Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My Boogers and Farts Got Censored. But Not My Underpants.

I was recently asked if I'd be willing to submit myself to the grueling ordeal of answering 5 questions for a regular weekly newspaper column called...
Are you ready?

5 Questions!

Of course, I was delighted to have the opportunity to expose myself (figuratively) to the many thousands of people who read the New Hampshire Sunday News. 

Nancy, the reporter who writes the column, further delighted me by letting me know that she had actually read about the tattoo contest I'm running here on my blog. While she wasn't actually ready to have me inked into her skin permanently, she did tell me that an ex-boyfriend of hers has a tattoo of her, complete with horns, tail, and––most alarmingly–skis. I am still waiting for someone to get a Marty Kelley tattoo, but I have faith that it will happen some day. If not, I'll check in with Nancy's ex.

Nancy went on delighting me by sending me 5 questions which went far beyond the normal "Where do you get your ideas?" sort of interrogation that I am frequently subjected to. She wanted to get to the very heart of what I do. She understood the essence of my work. The first 4 questions were fine and entertaining and well thought out, but it was question 5 that really got me.

"Why do kids find boogers so funny?"

 I've spent years picking my nose, searching for an answer to this question, waiting and waiting for some brave soul to ask. I was ready. I answered:

"It’s not just kids. I still think boogers are hilarious. I’m also a huge fan of farts and underpants. I think for kids, they get a sort of subversive thrill out of reading about things that are generally not mentioned in polite conversation. I have run into lots of people who frown on this idea of employing crude humor in children’s books. The fact is, kids love it. The books are for the kids. If they love it, they will read it. Everyone needs to read and if all it takes is a booger to get a kid to enjoy reading, I’m happy to oblige.
And, really, let’s face it; boogers are funny."

I'm sure you'll agree that I was absolutely brilliant there. Well thought out, eloquent, intelligent, and crammed with gratuitous uses of the word "booger".

I sent it off to her, she thanked me, and we both went about our business, satisfied with a job well done.

Several weeks later, I actually saw the article, thanks to alert parents who regularly scan the police blotter looking for any mention of me. I glanced at the article and realized immediately that something was wrong.

No, it's not the picture. that's what I really look like, smart-guy. Look at the last question.

Do you see a problem?
No. Not the weird punctuation around the words crude humor in the question.
The boogers?
Where are the boogers?
One measly booger? Where are the farts?

And why in the world did they change my sentence to read, "I'm also a huge fan of underpants."? Without the booger/fart context, it makes me look like some kind of weirdo who gets his jollies with undies. Like I have a collection of underpants or some strange fascination with boxers or something.

I mentioned this to Nancy in an email and she explained that it was her editor's heavy hand that made me look like an underpants freak, not hers. The NH Sunday News is known for having a rather strong right-wing bias, but I strongly suspect that Republicans wear underpants, too. Sensible, navy blue ones, no doubt.

If I ever do find out who her editor is, I'll march right into his office and tell him a thing or two.

As soon as I finish arranging, dusting, and waxing my underpants collection.

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