A couple weeks ago, I got the most baffling phone call ever.
“This article was the most dark and depressing thing I've ever read,” said the lady caller.
At first, I thought it was a joke. Surely an article on Metrocon, Florida's largest anime convention which took place in Tampa earlier this summer, couldn't be the source of someone's distress. It was a cutesy feature story following a group of New Port Richey costumers (called cosplayers) and college students and their costume-making and wearing adventures.
The lady continued on.
The article was, unbeknownst to me, the reporter, actually about “evil, jobless losers still living in their parents basements.” She couldn't believe my editor ran it on the front page of our little twice-weekly newspaper. It was offensive to the older folks in Pasco County and it's a sign of the “end times.” She, as a nurse, had better things to do, like saving people's lives and volunteering at a soup kitchen, than to waste money making costumes.
What I wanted to tell her, what I'm telling her now that my anger has subsided, is that she was talking to a reporter who also costumes. Who works full-time, graduates with a masters degree in two months, volunteers, does Secret Santa and Angel Tree every year at Christmas, donated nearly $100 in school supplies for teachers for Stuff the Bus this year and on Valentine's Day, instead of eating out and buying gifts for her boyfriend, donates money to a research organization looking for the cure to a rare, fatal disease that killed her kitten, Sebastion.
Evil, jobless loser I am not.
I also wanted to tell her about the Airship Annabel Lee, a Tampa Bay steampunk group that raised money for Autism Speaks by making and selling bustle skirts for Victoriana costumes.
Then there's Tampa local Jon Hunn, who along with his group, the Suncoast Ghostbusters, has raised more than $15k for charities such as American Cancer Society, Stars of Hope and the Humane Society in the last three years in addition to visiting sick children at hospitals in their Ghostbusters outfits.
As for the nurse and “end times” thing, my stepmother is a pyschiatric registered nurse for the VA who helps our country's veterans with some of the worst PTSD cases. She's a devout Catholic who attends mass weekly, and who also dressed in Renaissance garb for her wedding with my dad, a ceremony separate from the small one held at her church, that is. Evil? I think not. Jobless? Not ever.
So instead of lowering myself to spouting hateful vitrol in return, ma'am, here's what I'd like to say: for someone who has better things to do than costume, you sure have some strange priorities. I could have written an article that informed and helped the community in the time it took you to rant and rave to me.
As for offending the older folks, the elderly aren't the only demographic in West Pasco. A lot of my writing speaks to the younger generations in this region that have been underserved by the media that has traditionally catered to older readers. Plus, the old ladies dig my pink hair.