Despite the tremendous craftsmanship of my column, Meredith Pro Tem, for years the Pulitzer Prize board has routinely and savagely declined to offer it any recognition. But after The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson took home the 2009 Pulitzer for Distinguished Commentary — “for his eloquent columns on the 2008 presidential campaign that focus on the election of the first African-American president, showcasing graceful writing and grasp of the larger historical picture,” blah, blah, blah — a march, fast, boycott, sit-in and Facebook page were organized by my vast following to revolt against the brutality of yet another loss.
And while I’ve bravely, nobly and humbly moved on from what’s become the annual callous and cruel Pulitzer snub, clearly my unwavering and enormous fan base will not rest until my unparalleled artistry is recognized at the highest possible level.
Meredith Pro Tem Fan Club President Jeff B. e-mailed me to express his staunch support not just of my column, “Don’t call it a comeback,” but also of another legendary talent, Barbra Streisand.
“I sure hope you inform your reader(s) that you were joking, or trying to, when you mentioned Ms. Streisand having sent [Brett] Favre a Hallmark card,” he said warmly. “Barbra Streisand does not send Hallmark cards, nor does she have the ‘laughing all the way to the bank’ attitude, nor did her TV special in April on CBS do ‘dismal’ in the ratings.”
Jeff went on to further express his unbridled zeal for my gifts: “I suggest you either retract those idiotic statements that you may think pass for journalism or I will leave a comment with your article that you are simply a liar and a pretend author.”
It’s not uncommon for my columns to evoke a visceral reaction in readers. Like “Frequent flyer trials and tribulations,” which galvanized reader Joel J. so deeply, he required medical attention.
“I was a little grumpy yesterday when I read your article since I was sitting at home with a sore back,” he effervesced in an e-mail. “Maybe it was my back and not your whiny and biased article that annoyed me but I don’t think so.”
The same column stirred a profoundly adoring response from Meredith Pro Tem devotee Holly D.
“To trash an entire group of employees because one passenger was not able to be re-accommodated when her child got sick is self-indulgent to say the least,” she fawned in a letter to the editor.
As is often the case with world leaders and Lindsay Lohan, concerns about my health are also ubiquitous. After all, a week without my 800-plus printed words would bring ruin to countless lives. That’s why groupie David P. has written me nearly every week since August to ensure my lady parts are in order, as he’s privy to the scientific fact that a woman’s weight and menstrual cycle are directly connected to the lobe in the brain that makes her write well.
After reading “Polygamy may not be so bad after all,” David was alarmed. “Are you going through postpartum syndrome right now? Or, is it that time of month — again?” he asked.
“Looking back at the Year of the Woman” also caused him concern that I might be “going through delayed ‘postpartum.’”
The column “Mama said flaunt it if you’ve got it” made David worry “that a lot of women … are probably ‘sniping’ … that you talk too much about your baby and you think you’re so great, etc. … I hope it’s not that time of month … again!”
And he was so inspired after reading, “Inching farther to the right,” that he thought I, too, might be so moved by my own writing that I would expose myself in public.
“Please don’t take your pants off unless you’ve lost your ‘baby fat,’” he pleaded. “Not everybody wants to see you with no pants on!”
Really, who needs fame, money and awards when they have believers like Richard H., who said touchingly of “An open letter to Bob Costas:”
“Is it amateur hour? … I have never read such a mean spirited and unprofessional rant. … How this woman can carry for an entire column on about Bob Costas’ alleged surgical procedures is beyond me. It’s no wonder that she’s now working for a free newspaper and no longer a ‘fellow NBC colleague,’ albeit an NBC page. You … have allowed this small-time nothing to use her entire column to vent some misguided obsession that she obviously has. I found the tone and the content of the entire piece unbelievable and offensive. … I really regret reading such garbage.”
It’s that kind of insightful acclaim that motivates me to continue week after week. That, and the anonymous handwritten letter I received from an alleged relative of Mr. Costas.
“Perhaps the high perch of Pro Tem … gives you the authority to judge, blame, provoke the likes of lowly journalists like Bob Costas,” it read. “Yes, [Bob], like all, has faults … except perhaps for you … the perfect, non-whining woman who has herself in perfect order. We all aspire to be so positive and perfect and uplifting as yourself. You are a difficult act to follow [but] we will certainly try … . keep up the good work.”
Katherine J. also couldn’t mask her rampant admiration for the Costas column.
“I am flummoxed and disturbed,” she gushed. “Ms. Carroll’s sniping … is devoid of respect and decorum. I cannot imagine what caused her to feel spiteful enough to express such sentiments to anyone … . It would have made my stomach queasy to construct such a missive.”
And it’s precisely that kind of mandate that led me to decide that if my name isn’t announced as a Pulitzer Prize winner on April 12, I might just skip it altogether in 2011 and vie for a Nobel or Publisher’s Clearing House prize instead. Based on my fan mail, I’m pretty sure I’ll be a lock for either one.
More on and from Meredith at MeredithCarroll.com.