The nitpicky mailbag runneth over

Published 11:16 pm Saturday, April 21, 2007

The mail has been brutal of late. I have heard from everyone living in a trailer, no, mobile home, no, manufactured home, in Florida and Alabama.

That’s a lot of hate mail.

“Manufactured homes” have a bunch of lobbies and associations. I have heard from them all. I have learned from angry industry leaders that mobile homes have not been built since 1976, when it was decreed that they’d be called something else.

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So, if your home was built since 1976, I’m not talking about you or to you. Your home has a new name and is safe — the associations decree that it is so.

According to the Alabama Manufactured Housing Association, for instance, factory-built homes stapled together since 1994 can withstand winds of up to 110 mph. I’m thinking of parking one in my backyard to use as a storm shelter.

Of course, a lot of the dwellings I so cruelly called insubstantial were trailers that were built before the invention of double knit, much less 1994. They badly need an association to change their name and make them safe.

A lot of the mad mail pointed out that my “stick-built home” — aka frame house — is not as safe as a manufactured house. Could be. Not a single one of the letter-writers confident in their safer housing thought to offer me shelter, but that’s what I get for being critical and using such dated terms as “trailers” and “mobile homes.”

I don’t want to tell the industry leaders their business, but I think part of the problem here is semantics. They simply need a shorter way of saying “manufactured housing.” That’s an awkward, mouthful of a description. It’s just not as snappy as it needs to be. Nobody’s going to write a song that goes: “Manufactured home for sale or rent; room to let 50 cents.”

By the way, I thought I used a lot of restraint in the original column by not quoting Jimmy Buffett. That’s what I get for being Nancy Nice.

Then there was mail about what I’ve been feeding my dogs in this time of poisoned dog-food crisis.

“As a liberal do-gooder, you should know that hot dogs aren’t fit for human consumption or canine consumption, either,” one fellow wrote.

I had said that while commercial dog food is suspect, I’d been giving my dogs pretty much whatever we eat. And, I’ll admit, we do eat the occasional hot dog.

I suspect the letter-writer was more worried about my politics than my dogs, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. To help him rest easy, I should say that Mabel and Boozoo don’t exist on a diet of hot dogs only. They’ve also had ham, roast beef, hamburgers, chicken and Boston butt.

Last night the dogs ate L.O. Bishop barbecue. Without the sauce.

And, finally, there was an avalanche of political hate mail after I suggested that Newt Gingrich was testing the tolerance of the religious right and the presidential political waters by admitting what we all already knew anyway. That he’s a big fat hypocrite.

Newt said, yes, he’d been having an affair at the very same time that he was leading the impeachment crusade against President Clinton.

“Newt never claimed to be perfect,” someone wrote. “It takes a real man to admit he’s made mistakes. Jesus was the only perfect man. Newt has more character than Bill Clinton. Newt never had sexual relations with a woman who was not his lawfully wedded wife (while) in the Oval Office.”

Only because he wasn’t there.