So Etsy's blog asked me to contribute a short thing on how I felt about Sweethearts candies for Valentine's Day, and I wrote up a few paragraphs about how they used to gross me out once unboxed. You can read it here. I had Brent read it, and he was like, "Maybe leave out the part where you talk about how you're not that disturbed by waiters spitting in your food because it's just so gross, Andrea." And I was like, "Thanks for your opinion, but I'm going to ignore it like you ignore me when you play Mass Effect until 4 in the morning."
Then the Etsy post went up on Valentine's, and that day, a few comments started rolling in from community members that the piece was inappropriate for the site and that they thought it was kind of disgusting, but whatever. They were also upset by another part of the post, not done by me, that had jokey alternate Sweethearts sayings, and there was this whole, frenzied misinterpretation of one of the hearts, when I think the author's intent was clearly not malicious.
But back to me! Because me is my sweet spot!
I woke up the day after Valentine's to a tweet directed at me from a fragranced soap seller, saying that she hated my Etsy article and it was an embarrassment to the entire site. She linked me to a message board on Etsy where a whole lot of crafters were going OFF not just on what a shitty piece I'd done, but also what a questionable person I must be. A candlemaker publicly seconded the soapmaker on Twitter, saying I was tasteless. And not to be a dick, but I just found all of this really funny because that post was such a softball. And it had gotten people-- gentle soap-making, candle-producing, knit-enthusiastic people-- more upset with me that probably anything else that I've ever written, including my first book, which can be construed as pro-suicide.
So I retweeted the soap seller's hostile tweet at me because I was honestly kind of proud. But then Rob Delaney happened to tell people to follow me a couple minutes later, and I started getting hundreds of followers, some of whom were then replying at the soap maker that she sucked. And then I think she got overwhelmed because she amped it up with some more trash talking and finished off by telling me to "retweet that to your idiots." So I was like, "Okay" and did. I mean, I was pretty entertained by this point.
Meanwhile, I went and read through some of the comments that were coming in on the Etsy message board, and I was getting my mind blown. If people just didn't like my piece or my writing style, that was totally fine. Look, sometimes I'm not into your crystal wine ornaments either. Diff'rent Strokes, ladies. But what really astounded me was the serious offense some of the members took to the content, often reading bizarro messages in innocent details, so I thought I'd take this opportunity, this opportunity of me writing on my blog, to clarify some of that intent.
1. The post is about "drizzling cum on childrens candy."
No one actually masturbated on my Sweethearts. As far as I know. Masturbatory was an adjective, suggesting that the candies were a one-way mental tug fest. The words "drizzled" and "come-on" were there to replicate a feeling the hearts gave me, not to indicate that the hearts had literally been cummed on. Hey, they may have been. We had some weird dudes in my class. And in that case, it's a good thing I never ate them, AMIRITE?
2. "The visualization of the outcast 10 year old boy and the sexualizing of candy hearts and envelopes is also disturbing. I'm not sure how its ok to use this writing style while talking about children. That is disturbing."
Listen, young outcasts masturbate too. Just because I wasn't into the kid who kept giving me hearts doesn't mean that he wasn't into himself...and I hope he was. Let's not shame him for that. Someone else commented that there's no way that a 5th grader could have been a stalker, but you've got to keep in mind that my generation had both Rollerblades AND cordless phones, so he definitely could. Right underneath my window. Regularly.
3. "Little kids never think like that! I never thought like that in grade school!"
I taught a fiction workshop at Loyola Marymount in which this girl read a story about a Loyola student doing Ecstasy for ten days on the beach until she was finally arrested for being a non-functional person roaming around Venice and was subsequently thrown in L.A.'s women's jail. A bunch of her classmates started off discussion by saying, "10 days of Ecstasy is totally unrealistic! And also, LMU students wouldn't do that amount of drugs on a beach." And then the girl lifted her head from where she'd been staring at the floor and she said, "Uh, this happened to me last summer. I just got out of the pysch ward."
4. "Did you know what masturbation was called in 5th grade? I didn't. Did you ever picture a fellow 5th grader masturbating about you in his mind? I didn't."
I did. And I so did. And I hoped it was Brian Millat.
5. "When I think of my 10 year old-5th grader self, pictures of masturbation certainly DO NOT come to mind."
You know, we all choose to define the stories of our lives in different ways. My personal narrative seems to have more childhood masturbation in it than yours, but it's not like it was ALL masturbation. If I were to spin you a yarn about my 5th grade life, it would definitely also be balanced out with super tragic bangs and a big time hard-on for tie dye pant sets with reflective mirrors glued to the shirts.
5. "The article was cruel and classist... I wondered if the kids that sent candy hearts could not afford better candy. Yes, poor children can be in Gifted and Talented programs."
Wait, what? There was also another comment that I was being an asshole by suggesting that kids who weren't in gifted programs were just dropping acid like craaazy. My implication was that we were so fixated on doing well in school that we didn't really have the time to trip out. But the bigger implication is that it's a fucking joke.
(P.S. I'm from Irvine. We're all rich!)
6. "Author mentions kids she "would not borrow a pencil from..." To me, that sounds snobbish."
Thank you. I love that I have standards.
So by the end of the day following Valentine's, the soapmaker asked me for a truce on Twitter, although I don't think the two of us had ever really been in a fight. I had just shared her opinion on a wider level. Regardless, I was like, "We have no problem" 1. because I think it's completely fine if she wants to hate that blog post and 2. because she wrote at me that she bought my latest book and that I was pretty. Everything was cool. But I just never had any idea that my brief thoughts on Sweethearts would be so upsetting to so many craftspeople. Because while some of the sellers were anxious that their shops would be affiliated with my kind of thing, I can assure them that when I go on Etsy looking for French Bulldog merchandise (shout-out to to seller MCOpen: I love my greeting cards, particularly the leprechaun French Bulldog!!), I have never once gone into shops through the blog, and I'm positive the same goes for buyers determined to bring home luxury scented soaps.