Friday, September 25, 2009

High Praise For A Straight Guy

Every now and then someone says something nice about me, and I take their words and tuck them away in a very private place. Yesterday I was sent an e-mail that really struck a cord with me, so today I'm going to unabashedly reprint that letter, but first a little background...

I did some creative writing this past winter for a company called Gently Spoken in Minnesota. They create and market a line of 'more than cards/less than books', among other things, that are unique and splendidly thoughtful. Their cards (etc.) are ideal for people who struggle to articulate their feelings in words, but have the wherewithall to know that kind thoughts matter greatly. These card sending customers are empowered to acknowledge their love and appreciation of others in a manner that goes beyond traditional channels (i.e. those that smell of Hallmark). Gently Spoken is authentic and has a wonderful story that accompanies its brand. I'm delighted to share my thoughts and words with them, and I'm happy to share their words with you.

Here's the letter that the owner of the company sent me...


Thank you for your kind and thoughtful words. You are, indeed, a masterful wordsmith. Do you know how talented you are? Torrie, my assistant, says you are the most emotionally expressive straight guy she's ever seen (read). As Salutarian and recent graduate of a private and esteemed women's college (who loves literature and nearly always has a book in her hand), I thought her comment was quite a compliment and worth mentioning. Have you ever thought of teaching classes on being emotionally sensitive? Women would love it and men need it.

It truly was a pleasure to work with you on the Just gotta tell, Ian. If the market responds as we hope it will, we'll have more projects

With gratitude,


What a great, and generous, letter. I did have to chuckle at the idea of me (??) teaching classes on being emotionally sensitive. I've always considered myself to be emotionally detached, or at least in control. Remember, I claim to be half Vulcan. I'm not, of course, but it's a mask that I like to wear. In fact, I care deeply, I just don't always know how to say it, so I write.

I gave up watching television over four years ago because I was becoming desensitized to the plight of others. Every night I would watch the news and I found, over time, that I'd barely bat an eye at the tragedies that were unfolding before my eyes (wars, famine, accidents, Rex Murphy's hair, etc.). I was becoming numb, so off went the television. I suppose my fatwa on television really said that I do care, that I had emotions, though it felt like I had none. Life is full of contrast, and that's what makes it interesting. Can you have love without hate? Or can hot exist without cold? Can detachment live without emotion? Can either Mulroney (dad or spawn) exist without Mother Teresa?

Philosophers, start your engines!

So what are my qualifications for teaching sensitivity classes? Well, I used to be into boxing and I worked as a doorman at the Chestnut tavern in Fredericton. I'm reticent to call my former self a bouncer, because I chose to negotiate with drunks, rather than hog tie them like some of my bouncier colleagues. I remember one bouncer, Mike Johnson, a mountain of a lad. He used to pick people up in some sort of wrestling move (was it a full Nelson?) and carry them out with their feet dangling in the air. Me? I used the spoken word...

"I'm sorry my hopelessly drunk and beligerant friend, but you're going to have to depart from this beloved palace of swill."

"I ain't goin' f___ing nowhere."

"Your mom just called and she said there's Nascar and Wrestling on TV right now, if you hurry home."


"Yup, I just spoke to her. She also said there's six beer in the fridge and a pizza on the way."

Slam!! (the sound of the Chestnut door being shut behind a drunk).

One night a particularly wild drinker/fighter, known to all doormen in Fredericton, tried to take on the entire door staff at the Chestnut (not a good idea). Rumour has it that his leg was broken in the door as he was trying to re-enter the building and start a war. I was busy at the time telling white lies to other patrons...

"Your old girlfriend just called and she's sorry that she broke up with you. She's at your place right now and she's feeling lonely. You'd better hurry."

Those were the old days. Now I practice yoga and eat yellow zucchinis. Maybe I have changed? Maybe I am emotionally sensitive? Maybe I am the most emotionally sensitive straight guy who's writing.

Gay writers beware! There's a straight guy who's invading your turf. He's going to take over your genre. He's not going to be knocking at your back door, he's going to kick the front door in, then redecorate your world with words that are straight from the heart.

Oh...who am I kidding? I could never teach sensitivity classes, just the thought of it makes me all weepy.

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