who advocates the Ethical treatment of Rednecks, should die.
And finally, we need to elect Jeff Vogel of the Scorched Earth party as president. I dont mean try every four years, I mean vote for the aforementioned sheep with our shotguns, and do it RIGHT FUCKING NOW! If you let the military do what ever the hell they wanted, they would support us, and further our goals of becoming the ultimate Big Brother. Once your in office, you can appoint me as secretary of social services, and we can start fixing this mess.
Your loyal follower
Burger fattened sheep: But why should we vote Scorched Earth?
Subject: The Story About the BabyJust had to let you know that you rock!
I find your humour completely disturbing and thoroughly entertaining.
My husband and I are discussing having children and when he gets overenthusiastic about having them (and I think this is only because he knows he gets to get laid in order to have one) I just leave a picture of Cordelias Poo Bomb with his work stuff and it brings him back to reality. Its the best child deterrent next to Birkenstocks.
By the way, and Im sure you get this a lot, but Cordelia is absolutely beautiful...and she has a head...and two feet!
On a side note, I think Ani is overrated. I tired of hearing about her rather quickly. I lived in Santa Cruz, CA for 5 years and after every hippy that smells like wet dog and Patchouli telling me how great they think she is, I wanted to run over them in my car several times until there was nothing left of them on the pavement except a small oil spot and a piece of nappy dreadlock.
p.s. please dont post my email address, I do not wanted weirdos like myself making contact with me. I tend toward antisocial behaviour and I like to keep it that way. Thanks!
Subject: Sadly this is true
In reference to Volume 40. My Mom has ALWAYS laughed at me at my times of horrible bodily harm caused by myself. The first time I remember, I was around 3 and I was running so fast I ran into the closed bedroom door which threw me backwards and on my fanny. Now I am 33 and when someone gets hurt, anyone for that matter, I end up laughing hysterically at them. Or even myself. Doesnt make it hurt less but I will say the hurt goes away quicker. This is in instances of causing ones self bodily harm out of stupidity. The female parent used to Spank whatever hurt me also. BAD SIDE WALK BAD. I SWEAR I remember thinking at the tender age of 4 that My mom is a nut. But I think I only cried after that to see what crazy crap she would come up with. We are not so messed up that we laughed when we saw a guy get ejected out his side window of his van cause he made a U-Turn against the light. Instead I said something like, Should have stopped and that wouldnt have happened ass hole. Go figure. (I cant imagine how this would be of enough interest to go on your letters page, but if you are so inclined you can knock yourself out. Let me know so I can laugh.)
Sincerely, Debi Lathrop
PS. You should write a baby book called The only Baby book you will ever need Written by Dad. I do love your writings very much. I havent even made it to the games section yet.