Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Mail

Virtually every week that I fill this space I get some direct response.  A trickle more than a flood, still, almost every column engenders some response from someone somewhere. Politics? "Charlie" and "Sally" like to shoot back a note (not their real names, of course). Technology? That would be "Debra" and "Jon." Music? Good chance I'll hear from "Robert" and "Nigel." And of course, almost every week I hear about the brilliance of my writing from "Mom" (actually, that is her real name).

However, in spite of having filled this space for nigh onto 17 years, I can still never tell in advance what will strike a chord. Musings which I feel strongly about may elicit barely a peep, while others which I think are throwaways draw multiple responses. All I can surmise is that since I try to write about what strikes me, there always seems to be at least one other human being who shares the same experience and finds what I pen to be of interest.

So it was that several weeks ago I wrote an ode to one of my favorite things on the planet, but one which I wasn't sure would make an impression. I'm a person of simple tastes, and so if you missed it, it wasn't about jewels or cars or, as it is for some, Apple. Rather, I urged others to celebrate with me the joy that was March 1, or more to the point, National Peanut Butter Day.

As it turns out, there were many out there who were fellow travelers. To my delight, they thumb-typed or hunt-and-pecked missives proclaiming their like-mindedness. Some offered their own favs: "I love peanut butter, especially the one with the nuts. It is good on green peppers and on celery too. Try it!!" Another: "I have it on a rice cake almost every morning for breakfast. If I wish to ‘splurge' I sometimes add a half teaspoon of blackberry jam." One proclaimed his agreement, though injected a note of ideological purity: "Love it, though I must say the Skippys and Jifs are most definitely the ‘processed cheese product' of the true peanut butter world!" Still another editorialized on my reflection that "Reese's Cups may be the most perfect food on the planet" with the response "THINKS? Seriously, what's there to think about?" And there were even those that went beyond my obsession: "I like chunky too. And try spreading some ON the Reese's peanut butter cup. Truly delish."

But as I said, one can never tell when something strikes someone in a particular way. And so I share with you a complaint I got, tongue firmly in cheek though it may be. With the subject line of "An Outrageous and Unconscionable Omission," it came from a man who has way better things to do than to take me to task. He is a successful businessman, an inventor, a musician, not to mention the winner of a Grammy, an Emmy and a boatload of other awards. I'm also humbled to call him a creative partner and friend for 30 plus years. But none of that mattered in this particular case. I stepped in it, and he let me know it. To whit:

"I am a loyal and devoted Glancing Askance reader, and I believe I have read every one of your splendid commentaries. Splendid, that is, until today. NEVER have I been so outraged and offended by an omission as in today's Peanut Butter column.  Who in the universe of peanut butter lovers would ever have the chutzpah to write 750 words about America's love affair with peanut butter and never mention Elvis???  Just last night I attended a screening party, and front-and-center on the dinner menu was peanut butter and banana sandwiches on white bread, with or without bacon. I opted for the bacon. Elvis' impact on peanut butter is still very much alive.  I strongly urge that in your next column you issue a ‘Correction' and give proper homage to The King."

Sir, consider me chastised. The publication cycle has pushed this apology back, but it is sincere none the less. I can only say that I'm glad my writings affected you so deeply, and thank you for setting me straight. My only wish going forward is that I am able to bring the same passion out of others on topics from Iran to nuclear power as peanut butter did for you. In the meantime, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. And long live the King and his sandwiches.


Marc Wollin of Bedford loves hearing from readers. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at

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