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(Today's sidebar is being written after reading Dave's entry for today, Chuck and Die.)

Well, I guess Dave showed me. He was really mean. He made fun of my thinning hairline and expanding gut. He considered making fun of how bad I am at home improvement. He compared me to George Costanza. Ow.

Ow. Ow. Ow.

I'm glad I apologized. I don't think I could have taken much more of this abuse.


Wednesday -- October 6, 1999

Just three days ago I said I was going to be a nice guy and not kill a fly with a sledgehammer. Last night I broke out the sledgehammer anyway. This morning I took that entry down.

I've said it before but it bears repeating because it's true: I love a good flamewar. I even love a bad one. I enjoy arguing about anything and everything anytime, anywhere. When I'm doing it on paper (or electrons, as the case may be here), I tend to get caught up in the crafting of the argument, swept away in my own rhetoric. I lean toward -- and sometimes tip over into -- mean-spirited because ... well ... it's fun to write that stuff. It's fun to take a stance and bolster the holy shit out of it, by hook or by crook.

It's sport for me, usually. It's rarely personal, but I'll argue as though it were if it serves my case. I'm pretty thick-skinned about this sort of thing -- especially in this environment -- and you have to really work it to hurt my feelings. That hasn't happened yet. I assume my opponents are that way, too. But sometimes they're not. Sometimes they get hurt. And sometimes I feel like a prick afterward.

I almost feel that way now. Almost. Dave did tweak my wife, I think deliberately and maliciously. He waved a red flag and he'd have to be an idiot to think I'd let that pass unscathed. So yeah, he asked for it, and I gave it to him in the first round. I'm not so sure he asked for the second round. That may have been overkill.

That's part of the reason I took the entry down. The other side of taking it down is that my argument in it was flawed. I made much hay of the fact that he was flirting with Beth behind my back, arguing that it's not, as he said, a joke. But you know what? Maybe it is. I myself have flirted with the occasional woman and not been entirely serious about it. I may have even excused it with "I was joking." It's not a joke, not a punch-line funny kind of thing, but it can be kind of a goof, kind of a ... joke.

So my argument was flawed, so I killed the entry. And maybe I swung the sledgehammer in it and got a little mean, so I killed the entry. And I almost felt like a prick afterward, so I killed the entry.

I don't fully feel like a prick because Dave isn't the innocent he's trying to play. His swipe at Beth was a swipe, make no mistake. It was mean-spirited and vindictive and I have no doubt that it was prompted by her slapping him down in e-mail. Like I said the first time, I really do think he felt their "relationship" had grown to the point he felt he had the right to scold Beth for her "inappropriate" behavior. And he apparently has a history of doing this with other women, so ... there you go. No innocent there. Dave jabs and then cries foul when you slug back.

But I do feel like I went after him too hard in the dead entry. I wrote as though I were morally outraged and offended and angry and blah-blah-blah. I'm not. Dave's not my best friend in the world by any means, but I really don't bear him any ill will. We've exchanged a lot of jokey e-mail over time, and he called in to The Booth while I was there, and we've been sort of friendly with each other. With that history, I sort of feel like I just beat up on a pal. I'd be a little bewildered by it if I were him.

And so I guess I owe Dave an apology. Sort of. I can't extend it all the way because I really do feel that he put himself in the line of fire for some of this, but I do apologize for the tone of the entry I took down. It was too mean and too condescending and too critical and just too much. And so, Dave, I'm sorry for that one.

One thing, though, Dave. You said, of Beth and me: "Why is it so hard for grown adults to admit they made a mistake and move on? Why is that?"

Good question, Dave. Have you answered it?


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Copyright © 1999
Chuck Atkins