The Bra Jester Encounters Dyslexia

The thing about hate mail is that it’s very entertaining.

One grisduntled reader who may or may not suffer from Lesdyxia writes to tell me that “The Bra Jester Chronicles are a complete waist of space.”

I am no expert on the sartorial mysteries that lie hidden in a woman’s dresser drawers (the epithet “dresser” is indispensable to my meaning here). Indeed, the first lesson that marriage teaches a man involves the folding of laundry—namely, that some of it can’t be folded—but I’m damned and double damned if chronicling the history of that particular article of clothing lacks purpose. My first book, The Thong: A History in Pictures (ghosted by a former humor columnist named Ike Wit), was an instant best-seller. I used the royalties from it to buy a power-steering rig from a junkyard for my 1983 Dodge Ram, and in the twenty years I’ve owned the truck I’ve had to weld a cracked bracket only once, twice if you count the second time I had to weld it.

But where this “waist of space” is I cannot divine. Would it be Saturn, indicated by the belt-like rings around it? Or is it the zone above Uranus?

The puzzles of this life: are they not innumerable?

Another reader writes: “if I were to psychoanalyze you, I would say you call yourself ‘The Bar Jester’ because all you want to do is tell jokes in bars. Or, I should say, behind bars, for that is where you belong.”

A palpable hit, I confess, not to mention a fine example of the sort of depth to which psychoanalysis often despires. I do rather enjoy telling and listening to jokes, and I think bars are good places for the exchange of well-wrought humor. But the name “Bar Jester” boasts no high pedigree. It came to me one day, I’m embarrassed to say, as I was contemplating Trollope. I account this fact a failure of character, certainly, but there you have it. And as for jail: I hope never to return. For one thing I can’t account for the innumerable bars of soap scattered about on the floor in no apparent pattern.

An indignant woman from Austin writes, “I pity your wife. You should buy her a Valentine. I hope you die soon and give her a chance at a happy second marriage.”

No argument there. If I weren’t a persona and actually had a wife, her happiness would be fairly high on my list as well. Not above keeping company with men and telling jokes in bars, mind you, but pretty high up there nonetheless. For example, I’d make sure she had a brand new broom and dust pan waiting for her under the tree each Christmas—and a stocking full of Windex®.

A pasty-faced fellow I’m pretty sure I played basketball with in college writes: “so this is how a bitter middle-aged man who in his youth didn’t understand the meanings of the words “pass” and “defense” spends his time. You’re a bigger jerk now than you were in your mullet-headed teens. I hope your knees grind to powder.”

I confess I’m a slow learner, and writing has never been my strong suit. So I admit I couldn’t have articulated it this way back then, but time has taught me a few things at least: passing is how I get the ball, and defense is what other people play. I hope this helps to mend things. I wouldn’t go to my grave unreconciled to those from whom, whether in knowledge or in ignorance, I’m estranged.

A raven-haired Thomist in Virginia writes: “when I heard you were going to write a libelous piece titled ‘Why I am Leaving Patrick Deneen,’ I lost all respect for you. It is shameful to joke about such things.

Going to write such a piece? Joke? I spent days on it, agonized over it, put my very heart and soul into it, only to see it fall to the editing floor, dropped from the treacherous scissored hands of the cowardly censors at FPR. “It was likely to offend a certain wealthy conservative proctologist we’re hoping to milk for cash,” reMark’d one senior editor. “First Things First. Our goal is to be as rich as Those Other Guys at That Other Website.”

A trollish fellow calling himself MilhousIsDuke writes: “You’re one of those morons who believe in god. Me, I quit god to become an intellectual.”

It’s true. I cannot deny it. It does seem to me there is a God. She’s probably Hispanic, and with my luck a Catholic, but I simply cannot outrun the Hound of Heaven. No matter how I turn things over in my head, I can’t help but come to the same conclusion: the only thing worse than the smug superiority of the agnostic is the smug superiority of the atheist. Apparently Nothing is heavier than the cross.

An undergraduate male with poor taste and worse judgment writes: “according to my calculations, you’re a few weeks shy of producing something every Wednesday on FPR for three straight years now. How do you do it and still hold a job and maintain a family life?”

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