Several times over the last few weeks both Jon and I have spoken to a local reporter for a story that was going to run in the Salt Lake Tribune, one that would commemorate the anniversary of placing graphic ads on this website. We have been a little wary when speaking to local reporters before this because we were never sure how we’d be portrayed to an audience that is largely Mormon and conservative, and I have an inbox full of email from that exact demographic to suggest that they consider my very existence to be the perfect example of why it should be legal to execute people by firing squad. And those are just the emails from my Dad.
The Salt Lake Tribune is commonly regarded as the more liberal of the two papers that serve the area, which means that when it endorsed George Bush in the 2004 Presidential election it did so a little less vigorously than the other paper. We weren’t concerned so much with whether or not the reporter would be fair as much as whether the computers at his office would block my website because of all the LIBERAL PROPAGANDA, including the frequent photos I post of nude gay men reading Noam Chomsky.
So Jon and I discussed it for hours, and he agreed to talk to the reporter as long as I understood that there would be repercussions. Like? Like I wouldn’t be allowed to write about the neighbor who walks outside in his underwear to retrieve the morning paper anymore. But I hadn’t ever written about the neighbor who pops outside in his underwear every morning, hadn’t ever planned to but now that he brought it up how could I remain silent? The neighbor. He wears large white briefs. And now he knows that I know.
The reporter, Matt Canham, initially met up with us at a local coffee shop where we talked for almost two hours about what it is we do here at the Blurbodoocery. Like many people Matt suspected that our work-from-home set-up was just a front for the meth lab we run in the basement because there is no way a damn blog could make enough money to buy outfits like this one. People, I know it is hard to believe, but not only did my blog make enough money to buy Jon a pair of rubber clogs, it also made enough money to pay for the five hours of professional therapy I needed as a result.
Matt turned out to be a lovely person, a barbaric and depraved heathen with interests very similar to our own, like spending our Sunday afternoons sitting on the roof of a church building and dropping empty beer cans on people’s heads as they walk in and out. I felt very comfortable talking to him, probably too comfortable, and I gave him a detailed history about this website, about my family and their evolving relationship with this website. The day after the initial interview he sent us an email that said, “I was wondering if you could put me in contact with Heather’s dad or mom, or maybe both.” Which in English translates to, “I was wondering if you could hand me a loaded gun and then let me aim it at Heather’s head.”
I spent a few hours trying to come up with various excuses as to why my parents would be unable to speak with him:
1. My parents actually don’t exist. I made them up.
2. My parents were both born without mouths.
3. They are busy studying the scriptures and have no time to talk to infidels.
That afternoon I called my father and told him what was going on, that Jon and I were giving an interview to the Salt Lake Tribune and the reporter wanted to talk to him for a few minutes, would that be okay? My father’s exact response was, “Are you really stupid enough to put your future into my hands? I could tell him everything.” I asked him to have mercy, and please don’t talk about the time I set up the video recorder and lip-synced Michael Damian into the skinny end of a baseball bat.
The story ran this past Saturday, and although Matt had said it was going to be a big story, I wasn’t prepared to walk out to the driveway that morning and find my face staring back up at me from the pavement. The story was huge, the biggest thing on the front page, and inside it covered over a page and a half. I ran back inside, threw open the paper on the bed, and Jon and I stared down at these words in the second paragraph:
He runs the washcloth between her shoulder blades and then quickly circles around to rub her breasts.
Hello, Mormons! How about some breasts with your morning prayers?
Matt was paraphrasing this entry I had written during the few days we had talked to him, and you might notice that not once did I ever use the term breasts in reference to my own. And this is the only complaint I have about the article which as a whole is the fairest, most level-headed piece of journalism ever written about me — he didn’t try to push an opinion about whether I was a self-absorbed egotist or an insignificant mommyblogger or an incredibly juvenile nitwit, although you only have to read one sentence of this website and you’d be convinced of all three.
My complaint is that when you take some of the things I write out of context they make me sound as if I am perpetually running up and down the street in the nude waving my tattooed middle finger at innocent old ladies who are cross-stitching passages of scripture as they sit in their wheelchairs on the porch. And that is so not true. I only do that on the weekends.
There are several things I love about the article, and my favorite part has to be this photo of Chuck balancing the TiVo remote on his head which the photographer managed to capture in the couple hours he spent in our living room. They could have just published that photo without any accompanying text and it would have summed up our lives perfectly.
The other thing I love is that Matt got my mother to reveal certain things that I never would have known were it not for this article, namely that she now speaks at church about how parents can maintain relationships with children who have left the faith. I had no idea she did this, and although I know how far she has come in terms of accepting the choices I have made for myself, it was strange for me to read it. It was the one sentence that made me stop, go back and make sure that my eyes were working. That I talk to both of my parents now about what I do here, that they are proud of my work, that I can make my father laugh when I publicly joke about his habit of using coupons to buy things that are already on sale, these are the things that mark my success. I am so lucky that they have been willing to work with me on our relationship.
Since the article ran I have received exactly what I thought I would receive in terms of Mormon hatemail, a lot of it admonishing me to repent, one even calling me a Daughter of Satan. I printed that one out and am now using it as a bookmark for my Book of Mormon. But Jon and I had prepared ourselves for that because we know some people are very sensitive about religion and have no sense of humor about it whatsoever. Although, you have to be a pretty irritable curmudgeon in order to keep a straight face when confronted with a book at the grocery store whose title suggests that the Lord is a premature ejaculator.
What we hadn’t prepared for, however, was stepping outside Saturday morning to let the dog out and having one of our neighbors wave from his front door and ask, “Hey, Jon! Have you groped your wife this morning?” The repercussions indeed.