DEAR SEAN: A friend of mine introduced me to your writing. I’ve only read a little, but as a retired copy editor, and author of two books, I think you could use some work.
You write about life. Well, I was married twenty-four years… My husband had an affair with a much younger woman. I know a little about the pain of life.
I’ve never lived on my own before, I’m in my late-fifties, I’ve raised two kids, and I’m all alone this year.
Your brand of goody-goody writing represents what’s wrong with this country. I’m sorry to be so blunt, your intentions are probably pure, but you’re still too ostensibly young to know how hard life is, honey. People don’t need more lovey-dovey ignorance crap. Sometimes it’s healthy to embrace anger.
Sincerely, JUST BEING REAL
DEAR REAL: I’ve always wanted to do the Dear Abby thing, so thanks for signing your letter that way. Also: I won’t lie, I had to look up “ostensibly” in the dictionary.
I appreciate your honesty. Allow me to return the favor.
You’re right about me. I don’t know how hard life is. My father shot himself with a rifle the day he got out of jail. My mother locked herself in her room and cried for years. My family eroded. I was twelve.
I don’t want to talk much about it. It’s ostensibly difficult.
I hope I used that word right.
What I can tell you is that we lived on a farm. The day Daddy passed, adult-chores fell to adolescent-me. So did the laundry. I was angry. Not just with my father, but with my peers, for having easy lives.
Eventually, we lost the farm. We lost lots of things—that’s what happens to poor folks.
Mama cleaned condos, I swung hammers. We delivered newspapers, laid sod, painted houses. We got good at hocking things. Once, I even took a job digging a drainage ditch with a Venezuelan man named Salvador. I slept in his van for three days.
It was actually a nice van—with a kitchenette.
The things you’ll do for rent.
So you’re right. I don’t know what it’s like to have a husband walk out. In fact, I don’t know half the things you do. I’ve never claimed to be the sharpest hammer in the bag.
Here’s what I know:
I know life comes bundled in ugly wrapping paper. I’m sorry, that’s just how it is, ma’am. We can either get angry—God knows we deserve that much. Or we can tear open the hideous package and see the gift inside.
I guess what I really mean to say is: I’m sorry he hurt you. In fact, it breaks my damn heart, darling.