Last Wednesday as I was getting my day started checking business emails at a Hampton Inn in my old college town of Oxford, I got a call from my younger daughter Katie. Often as she’s on her way to work, my baby girl will call to tell me something cute about my little grands, 6-year-old Caroline and 4-year-old Abigail, or share some other Columbus-area newsworthy tidbits.
The call showed a side of my Katie not often seen. Basically, since birth, she’s been about as adept as anyone you’re likely to find slipping life’s punches. This time, though, she was mad — as in spittin’, fit-to-be-tied, mad-as-a-wet-hen angry.
As many mid-30s, Katie and Facebook are very close friends, unlike her dear old mid-60s dad. While I do have an account, thanks to either older daughter Shannon or Katie, who decided Dad needed to at least attempt to join the 21st century some years ago, beyond doing that Facebook make-a-noun-into-a-verb “friending” thing with people I know who feel having me as a virtual friend will somehow enrich their lives, I’m pretty much Facebook illiterate.
Anyway, getting back to the angry baby, I’ll tell you Katie was fuming when she saw one of my fellow columnists and editors, Tom Lucente, post what she perceived to be critical commentary about my column on the lost art of letter writing. She was so angry that she told me she fired back at Tom and, basically, told him what he could do with his opinions.
In his post, Mr. Lucente said while editing the column he took issue with my associating Alexander Graham Bell with the telephone rather than one of Tom’s Italian mates, Antonio Meucci, who somehow lost the directions to the patent office that the plucky Scotsman, Bell, managed to locate first.
Lucente, ever the factual/semantic micromanager, true to his contrarian-libertarian roots, also took issue with my referring to the Civil War as such, rather than calling the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history The War for Southern Independence, and also my referring to The First Battle of Bull Run as such instead of using the name used by Confederates, First Manassas (or was it Molasses, Tom? I forget).
Of course, since I don’t start my days with FB as so many do, I had to take Katie’s version of the mean-spirited nature of an ogre that surely was trying to devour what little credibility I still have left, at least until I got home that night to check the post for myself.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t just check what Tom said on the iPad that I use for business in my hotel room, the answer is twofold. First, the Hampton has, in the opinion of this occasional traveler, about the best oatmeal in the entire hotel universe, really, the perfect consistency, and is also accompanied by some pretty tasty complements (almond slivers, blueberries and such), and I was anxious to get to it. And, second, using the iPad would have necessitated a skill almost nonexistent in my bag of tech tricks, remembering a user name and password.
Amidst the countless ones I’ve been forced to create over time, for me, they’re as easily forgotten as they are created. Either I think I’ll remember them and not write them down, or I’ll write them down on slips of paper left un-safeguarded and later unfound, or I’ll forget to reset them and they’ll deactivate over time.
So, after calming Katie down and convincing her that violence is sometimes, but not always, the answer, I had my oatmeal, packed my grip and checked out and went about my daily paces, returning home in the early evening.
After unpacking, I checked my home email and the several “you’ve-been-tagged” comments from those who wanted to weigh in on this Tom-and-Katie contentiousness in the scroll, including, of course, Lucente’s initial post.
Tom’s post turned out to be pure stir-it-up Lucente, which has prompted so many to react to his columns with such outrage lo these many years, questioning both his intelligence and, at times, his sanity.
While Katie, not knowing Tom, missed the tongue-in-cheek nature of the post, I certainly caught it and went about, for me, the very rare act of actually posting something as a means to let Tom off the hook. Really, I couldn’t stand the thought of Tom’s having to look over his shoulder for the rest of his days anticipating an ambush from my kid!
For me, the takeaway was just about as sweet as it gets, and that is the baby girl I raised into the wonderful Gen X wife and mom I think she is, that very same little once-upon-a-time pig-tailed pixie I vowed to defend and protect in perpetuity, would herself go into battle to defend her dad when one of the animals in the forest appeared to be nipping at his hind quarters.
Not to worry, Tom, I’ve smoothed things over with Katie and think you’re pretty safe. Good thing for you too. She was training Caroline and Abigail, both pretty low to the ground at this stage, in the fundamentals of ground attacks!
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.