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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

This is NOT a humor column

Published: March 17, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

This weeks topic concerns a letter to the editor sent in to The Hoot by an alert reader, who shall remain nameless, concerning a column I wrote two weeks ago about the serious, non-humor related topic of dental hygiene for snails. The letter was signed His Name 08. (For those of you wondering, 08 is not actually his family name. At least thats what Ive been hearing on the grapevine these days. It must be what his buddies call him. And believe me when I tell you this: Id run around in circles really fast until I fell down TWICE just for a nickname like 08.)

Apparently, 08 disagreed with my assessment of the importance of dental hygiene for snails, specifically my downplaying of its importance to society at large. In the article of concern I had written, at times the snail may start worrying about its teeth because it wants to look and feel good about itself, strutting around as snails often do on that slimy goo of a leg it has. Then a gloopy neuron fires off in one of its antennas and it suddenly realizes that it a) has no teeth, and b) doesnt even have the mental capacity to grasp the concept of dental hygiene in the first place. Then somebody steps on it.

Bothered by what he perceived to be my inaccurate assessment of the national snail-tooth-decay situation as evidenced by the staggering statistics of snails that suffer needlessly from periodontitis, he responded with the following accusation, and I incorrectly quote, After all, who treats the wounded after a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv? Im pretty sure theyre snails with impeccable dental hygiene. (See letter to the editor in the March 10, 2006 edition of the Hoot entitled Lets hope Rabb wont catch on fire, second paragraph from the end, and substitute the words snails with impeccable dental hygiene for doctors.)

Well. Im offended. Lets talk about this like civilized people, shall we? No need to thwack around unfounded accusations against the innocent suicide bombers in Tel Aviv or fling around tasteless jokes. After all, its not like this is some kind of humor column.

I would like to discuss the unsatisfactory nature of 08s response to the piece. My main problem (or as cattle farmers like to call it, beef) with it is that instead of citing heap upon heap of snail-related research gathered at really stupid think tanks in Washington DC concerning the irrelevancy of snail halitosis in treating wounded terrorist victims, he simply goes out and attacks the NEJS department.

He writes, and I quote correctly this time, It must have been nice majoring in a subject where if your neurons fire even once in a while you can get an A. I dont know where youre getting your information from, 08, but my neurons DID fire once in a while, and I got a B.

Though I am deeply affronted by this unwarranted attack against my neurons, I may just be able to excuse 08 for the inaccuracy of his reporting and view this as a veiled attack on snails using the NEJS department as a front. Specifically, he may have been referring to the gloopy neuron I had written about that fires off in the snail when it suddenly realizes it doesnt have teeth, and been saying in an offhand way that snails can barely eek out an A in NEJS. This I will not stand for.

PETA is going to have to have a few words with you, my friend.

08 goes on to accuse me of not comprehending the purpose of a fire extinguisher, and uses this as evidence that I got an A in NEJS, when I clearly did not. Referring to the accusation previously quoted, which I still believe to be an insult to snails around the globe, he writes, Why this unfounded accusation you ask? Statements such as, 4) a fire extinguisher, although Im not quite sure what that one is for, might point you in the right direction.

Hey! If you want to tell me what a giant heavy red thing that spits foam is doing sitting on a wall looking all innocent and probably plotting my demise as we speak, go ahead! Im all ears! But if you just want to mock me for not getting everything that you do, then fine, but its not going to get us anywhere. We were all created with different strengths and weaknesses. Understandingthe function of a fire extinguisher is just something I wasnt meant to do, and I have to face that.

Another inflammatory statement comes from the fourth paragraph, where he writes, For those who still arent sure if they are interested in the NEJS track, my advice is to think carefully about it. Will your four years be nothing more than a huge waste of time and money?


Finally, in a personal email to me, which I have received written permission to quote from the author, he writes the following. Again, it was not clear that your column was a joke, and if your column is a comedy piece as you claim then please try to make it funnier in the future. I have nothing against the NEJS department, NEJS majors, or you that extends beyond the scope of your article and my response letter to the editor.

Is it clear now?

This is NOT a humor column.