Here’s the start of a column I wrote on March 30, 1992:
“I’ve decided to occasionally answer my mail. Here goes. Notes from hell, Volume 1.”
Calling my reader mail “notes from hell” was an easy call. I had been a columnist for three months, and was already getting some gems. So it began.
“Frank Cerabino’s column is the putrid pusillanimous prattle of a peregrinating putz,” wrote Malcolm Fleschner of Palm Beach, who was the first reader to chime in for that column.
He was followed by John J. Robbins of Stuart, who told my editors to take action against me and my newly hatched column.
“By all that is holy, keep him hidden between your back pages. Preferably between the personal and help wanted section of your classifieds,” Robbins wrote.
I stuck a “Volume 1” on that column because I imagined I would write other reader-mail columns, and I might as well number them.
But I had no idea just how many I’d write, and that 25 years later, I’d be writing “Volume 100” on a notes-from-hell column.
As you will see, the names have changed over the years, but the general theme has not.
Notes from hell, volume 100:
“Several years ago, quite frankly I went cold turkey and quit reading your columns. Simply put, I couldn’t take any longer. Sometimes reading your column would leave me either nauseous, irritable, sick to my stomach or just downright dumbfounded as to what I had just read.
“But, just like Michael Corleone said, “ Just when I thought I could walk away…..” Well you get the picture.
“Today’s column about Dixie Highway and all things racist that are connected to the South just took the cake and sucked me right back in. Yup, you did it again …
“The word CERABINO is what’s offensive.”
— Marvin N. Blitz, Lake Worth
“Gotta let you know, my wife and I have enjoyed your column over the years and this morning I actually, not literally, threw up from the laughter of this morning’s prose.”
— Garland Johnson
Dear Marvin and Garland:
I’ve got an idea. I’d like to put you both in the same room, sitting across a table and within projectile-vomit range of each other. Then I’d hand you both one of my columns to read. First one who blows chunks gets to have lunch with me — or without me, in Marvin’s case.
“Did you notice the slice of chocolate cake at Trump’s place next to Melania?
“Have you ever seen the chocolate cake at Costco? It’s the same. Take a close look. Same chocolate flakes on top, etc.
— Helena Sliney
Thanks for including that photo of the slice of chocolate cake served at Mar-a-Lago. It does look like Costco’s chocolate cake, but I don’t know if that means it is actually a Costco chocolate cake.
It could be that Costco’s chocolate cake is similar to Mar-a-Lago’s chocolate cake in the same way that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn are similar variations of Goldman Sachs bankers who’ve become the Wall Street frosting in the Trump White House.
As far as comparing the chocolate flakes on the cakes from Mar-a-Lago and Costco, I’d rather not get involved and be accused of engaging in flake news.
“Noun: One note before ‘retard.’”
On the scale of Sound of Music jokes, that scored well above a so-sotard.
“Another outstanding Libterd article. When you die they’re going to put your body on display at the DNC!”
— Dick, Port St. Lucie
Dear Dick in Port St. Lucie and most likely elsewhere:
I like the DNC tomb line. I hadn’t heard that one before. But you’ve got to improve your game on the name calling.
You can go with “Libtard,” which is a pejorative label that suggests liberals are somehow mentally challenged. Or you can go with “Libturd,” which suggests that liberals are a kind of human excrement.
But a “Libterd” just sounds like a third-generation liberal from Brooklyn.
“If the recent opinion piece is properly attributable to you, then you need to find another hobby, as you are an embarrassment to your so-called profession … Your appeal to the 1 percenters progressive liberal ideology is most offensive.”
— David T. Askin, CPA, JD
Dear CPA, JD, LOL, ROTFLMAO:
I recently received an email from a David T. Askin, and I’m not sure it’s properly attributed to you, but I’m going to take some time away from my hobby here to address it. I see from your initials that your hobby may be as so-called certified public accountant.
I’d venture that being a so-called CPA requires a grasp of numbers and how to calculate them. So your calculation that my column only appeals to the 1 percent of readers who are progressive liberals seems to be a significant math error.
When it comes to registered voters in Palm Beach County, about 42 percent are Democrats and 28 percent are Republican. And considering that half of those Republicans read me, not for pleasure, but as a verbal equivalent of a refreshing high colonic, that leaves you far short of the 99 percent disapproval rate you claim in your so-called email.
Maybe it’s a rounding error.
“Please keep your opinions to yourself and just discuss the facts as documented. I know it’ll be difficult, but we know you can do it, Leftie.”
— Gerald P. Calise
Dear Mr. Calise:
OK, I’ll try.
Fact No. 1: I write a column.
Fact No. 2: By definition, a column is opinion writing.
Fact No. 3: Helena Sliney’s got a point: The chocolate cake at Mar-a-Lago does look like the one at Costco.