Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I heard back from the Grapevine

It's not every day that a bunch of grapes sits down and writes you a letter. And as it turns out, this hasn't happened to Ruddy Ruddy either, though at first glance, it sort of looked that way. The recently delivered envelope has a return address, but no name -- only a drawing of a bunch of grapes where the name should go. Could it be Don Cherry's personal stationery?

With the envelope opened, the reason for anonymity becomes clearer: It's from the executive editor of the AA Grapevine, who does Ruddy Ruddy a decent turn by not announcing to his mailman and the world that he's receiving literature from alcoholics and therefore probably is one. The return address -- post-office box 1980 in New York's Grand Central Station -- becomes a little less mysterious too; it's not hard to picture the editor of the AA Grapevine giving himself a sponge bath and then settling down to crank out the latest issue in his makeshift office in a bus-station men's room.

Dear Friend, Executive Editor Robin Bromley's letter begins. I hope you enjoyed your recent issue of the AA Grapevine, the international journal of Alcoholics Anonymous. I suppose I did. (Read about it here if you haven't already or if you were drunk when you read it the first time and can't remember it.) The letter goes on to suggest that Ruddy Ruddy might want to consider signing on for a subscription: With articles on AA in Mongolia, the Home Group, and the International Convention, as well as the experience, strength, and hope of dozens of alcoholics, the next few issues promise to be particularly exciting, and we don't want you to miss any of them. I must admit, reading about AA in Mongolia sounds kind of interesting. It's good to know that if you get hooked on the local alcoholic beverage kumiss, there's a way to get help, although all you'd really have to do to get me to quit is remind me that I'm drinking fermented mare's milk.

Subscribing is simple
, Bromley says. Just fill in the enclosed postage-paid subscription form and mail it back to us. (This isn't strictly accurate -- the form is actually preaddressed to PO Box 1980 in Marion, OH, not PO Box 1980 in Grand Central Station, New York, NY. I wonder at the coincidence of AA owning PO Box 1980 in both locations. Does the number hold particular numerological significance for drunks?) Or if you prefer, you can order by phone, by fax, or via the website. I suspect these orders are received via a payphone outside the men's room, a nearby Kinko's, and a battered old laptop residing in a convenient WiFi hotspot.

I still feel, as I did when I got my complimentary issue, that I know Robin Bromley's name from somewhere, but a Google search turns up little. Although I do wonder if this wordsmith is the same person as the Robin Bromley who authored the children's book The Story of Smokey Bear. It might explain the jokes in the issue of AA Grapevine that were clearly aimed at drunk children. I might suggest to the good editor that another way to attract children to the publication might be to feature a small, cute, furry mascot -- say, a rodent called Alcoholic Anonymouse (or "Al" for short). Just an idea.

Anyway, turning my attention to the enclosed postage-paid subscription form, I must say that rather than being a simple card-and-envelope setup, it's a bit of a complicated piece of origami that I'm not sure I'd be able to figure out with a few drinks in me. But it does have a nice cartoon on it that looks a little like an AA Grapevine-reading Charlie Brown in a trenchcoat. The cartoon says, once again, that they're trying to draw the youthful readers, but the fact that he's dressed like a flasher says ... well, I don't know what it says, but I don't like it.

The subscription rates seem pretty reasonable: $18 for one year (12 issues), $34.25 for two years (24 issues), or $50 for three years (36 issues). I wonder what the deal is with them charging that extra quarter on the two-year deal instead of a flat $34. Would it kill them not to get that extra 12.5 cents a year?

And the slogan's a winner: Even if it saves your life only once this year -- you still get eleven more issues. That's a good deal! Or is it? If the AA Grapevine lets me down on that second occasion when I need my life saved, I'm not going to need those other eleven issues. And if I only need my life saved the one time, then I'm just pretty much throwing away money on the extra eleven issues.

I'm not convinced I should subscribe on Ruddy Ruddy's behalf. Checking out the AA Grapevine website to investigate further, I'm drawn to the "Ham on Wry" humour section. It seems they have a regular feature where they'll post a cartoon, and you can supply a "wonderfully wacky one-liner" to caption it. Here are some submissions for an extremely simple cartoon featuring two men talking to each other:
"Alcoholism is an incurable, often fatal disease. However, there IS a solution!"
David B., Grace Group, Edmonton, Canada

"The bad news is that you're late for the meeting. The good news is that you can only ever be late for your first meeting!"
Michael B., B.C., Canada

"I thought about taking a drink last night ... but I called my sponsor instead!"
Cheryl T., Betrand, MO
These are the lamest jokes I have ever read. Two of them aren't jokes at all, while the other might be a joke, but also feels like it might be a threat. Either the contributors are missing the point that they're supposed to submit punchlines, or they actually think these are punchlines.

That settles that. I don't want Ruddy Ruddy mixed up with these folks. Sorry, AA Grapevine; you won't be getting my seventeen dollars and twelve-and-a-half cents this year.


Blogger Zebraxolius said...

This makes me angry Ruddy inc. that you tell people that ruddy is a ridiculous name, because the fact is my real name is Ruddy!!! So i think i should get some of the profits of your organization. My name is Ruddy Danniel. not ruddy ruddy tho---. still tho-- its discrimination against my name. don't u think???

4:31 PM  
Blogger Peter Lynn said...

I don't think it's discrimination against your name at all. "Ruddy Ruddy" is a ridiculous name, as it's clearly fake, being simply one word repeated. One Ruddy is fine. That said, I'm not that keen on this right-wing jackass Christopher Ruddy who writes for Fuck that guy.

However, are you sure your name isn't actually Rudy?

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now I've seen everything. Flying pigs out of a person's butt, and a real live person who has the unfortunate name of Ruddy. Not Roddy or Rudy, but Ruddy. I wonder what it would be like to pick up chicks at bars with a name like that?

At least Ruddy rhymes with lots of things like Fuddy, Duddy, and Buddy; and you can also use your name as an instant topic of conversation.

"So, my mom's crack whore and chose the name Ruddy for me. How's things with you?"

Plus it fit's good with titles of jobs. Like if say, you want to become a groundskeeper, then people could call you Groundskeeper Ruddy.

Ruddy Ruddy the fictional character is funny. Ruddy Danniel, as a real name - that's disturbing. It's like finding out there are real people named Zeke, Cletus or Homer.

7:33 AM  
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