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Sticks and stones may break my bones

Meredith Carroll
Aspen CO, Colorado

The 2008 Pulitzer Prizes won’t be announced until April 7, but unfortunately I already know that I am not among the winners.

Despite Cynthia Tucker’s stunning upset over me last year (for what the Pulitzer Board called her “courageous, clear-headed columns that evince a strong sense of morality and persuasive knowledge of the community” in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Blah blah blah blah blah.), I was all set to hold my head up high and vie again this year in the Distinguished Commentary category. But alas, the Pulitzer organization inexplicably failed to notify me of the deadline, which passed nearly two months ago.

The situation is frustrating, to put it mildly. Not for me, of course, as the money and prestige that accompany the award have no bearing on why I write my heart out for the world to read each week. No, it’s just so disappointing for the followers of this column whose support and praise for my artful expressions continues to pour in like a stick of butter on corn flakes. I don’t want to brag, but if the accolades of my devotees are any indication, I would have been a shoo-in.



Take, for instance, the high praise I received from an enthusiast of my “I’m rubber, you’re glue” column (April 14, 2007): “Your articles are marginally better than one would be led to believe by the peanut gallery comments.”

Another fan offered some kind feedback after I wrote “Vote Goldie for Aspen mayor” (April 28, 2007): “Why is this in the newspaper? Why is this person given space to spew this crap? Is the Times that hard up for copy? … Enough already … Can we start running something from someone who has anything relevant to say?




My Sept. 15, 2007, column (“Hooky on the High Holidays”) prompted one Meredith Pro Tem aficionado to encourage me to rise to even greater heights, to soar like an eagle until I reach the moon and stars, saying, “New Rule for the New Year. No writing columns without a point … Even you can do better.” On the same piece, another supporter offered invaluable religious guidance: “Do not go anywhere without your Rabbi.”

Some of my most popular columns are written about my husband, Rick. Like “A pair mismatched in heaven” (Sept. 29, 2007), the heartfelt sentiment of which inspired one admirer to suggest, “[He] should present you with several dozen rolls of double-quilted, extra-absorbent Charmin.” The same column prompted genuine concern from yet another booster, who inquired about the quality of my auditory range: “Do you hear the sound of the ocean a lot, when you’re walking into a breeze?”

Often times my writing moves readers to become politically active. Like the reader who recommended, “Retroactive abortions should be legal” after I wrote “There is no perfect gift for Dad” (Sept. 22, 2007). Another fan chimed in, saying helpfully, “Maybe just absenting your put-upon self from [your dad’s] birthday celebration would be enough gift this year.”

Few things are as satisfying as knowing I’ve brightened the day of my readers by giving them reason to smile. Like the one who wrote in response to “Some new traditions for a new house” (Nov. 17, 2007): “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Yes, there are apparently still issues. Thank you so much for sharing yours. Looking forward to your being away.”

One groupie commended me after I wrote “Tinseltown … and the next president” (Dec. 1, 2007). He or she clearly beamed when responding, “You have set a new benchmark in empty-noggin twithood [sic]. Congratulations, I guess.” Another reader enjoyed the piece, too, but at the same time cried out for help, asking, “Can someone say V – A – P – I – D?”

It’s always flattering when people assume my physical beauty must be extraordinary because I craft words that glide so gracefully across the page. Like the admirer who tried to guess my age after reading, “Who really is suffering on this diet?” (Jan. 26, 2008), asking, “How old are you people … 30????”

Of my Nov. 3, 2007, column, “It’s the tragically (and aged-ly) hip,” one of my hangers-on glowed it was “tactless and tediously petulant.” Another well-wisher reacted to the same piece by saying, “That’s ok what she wrote because will [sic] look in the mirror one day and realize that time does not stop for anyone.” And yet another sweetly warned, “God will punish you.”

Rush Limbaugh even joined my legion of fans this past year. After reading my “How baby names reveal cultural trends” column on Dec. 15, 2007, El Rushbo spent the first four minutes and 24 seconds of his Dec. 18 show discussing my writing.

Apparently I confounded him with my extensive wisdom, prompting him to scratch his head and wonder aloud, “Now, I read this and thought: What is it that [she] know[s] that I don’t know?” And, like the scores of requests I’m rarely, if ever, able to honor but receive daily from well-wishers hoping for just a few minutes of face time, Rush even lamented that he “didn’t meet this babe that wrote this.”

And sometimes my columns move readers so much they’re rendered speechless. Like after I wrote “Honesty ” it’s such a lonely word” (Feb. 16, 2008) one loyal fan responded by simply writing, “BLINK.”

Oh well. There’s always next year.