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An Open Letter to Dave Barry

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Dear Mr. Barry,

Where to begin? I suppose the most logical place is this: I swear I am not making this up.

I’ve been a fan of yours since I lived in Miami in the 90s. Your ability to sum up the absurdity that is South Florida while maintaining an air of unwavering loyalty always brought a wry smile to my face: It might be crazy, but it’s OUR crazy.

I saw you play as part of the Rock Bottom Remainders one year at the Miami Book Fair. The show was in what appeared to be an abandoned warehouse on not-yet revitalized South Beach. It still ranks as one of the most enthusiastic live performances I’ve personally witnessed. There is no denying that you were having a blast, power strumming chords to that perennial crowd favorite, MacArthur Park. Hahaha – just kidding! It was La Bamba. And possibly Wooly Bully.

I’ve taken part in the Tropic Hunt and the Post Hunt. One of the only overt exhibitions of civic pride I ever witnessed in Miami happened when the crowd united in anger against a team from North Carolina that won the Tropic Hunt one year in Coconut Grove. I’m pretty sure the winners were ferried to an undisclosed location across Biscayne Bay in order to give them a head start in fleeing the city ahead of an aggrieved yet highly motivated mob. Woohoo, Miami!

I proudly (word choice?) performed as part of the Kazoo Processional that led guests to dinner at our local Chamber of Commerce Signature Event the year that you were the Guest Presenter. Let’s just say I am not one of the world’s naturally-gifted kazooers: to this day I have no idea if my cheeks hurt so much afterwards from steadily sustained laughter or from honking out “When the Saints Go Marching In” eighty-seven times in a row.

I’ve read several of your books, most recently Peter and the Starcatchers. I’ve laughed out loud at your columns, especially the Year in Review and the Gift Guide. However, if forced to choose one of your most notable literary achievements, it would have to be the naming of the title character in Naked Came the Manatee: it’s hard to go wrong with a manatee named Booger.

Recently, a friend wrote to tell me that you were coming to Annapolis, Maryland for a book signing of your newly released Insane City. I was excited all the way up until I remembered I’d committed to making a presentation that day, clear on the other side of the state. Even though Maryland isn’t Florida, where travelling across the state can take up to three days depending on traffic in Orlando, it was still enough to prevent me from making the event. My friend magnanimously offered to get a copy of your new book signed for me.

The following Tuesday, I entered my office to discover the book sitting on my chair. I was elated and extremely grateful. Rumors suggest I may have run a celebratory lap around the first floor of the office with the book proudly held over my head.

On Thursday I brought the book home. I took it out of my bag – worried about it getting crushed or torn there – and placed it in the middle of the dining room table. The large dining room table. My husband and I went to dinner and returned less than ninety minutes later to find the book laying open on the floor. The cover had been removed and – how shall I put this? – artfully redesigned by Shiloh, Mischief Dog. He even ate part of it.

Here’s a photo of Shiloh refusing to look at the camera when confronted with the Evidence of the Crime.

photo (14)

Now I don’t mean to start any trouble, but the copy of Stephen King’s Wind Through the Keyhole sat on the same table for several days, untouched. Shiloh also ignored a copy of the Post Magazine, temptingly opened to the column Gene Weingarten wrote for the 2012 Post Hunt. In Shiloh’s defense, we’d only had him for about a month at that point, so it’s entirely possible that he wasn’t yet aware that the table existed.

Even so, I think you’ll agree that the evidence is crystal clear: he loves your writing SO MUCH he decided to eat it. In the words of Maurice Sendak, “I’ll eat you up, I love you so!” He’s a pretty deep dog with what appears to be a rare appreciation of excellent fiction.

It is, however, equally plausible that he loathes your book. Alternately, he may have confused it with a dog treat. Or a plush squeaky toy.

photo (25)

He’s kind of difficult to interpret, when you get right down to it.

Sophie, our Main Dog, was appalled by the entire episode. If she had opposable thumbs, she’d waste no time in contacting her congressional representative and formally requesting legislation to reclassify Shiloh as a cat.

The good news? You’re in excellent company. Shiloh has also eaten a paperback  and nibbled the corner of Terry Pratchett’s Nation audiobook cover, both on loan from my the Howard County Library System.

That brings me to my request. No, I do not need you to send me another signed copy of your book. I’d be delighted to buy myself a replacement solely for the cover, or even to enjoy the copy I have sans cover but lovingly drooled upon by my misguided yet well-intentioned rescue dog.

If you happen upon this message and are so inclined, I’d like to ask you to consider helping to promote our local libraries. They are top-notch, but – as with all libraries – there are programs that need support in order to continue. I’ll be raising money this weekend as a Celebrity Bartender during Evening in the Stacks, their annual fundraiser that supports two exceptional programs: A+ Partners in Education and Project Literacy.

And who knows? Maybe one day Shiloh will be ready to take part in their DEAR Program (Dogs Educating and Assisting Readers), in which third graders improve their skills by reading to attentive dogs.

But only if we can keep him from eating the books.

In closing, I’d like to thank you for the laughter. It’s made a world of difference. According to this Alert Reader, at least.

