Dear Miss Mannerly:
I wrote to you a while back, wondering if I should change some of my behavior that I know seems kind of weird, such as making huge gestures with my lanky arms and jumping up on bar counters and tabletops to make speeches, so I’d be able to get this really, really super-powerful job I want.
Sure, I might be able to go for the same job later in my life, but by then I probably wouldn’t have my youthful Kennedy-esque looks. In fact, come to think of it I might end up looking less like Robert Kennedy than an older, heavier Ted Kennedy, which wouldn’t do the trick. So it’s gotta be now!
Before I took this little break I’ve been on, I was already getting tired of making apologies for everything. You said that I might not be very well suited for this major job I’m after and might want to try something else instead to fulfill myself, like maybe joining a little theater company, but after spending lots of time driving around and communing with the trees and furry creatures and occasionally eating some special dirt, I still haven’t changed my mind about wanting this job! At least I don’t think I have. Oh, I don’t know, I’m just not sure. No, I think I do want it. Probably. Yes!
Anyway, so after sort of spectacularly flaming out, I decided to “reset” and change my personality to try to get this job, which I still really, really want because it would be so cool. I’m smiling a lot but I think I also know when I’m supposed to pull a serious face to show how much I care about people less privileged than me, like all the people south of the Rio Grande, who should all just cross on in and live right here in the good old USA, every last one of them, getting free health care and free, well, everything! Because that’s who we are!
I still find myself doing a lot of apologizing, though, maybe even more than I did before, mostly for things I can’t even help, like being white and male and wealthy and on the cover of VANITY FAIR. But I’m learning and making some changes! For example, this time around, instead of doing something really dumb like livestreaming video of myself in the dentist’s chair getting my teeth cleaned, I got wise and livestreamed a video of myself getting a haircut and talking about needing my ear hair trimmed. Very different. (And it was a lot easier to talk this time!) That should show I’m a serious contender! I sent it to you so you could see...
Miss Mannerly, my question to you is, do I have to keep apologizing for being white and male and privileged? Those things are not going to change, so when have I apologized enough? Just so you know, there are plenty of other white, male, privileged competitors for this job. More of them almost every day, in fact! Although one is gay, so I guess he doesn’t have to apologize as much as the rest of us do.
Miss Mannerly believes that what she told you before about your career still stands. You would do much better and be more fulfilled in another sort of position, and since you’re already well-off and don’t actually need the money, the possibilities are endless.
Perhaps you’d like to be a forest ranger, or a gardener (since you like dirt) or even a long-haul trucker, as I remember you like to hit the roads. Or, considering your physical build and exaggerated movements, have you ever thought of studying tap dancing with Tommy Tune? If all else fails, you could hire yourself out as one of those “wacky inflatable arm-flailing tube men” and travel to breezy shopping center parking lots all around this great country. You would be much happier, I’m sure, doing any one of those things, as it occurs to Miss Mannerly that you and the other white, male, privileged individuals vying for this job will NEVER be able to apologize enough.
Dear Miss Mannerly:
I haven’t been arrested yet –- and if life were fair I would never, ever see the inside of a jail cell, as I am literally THE MOST moral person you could ever find, especially here in Washington DC –- but there’s increasing talk of my actually going to prison, maybe, at some point. I leaked some information and may have broken some laws, they say, but if that’s what I did it was totally justified, Miss Mannerly, believe me. I am just about the only one around here who still has his soul intact, and, speaking humbly from the heart, I think they should be giving me a medal and a parade for the things I did.
Other people are just so...weak. I stand tall and anyone can see I am head and shoulders above the rest. Still, I hear that a lot of material is going to be declassified very soon and it doesn’t look good for me and a number of my colleagues.
Anyway, Miss Mannerly, my question to you is this: As I am very tall --- I mean, VERY...tall --- does that mean I should take the bottom bunk and let my cellmate have the top? If I’m on the top bunk –- which, admittedly, I would prefer –- my legs and feet will hang down quite far over the edge, which will just be ludicrous and might irritate my cellmate, who for all I know will be a former co-worker of mine. (Gee, I hope it’s not the guy I trashed in a speech the other day; that would be awkward.) But if I sleep on the bottom bunk, my cellmate surely will trip over my outstretched legs in that small cell and fall flat on the cold concrete floor. Speaking as the most moral human being in the entire world –- perhaps the only person who’s ruled by moral absolutes –- I want to do the right thing as always. So, top or bottom bunk?
Miss Mannerly wonders if perhaps with this strange letter she is being hoaxed. (Some things are actually discovered to be hoaxes, you know.) But she will play along, and suggests the bottom bunk for you, only because it might lend a touch of humility.
Also, with your kind permission, she has perhaps a more important question for you: How will your cellmate sleep at night with that constant glare from your halo?