Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Keep those calls and e-mails coming

        Marty doesn't use the Internet.

        “It's a waste of time,” he said in his by now familiar rasp. “Useless.” Then he added — unnecessarily, because he has covered this thoroughly in previous voice-mail messages — “And you are useless, too. And stupid, stupid, stupid.”

        Why, Marty, you little Christmas elf. I was afraid you weren't speaking to me anymore.

        A reader who has been seeking to edify me with — in his opinion — little success, Marty has never revealed his last name and after five years rarely bothers anymore with his first.

        “It's me,” he'll announce, launching into his views on, say, capital punishment (he's for it, except he thinks convicts should be tortured first) and stadiums (“you media people are in cahoots with Mike Brown.”)

Road to riches
               As usual, Marty signs off with a command I lack the anatomical flexibility to perform. This time, he is complaining about something I wrote last week about a Web site for TV junkies. “TV is bad enough,” Marty says, “but the Internet is worse.”

        Well, Marty, this is simply not true.

        About three times a day, I turn on my computer to find an opportunity to “make $ at home.” Are you going to find that on television? I think not. Those FCC spoilsports are always getting between us crafty investors and opportunity.

        Right now, for instance, I am considering a highly confidential and sophisticated deal. I can only tell you it “is not a chain letter.” It is “multi-level marketing” in which I send money to people on an attached list, add my name and the names of my friends to the bottom of the list.

        Mohamed from Cairo reports making $81,000 his first try.

Undeserved credit
               This is not to say, Marty, that all Internet communiques are either commercial or absurd. Or both.

        Every once in a while I'm proud to get a note praising me for something written by Enquirer education columnist Krista Ramsey. I take credit politely.

        And every day, without fail, I receive e-mail — and snail mail and voice mail — that enlightens, amuses and reassures me. Notes from people who are raising money to cure diseases and ease hardship. Advice and criticism from readers.

        Some electronic correspondents attach a quotation or saying to the bottom of their message. My favorite is one from Norm Miller, director of the University of Cincinnati's real estate program, in honor of his daughter, Heather Nicole Miller, who died when she was 12:

        “Dance like there's nobody watching, sing like there's nobody listening, love like you'll never get hurt, and live like there's heaven on earth.”

        I have become friends with a woman named Jean on a remote farm in Indiana. We've never met, probably never will, but she kept me posted during the long, dark days of her mother's illness.

        And allowed me to grieve with her.

        Bob nudges me about homeless people, and Harold about homeless dogs. Joansie sends me jokes. Sally is my cancer connection. Frank tells me to lighten up. Karen tells me to get serious. Elizabeth corrects my grammar.

        As this year ends, I am hoping all of you — even the ones I haven't thanked lately — will keep in touch. I read what you write and listen to what you have to say. All of it. Even from you, Marty.

        Anything else would be stupid, stupid, stupid.

        E-mail Laura at lpulfer@enquirer.com or call (513) 768-8393.


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