And I swear I’m not making that up, either.




I firmly believe that every one of us has something to offer, and that each of us can make a difference in this world. I also believe that it’s vitally important that we not take ourselves too seriously, enjoy life, and have fun.

This Post Has 26 Comments

  1. Word Ninja

    Wow, have loved Barry since I was a pre-teen. My grandma in FL used to rip his columns out of some newspaper insert and mail them to me in Chicago. Bombeck also became a fave. In fact, I had a humor column in a small paper I edited and became known as the Erma Bombeck of Beecher. Also, not making this up. 
    Re: Sendak and eating things. He told a story in an interview about a little boy who was so excited to receive a letter from him that he promptly ate it. Sendak considered that the greatest compliment. So true.

  2. Elijah May™

    Usually, I’d try really hard to come up with something witty to say, but I’m just going to concur with Bob. How can you be so cruel?

    1. Mickey

      Um, because April *is* the cruelest month? You have to be cruel to be kind (another saying that makes NO sense whatsoever)? How about a question for a question: how can you be so trademarked?

      And thanks, Elijah. 🙂

  3. Mike Morucci (@GCGeek)

    Mickey! A fantastic and hilarious post! I’m also a fan. Of Shiloh’s. Dave is pretty funny, too. If it helps, I’ll sign without my last name. Sincerely, Mike Barry. (I never really liked my middle name until now. Don’t tell my mom!)

    1. Mickey

      Shiloh wagged in appreciation and would like you to know that he’s partial to rawhides. Appropriate of nothing, I’ve always had a strange fondness for the name Barry. A result of the Bee Gees? The Manilow? I have no idea. Thanks for stopping by, Mike – hope to see you sometime soon!

    1. Mickey

      Yes, Shiloh entered a new phase of his already mischief-laden existence with this latest episode. In his defense, it was the book jacket, not the whole book. And I’m sure that the drool marks on the naked cover will only add to its overall value, in time. Right? Right?

      It helps to share the absurdities that plague my life, because let’s be honest, they’re pretty silly. 😉 And if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you throw stones at? Wait, that’s not right. Thanks for reading, as always. 🙂

  4. Adam Zand

    Love that Dave Barry stopped by (I hope he donates), but it’s a shame you approved Bob LeDrew’s comment. By the way, is that Shiloh barking at the start of the video

    1. Mickey

      Adam, that Bob is alright sometimes, even if he does lust after my guitar. And the dog barking at the beginning sounds like Sophie more than Shiloh (who has a hound’s lilting bay), but it any case it’s neither. Perhaps we’ll be able to negotiate them in next year?

      And thanks for stopping by!

    1. Mickey

      Jennifer, you make me smile. Thanks!

    1. Mickey

      WB, I’m CERTAIN that your post added significantly to getting my post noticed. Your grace and support are greatly appreciated, and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow night! Thanks so much.

  5. Dave Barry

    Mickey —
    Thanks. I think.
    Dave Barry

    1. Tracy Krulik

      Mr. Barry —
      Thank you for replying to my good friend Mickey. I’d like to share with you that this year — 2013– will be the year that we will not have to to boo you at the Post Hunt, because this year we will WIN IT!

      1. Mickey

        Tracy, I’m pretty sure we’ll have a shot once we add a thousand people to our team and place them strategically ten feet apart throughout the map for the end game. Oops, I’ve said too much.

      1. Mickey


        I mean, it’s totally cool. Whatevs.


    2. Mickey

      Dear Mr. Barry,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting – a colleague threatened to film my reaction when I read it, which she described as reminiscent of Snoopy’s dancing from Peanuts only with less innate talent and grace.

      Subtle negotiations with Shiloh indicate that he’d be fine with you using his photo as a, um, vivid and fairly unique endorsement of your writing. I think that’s what the tail wag meant, anyway. He was kind of eating at the time (his food, surprisingly, as opposed to a box, the trash can or the dish rack – yesterday’s victims). Our main dog Sophie could not be reached for comment.

      If you have a chance to share the link to the Howard County Library’s fundraiser, I’d sincerely appreciate it. (

      Virtual tips close tomorrow at noon, and I’d love for folks to have a chance to chip in. If they designate me, all the better, but truly it’s about the library.

      Thanks again!


  6. Bob LeDrew (@bobledrew)

    How do you write so funny, so consistently? You must know it fills me with jealousy and self-loathing. Why must you hurt me this way?

    1. Mickey

      Now Bob, we only hurt the ones we…wait. That saying never did make any sense to me. You know as well as I do it’s because I’m mean and evil. Even so, your grudging support is most sincerely appreciated, you melodious socket wrench. (hugs)

    1. Mickey

      Aw, thanks, Buffy!

  7. Amy Vernon (@AmyVernon)

    I love you, Mickey! I have no idea how we nearly crossed paths, but didn’t quite. And wasn’t the Miami Book Fair International THE BEST BOOK FAIR IN THE ENTIRE FREAKIN’ WORLD????

    1. Mickey

      Simply stated: HELL YES! The Miami Book Fair was AMAZING. And it really does boggle the mind how we DIDN’T cross paths. Fate, what’s up with that? xo

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