Letters, calls and the roar of the crowd:
Edward Fritz, Ocean City: After reading your column of Jan. 10, I feel obliged to write and express my disgust at your selection of a topic on which to write, especially when many who read your column will be having their breakfast.
Never in my 66 years have I seen an entire column written on the subject of vomiting.
COMMENT: How many times in your 66 years has the president of the United States vomited in public? I am sorry, but I have a sacred duty to remain relevant.
NB So watch for my column next week: "Dan Quayle pops a blister."
L. B. Reynolds, Finksburg: I feel you are extremely misinformed about hunters and hunting in general. The vast majority of hunters are interested in clean, quick, humane kills.
COMMENT: Yes, but of what? A few weeks ago, the following Associated Press story moved on the wires:
"In New York State, in one nightmarish stretch this fall, a man shot his mother and two fathers killed their sons -- in each case mistaking their kin for deer."
You go on to point out in your letter that hunters "have provided well over $2 billion in taxes and fees that have gone for game management research, acquiring land and improving overall wildlife conditions."
I hope in the future that some of this money be used for eyeglasses.
Theodore M. Bayless, M.D., Meyerhoff Center for Digestive Disease, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore: Re: Bush's vomiting episode. You missed your chance: Bush became ill because he ate quail for lunch.
COMMENT: Who says doctors aren't funny? Overlooked in all the concentration on Bush's vomiting, however, is his accompanying fainting spell.
I read in a couple of stories that fainting is perfectly normal, nothing to worry about, happens all the time, etc.
Since when? I never have fainted. I never have seen anybody faint. I don't know anyone who has fainted.
And the only place I have heard about fainting is in Victorian romance novels when the heroine learns she may be carrying the evil landowner's baby.
Kirk Nevin, White Hall: You've seen the bumper sticker: "I'm Proud That My Child Is An Honor Student At (Blank) Middle School!"
You also have probably heard that our public schools are occasionally criticized for being substandard.
Well, guess what? The schools have found the perfect way to silence the critics: Put every kid on the honor roll!
It would take a mean s.o.b. to criticize a school where his kid is consistently on the honor roll -- the top 98 percent of the class. The 2 percent who don't make it are probably dead.
COMMENT: As proof, you enclose a news clipping that lists an awful lot of honor roll students for one school. But that could be because kids have gotten really, really smart over the years and we just didn't notice it.
Or it could be a reflection of a new trend: remove the pressure of competition from children's lives.
Recently, I called my good friend Karen to ask what I should get her daughter, who is my goddaughter, for her birthday.
"Sarah really has begun to like board games," Karen said.
L Swell, I said, I'll get her a Monopoly set. I love Monopoly.
"Yes, I know," Karen said, "but that's not what you should get Sarah. All Sarah's board games are non-competitive."
What the hell is a non-competitive board game? I asked.
"One in which everyone wins," Karen said.
But what good is that? I said. That's not what real life is like! Monopoly teaches you to be cold and ruthless and, most importantly, to destroy not only your enemies, but also your friends. Don't you want Sarah prepared for life?
"I want Sarah prepared for life," Karen said, "I just don't want her prepared to become a newspaper columnist."
David A. Titus, Baltimore: I know you are going to ignore this letter or edit it to try to make me seem like an idiot, but I have gotten more then a few laughs at your expense over the years: from having your car broken into, to [being a] snow wimp when you stayed home, to Wichita.
I just wanted to let you know someone is paying attention and knows you are a jerk and hypocrite.
COMMENT: I had to go back through my files to find the columns you mentioned: The column about my car was my very first column for The Sun. The snow wimp column came a few years later and the Wichita column came last year.
Some columnists are impressed by the loyalty of their fans. I am impressed by the loyalty of the people who can't stand me.
And though we don't agree on things, David, I do want to thank you for sticking with me all these years.
By the way, the only editing I do on letters is for space, misspellings, grammar, etc.
I never edit letters to make the writers seem like idiots. It is completely unnecessary.