Over the years, there have been a few unfortunate times when everyone didn't get the memo that I write a humor column.
Instead, the column is taken seriously, which can cause some very hard feelings and angry "and-your-little-dog-too," type reader responses.
My standard reply to the more vitriolic mail used to be "Dear Irritated Reader: I write a humor column in the same manner as the late Dave Barry's, except I get paid a lot less and I rarely write about boogers. Oh, and he's not really dead. I was just messin' wid ya."
I would never imply that these overreacting readers are humor-impaired; rather, I believe that they are stupid.
No! Kidding! What I meant to say was that they are, by and large, very earnest but misguided folks who probably believed Barry when he wrote that aliens lived in his undershorts.
"It must be so uncomfortable!" I imagine someone writing him. "Does he look like Alf? I like spaghetti!"
All this is to say that sometimes the most aggressive mail comes from the most innocent of columns. A few weeks ago, I wrote about Requip, the drug for restless leg syndrome (People, it is REAL, just as real as the alien living in Dave Barry's underpants! Kidding again!!) and how one of the drug's reported side effects is compulsive gambling.
How weird and funny is that?
Not very, according to the dozens of RLS sufferers who wrote to say it's a real disease. The only problem was, I never said it wasn't. So imagine my shock when more than a few wrote to say that it was their fervent hope that I get the disease myself, and soon. Whoa. I am shaking in my shoes!
"I hope you get Restless Leg Syndrome in spades!" wrote one outraged reader.
OK, but I sure hope it's a pair of kings cuz I'm splitting 'em and doubling down on this bad boy. Hit me!
I even heard from both people who actually live in Wyoming.
A writer in Upstate New York was disappointed in my "lack of journalistic ethics." Yeah, me too. Whatever that is.
"I can't believe that a responsible journalist would write such a demeaning editorial," wrote a Florida reader.
OK, so (A) I'm not a responsible journalist so quit calling me names; I write pee jokes, for heaven's sake; and (B) I can't write editorials because that would require me to actually learn about Important World Issues which would definitely eat into the time I have to do stuff that really matters, like watching "Scott Baio is 45 and Unmarried" on VH1.