Dennis Dale's daughter purchased the right for him to post on Slog for a week through our annual holiday auction Strangercrombie, which this year benefited neglected children and the homeless. More info about our charity auction here. The views expressed in Dale's editorials on Slog are his alone and have not been edited based on ideology.
You think a couple whacks to my guts is gonna get me down? It's gonna take a hell of a lot more than that, Counselor, to prove you're better than me!—“Max Cady”, Cape Fear
Can it be that we’re already rounding the horn in our exploration of the ecumenical beyond? Time flies when you're having fun—or being pelted with flung excrement, as they say.
For me the experience brings to mind the closing scene of an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm:
Larry David invests in a restaurant and hires a chef with Tourette’s to run his kitchen-which is open to the dining room floor (he knows better but, seeing the lottery numbers the man’s scrawled on his arm, mistakes him for a Holocaust survivor and feels obligated). It’s opening night and the place is packed; sure enough the chef has an attack, shouting out a string of obscenities and silencing the appalled crowd. Thinking fast, Larry leaps to his feet and starts shouting obscenities himself, as if it’s all a great gag. Gradually others join in until the place is a cacophony of gleeful cursing. As the camera pulls back Larry stands amidst his chaotic handiwork, looking at us with satisfaction.
Yesterday I checked on the comments thread just long enough to read "f— you, Miss Dale.” My pretense of thick-skinned imperturbability bolted like an Afghan hash-head newly recruited into the army and catching his first sight of the Taliban. Not enough training, perhaps. Now I see the advantage of anonymity. This damn ego.
I don't want to be melodramatic (okay, maybe I do), but I fear I may have put a loved one in a difficult spot, socially at least, with my provocations here; my imagination runs wild with images of someone identifying her as the daughter of That Awful Man. Leave her out of it please, she didn't know what was in store—being young she has far better things to do than read my blog. She only knows that I periodically obsess over it and writing, and operates on the naïve assumption that a lifetime without evidence of anything like racial bigotry or misogyny (the desire—most pronounced in men, I believe—to live vicariously through our children, and the shrinking size of the family, has proven a sure cure for that) must mean I’m okay. When she surprised me with this gift, a part of me was terrified.
You see, in day-to-day encounters I might as well be Alan Alda; that’s the assumption people make. Just goes to show you never can tell. That person next to you? Maybe. People don’t walk about with signs around their necks cataloguing their many doubts about the various articles of our secular faith (though the idea no doubt appeals to some of our more energetic commenters here). If that was the case I imagine the experience, for those very few true true-believers, would be sheer terror—something like putting on the special glasses in John Carpenter’s They Live, only everybody is revealed as a monstrous alien.
She’s a good liberal, one of you—vegetarian (mostly), environmentalist, peace-loving, tolerant and open-minded. More importantly she is kind and decent. That’s the daughter I raised, alone and for an extended period under the duress of a long, difficult separation and divorce; if this smacks of pride so be it. If the price of my vanity-driven exhibitionism here (and it is vanity; how I enjoy the attention, any attention, after all) is to cost her so much as a troubled night's sleep—well, you win. But I trust in your decency; the same decency that, paradoxically, leads you into misunderstanding and fury when it comes up against that which offends it. As for me, each laboriously gained certainty unleashes a demon-host of doubts. So I've decided to take the only advantage obscurity affords—the right to speak one's mind. It's liberating. I recommend it, in moderation.
So while I may know where I stand on a given question, I don't know where that places me in relation to my fellows. I'm an atheist who prefers the company of the religious, and a conservative who gravitates toward the liberal. This crazy fucking world.
Other than that, I remain defiant. Needless to say, I won't be looking at the comments on this one. Until tomorrow, friends. The home stretch awaits.