[Letter Talk] Mail Bag #25

In today’s mail bag, I chat with a listener about keeping up appearances, ask about insurance rates, and write a letter to a national hero.

Letter Talk is a short (~10 minutes) comedy podcast where a I write letters to anyone about anything, and I’d be honored to write one to you.


Hi Darin,

It’s good to talk to you, and I’m sorry to hear about some of the bummers you’re facing. Life can be so heavy sometimes, so I just want to let you know that I’m glad you’re here and that you’re keepin’ on keepin’ on. Is that grammar correct? I never realized how not versatile that phrase is until just now. I feel like colloquialisms should at least be able to withstand a tense change, but what do I know?

I can relate about worrying about your general attractiveness. I mean I really only need to impress myself at this point, so my situation is probably less complicated. I think it’s something most of us struggle with in our own ways.

I’ve actually gained a little weight recently, a fact I could easily conceal on a podcast. I admit to using the added pounds to make a rude person feel awkward. I was at an open mic recently and someone said to me “I like your style, but you don’t have to try so hard.” Ah yes, an open mic is a wondrous place where I can get accused of trying too hard and not hard enough all in the same glorious evening.

I asked this troglodyte how they thought I was trying to hard with my clothing. They said, “What’s with this shirt? And you don’t need to match your hat to your skirt.” I looked down at my shirt: a design with an eagle sporting a sick mullet – a bird deemed a ‘Murican eagle by my friend who designed it. My reply to the comment was “ … oh, I bought this shirt because the money would go to my best friend’s honeymoon. This is my summer hat, and it’s just a coincidence that it matches with one of the only skirts I own that I don’t feel fat in.” Then I stared. Awkwardly. I stared as hard as I could in hopes that the hard staring would make the situation feel weirder for them and possibly burn a few calories for me. If I had the energy for it, I would have forced myself to cry or maybe a more effective take would be to let a single tear run down my cheek.

Anyway, I apologize for getting off track. I was trying to say that so many of us struggle with appearance and we may all be in different trenches, but we’re still in these dumb difficult trenches.

Would it help if I called in the Queer Eyes to come help you? I don’t personally trust my own recommendations as far as appearance goes, because I know my taste is probably different than most (remember, I’m the fool who happens to match her skirt to her hat). In the meantime, I guess you could try a french tuck?

By the way, there’s something I want to ask, how come you stopped writing your blog? I read that you wanted to write so you could get better, and feel less like a “jack of all trades, master of none” a phrase that contains the titles of two TV shows I tried really hard to like (sorry everyone). It sounded like your writing gave you something to take pride in. I mean, my dad used to say that if you feel like you’re having low self esteem, do something to impress yourself, even if it’s small. I know this won’t cure anything, but maybe those little things can stack up and help.

Darin, you seem like a very sweet, sensitive person. That’s an asset in a world where people are oddly confrontational about matching clothes. It sounds like there are a few challenges in your life, but just having some kind of emotional vulnerability and awareness can be such a strength. I’m rooting for you.



P.S. I wish you the best with your new foray into nicotine gum. It is the only gum where I will forgive people for chewing it, taking it out and storing it behind their ear or wherever, only to pull it out and chew it again. That shit seems expensive!

Is it illegal to match your hat and your skirt? Even if it is an accident? I just don’t want my insurance rates to change. I promise I’m not being negligent!

Dear Smokey the Bear,

I’m really excited to be in touch with you! Thanks for posting your address on Twitter, that’s very brave. I hope you haven’t gotten any letters that are too weird. Weird letters are the worst!

When I was a child, you said, “Remember, only you can prevent forest fires,” and I really took that to heart. I was the person who could save everyone from these blazes in my area. I was the hero who ensured the safety of the community, and those folks who built their houses very close to the forest.

I was a scared child that mostly stayed in the city. My dad, an over-the-road truck driver, sometimes bought Black Cat Firecrackers for my sister and me. I acted like a really tough bad kid, but I’d bring them over to my friend Marvin’s house and coerce him or his neighbors into lighting them. My dad’s advice was to light them so all of them would go off at once in a terrifying pop pop pop explosion. He said it was more efficient this way, because if you lit them one at a time it would give enough time for the cops to listen and follow the sound. It\’s weird to look at blowing firecrackers in terms of “efficiency,” as if someone in a suit was hovering over us saying that he wanted some blown up firecrackers on his desk by Monday morning or we were all fired.

So, as you can see, I was not super well versed in things that might start forest fires. Now I’m not making excuses, I’m just trying to think of why I might have failed you. And I did. I failed you. I was the only person who could have prevented forest fires, yet forest fires still happened all around me. I actually have a list of local forest fires I failed to prevent in my lifetime:

  • The McNally fire of 2002 in California
  • The Murphy Complex Fire of 2007 in Nevada and Idaho
  • The 2008 California Fire
  • The Pizza Baron grease fire in the mid 90s
  • The Rush Fire of 2012 in California and Nevada
  • The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
  • The Rim Fire of 2013 in California
  • All those times someone started a fire near Carson City because they lit fireworks
  • The time the rich people neighborhood in Reno set on fire because a flaming tumbleweed blew into their neighborhood.

I feel absolutely terrible about all these fires I failed to prevent. I am so sorry, and I understand if that means you have to fire me from my duties. But before you have to, I’d like to point out that Nevada and California seem to be on fire more since I left the area. I even found a website that just gives you real time updates on what is on fire right now in Nevada. It’s NevadaFireInfo.org, and the photo on the front page shows women jogging near the charred remains of dead plants, as if to laugh in the face of death, screaming, “do what you will, forest fires, for you will never stop this yuppie jog squad!” I’d also like to point out a few fires that I helped prevent:

  • The Rand McNally Atlas fire of 1998 in which I moved this Atlas away from the fireplace
  • The “I think I’ll pull over and get my pickup towed” fire of 2006, where I decided to stop driving my smoking Dodge Dakota
  • The “we’re supposed to burn wood in the stove, not books you don’t like” fire of 99
  • The “if you forget to turn on the store security system one more time we have to fire you” fire of 2010
  • The “holy shit, I don’t know how to use fireworks” fire of 2009

Given that I’ve prevented a fair amount, you’ll notice that most of the fires I failed to prevent are from 2002 to 2013. That means that until around age 14, I was doing a wonderful job. And then I got so preoccupied with teen drama that I lost focus. So even though I know I’ve failed you, I wanted to say that I’m ready to get back on the horse. I know it’s a lot of pressure though, to be the only person preventing forest fires, so I wouldn’t blame you if you enlisted someone more talented to do the job. Or if you hired more than one person. Maybe five? I don\’t know, I guess it depends how good they are.

I leave the decision to you, Smokey. I know when it comes to fire safety, you\’re a well qualified bear wearing pants and a hat, and holding a shovel, because your preferred method of stopping fires is beating them to death with a blunt object. I’ve always admired that about you.

Keep it lit,


P.S. I’m very grateful that your pants don’t match your hat. That would be gouache as hell.