LS: Bruce Cameron Column September 21, 2008

Enjoying reader mail

My favorite e-mail thus far this year was from a reader who wrote, “Dear Bruce, I was reading your column over breakfast today, and I laughed so hard beer came out my nose.”

I had to wonder if this beer-spurting problem occurred only during breakfast, or if she were, in fact, afflicted with (blessed with?) the tendency to spray beer whenever she laughed excessively. Either way, I imagined she was fairly popular in college.

I also received a fair amount of mail asking, essentially, “Remember that column when you and your third-grade friends took the rowboat into the sewer tunnel to try to float across the black lake of water you discovered there? What happened next?” The answer is, of course, that we found a lost city of gold.

The question should actually be “what happened when you and your stupid friends, having hiked about 50 yards into the darkness using only flickering candles for illumination, unexpectedly encountered water in a tunnel designed to fill with water and decided to return with a rowboat?”

The answer is: Rowboats are heavy. We managed to haul the thing out of the garage, but by the time we’d staggered across the lawn to the curb, we decided a city of gold wasn’t worth the effort. My friend, Drake, and
I sat in the rowboat and pretended we’d been aboard the Titanic — not the one with the horrible song but the black-and-white version.

To survive in the rolling seas, Drake pulled out his dad’s fishing rod and cast the lure into the street, hoping to reel in sharks and giant squids that would attack and eat his teenage sister, who was mean to us when she wasn’t on the phone. Then Drake had to use the bathroom, so he raced across the ocean surface and went into the house, leaving me alone in the boat, forlornly holding the rod and watching the lure to see if anything bit.

That’s when my father came home, turning the corner in his green Buick. He slowed down as he approached, frowning at the sight of his son sitting in a rowboat in the neighbors’ yard, fishing for dinner in the street. I suppose it was at that moment that he decided I probably wouldn’t be going to medical school.

One reader wrote me about my column on how drinking 750 bottles of wine a day might prolong your (drunken) life, sternly informing me that a person can’t actually drink 750 bottles of wine a day for more than, say, a couple of hours. I didn’t know this — I never went to med school — but I found his arguments persuasive, especially the part about how my liver would explode, which sounds sort of unpleasant.

So let me make the record clear, here: While it may be true that lab rats given the daily equivalent of 750 bottles of wine lived longer than their sober counterparts and were also more likely to be amused by the “Jackass” movies, I am not actually recommending that any of my readers attempt this at home, especially if they’ve already had a six-pack of beer with their French toast.

I also heard from an angry reader who took exception to my observation that every time I fly on an airplane, I seem to be located in the screaming-baby section. “My baby is well-behaved and would never carry on like you said,” I was huffily informed.

OK, sure. You have a very reasonable baby. Some babies, though, don’t understand when you tell them that it is rude to shriek at certain altitudes. It was those babies I was talking about. Your baby probably just sits quietly, reading a book.

The most e-mail, though, comes from one source — a gentleman who writes me every week to tell me what he thinks of my columns. I appreciate how faithfully he reads my work, but part of me wants to write him back and say, “Come on, isn’t it statistically impossible for every single one of my columns to be below average?”

I wonder what he’ll think of this one.

To write Bruce Cameron, visit his Web site at


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