The first thing I need to say is that Boots and Sparkle are not strippers.
Let me explain.
When I first thought about writing this blog, I wanted the stories to be real. With real stories come real people; people in my family, my friends, co-workers and women that I have dated (or tried to date). With real stories and real people come real names, and I wondered if that was going to be a problem.
I also gave myself some ground rules, and the first one was that I was not going to write about why I got divorced. I will talk about my ex-wife (because I pay good money for her to be an ex-wife), but not about how she became my ex-wife. Enough people already know what happened; my kids don't need to be part of that group. Besides, Arlene (ex-wife) is one of the few people who can truly laugh at herself, she has a unique sense of humor (she married me, didn't she?).
My kids are my kids, and I will use their real names, but I will not do anything to embarrass them. Besides, I think they are excited about this. I know Amanda and Danny are -- Alexander, I'm not so sure. I still haven't figured out his short-hand language of grunts and shrugs. Either he's excited about this or he doesn't really care or the cat has used the microwave and refuses to clean up after itself. It's hard to tell what he's saying.
When I told two friends about the blog, the first thing they said was, "Don't use my name!" One then added, "I don't know why anyone would put their life out on the Internet." (We'll come back to this in a minute). This attitude was in direct contrast to my friend Tammy, who not only allows me to use her name, but wouldn't mind if I posted her picture, address, phone number and what nights she's available to go out dancing.
One of my friends I will call Boots. I'll call her Boots because we had a date many years ago and as we walked through New York City she complained that her feet hurt. Turned out her boots were too small. To this day I tell myself that was the reason we never had a second date (yes, that was the reason, let's move on).
The other friend's blog name took a little more work. First it was going to be Glimmer, but that turned out to be a character from The Hunger Games. Next it was going to be Glitter, but that was the name of a Mariah Carey movie from 2001. Finally, we settled on Sparkle and, even though that is also a movie title, I liked the way it sounded, so it stayed. She is still lobbying for a different name, but I'm sticking with this. Although, never call her Sparkles to her face, because that does sound like a stripper's name, and we don't want to get Sparkle angry.
I thought Sparkle's comment about not putting one's life out on the Internet was a little bit paranoid. But then something happened. My blog was picked up by The Huffington Post and one particular post was picked up by AOL's website. Now my blog was being read by people who had no idea who I was or who the people in the posts were. I guess by putting the blog out there I was inviting comments and apparently many people felt it would be rude not to accept.
The post that was picked up by AOL was about my daughter's graduation from NYU, and what happened to us on the way to her luncheon in Jersey City (see my blog post "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" for more on that adventure).
Some said it was funny. Thank you.
Some were constructive, like the one complaining that I slipped from past to present tense. I write the way I talk, so I need to be aware of this problem. I will watched out for this from now on.
There were those who found it long and boring. I can't help if readers found it boring, but long? It was less than twelve hundred words. I think the people who found it long are the same people who need Cliff Notes to decipher their friend's Facebook status.
On the AOL website my blog was accompanied by a photograph of myself, the kids and my ex-wife standing on a pier with New York City as our backdrop. One reader posted our exact location even though the restaurant we were at wasn't in the photograph. That was a little disturbing.
Speaking of the restaurant, one commentator had concern for my daughter's luncheon, saying she could not have had enjoyed it and that it was ruined by her "messed up family." Well, we had a wonderful time. As for the "messed up family," my daughter has graduated from NYU; my two sons are doing very well in their respective universities; and my ex-wife and I get along better than most married people I know. So I appreciate your concern, but we're doing fine.
Then there were those people who hated me. To comfort my hurt feelings Sparkle said, "Only people who know you hate you, Al. Those people just think they hate you."
Again, I understand I invited this when I posted the story online, but the visceral comments took me by surprise. I was psychoanalyzed and found wanting. I was told I was rude and an egomaniac. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, to their criticisms, so let me offer mine to those who disliked me so much.
Push yourself away from the keyboard and come up from your parent's basement. Maybe your Mom will make you a nice cup of cocoa. Then instead of going back down into your cocoon, step outside and have a look around. With any luck, you'll run into Boots and Sparkle. They are awesome.