Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The worst of Steven Hyden: Shacking up in sin really, REALLY ticks people off

Sometimes you write something you know will make people mad. Politics, religion, abortion, these are the topics that are virtually guaranteed to stir up a caulderon of hate mail.

Then there are the stories that tick people off by accident. My Under 30 column from Feb. 13, 2004, for example. I intended the column to be a sweet Valentine's Day piece about how I was working up the courage to propose to my girlfriend. (I did propose, she said yes, and we had a perfectly horrible five-month engagement. Ah, the sweet nectar of love!) I normally don't write sweet stuff, so I figured readers would eat this up like chocolate-covered cherries. I was wrong. A vocal minority hated the column, apparently, because I wrote about living with my girlfriend out of wedlock and didn't beg for forgiveness.

I ended up on the Letters to the Editor page every day for two weeks. After a while, people started ripping other columns from the same period. In a way, it made my local reputation as a columnist. People still think I'm hated by our readers because of this one column.

Here's the column, which I think you'll find is pretty mild. I'm also posting some of the letters and calls we got about it.

THE COLUMN:

A couple of weeks ago I learned a valuable life lesson: If you go to Jamaica with your girlfriend, you must propose marriage at some point during the trip.

I did not know this. Apparently I am the only person in the continental United States who did not know this. In the weeks leading up to my trip, at least a dozen people sidled up to me, poked me in the ribs and said, "Soooo" with a sly grin. I just stood there stupidly while they nodded and gave me that I-know-what-you-are-up-to look.

Then it occurred to me: Hey, Steve, you are going to a romantic paradise with your special lady friend. People must be expecting you to pop the question. Boy, are they dumb or what?

Alas, I did not drop a ring in Jamaica. (When I do, I promise you will be the last ones to know.) But I have been forced to confront the marriage question like never before in the past few months. I shouldn't use the word "forced" because it's not like I'm being threatened with bodily harm or Janet Jackson's right breast if I don't comply. In fact, this is the first time in my life where marriage seems like a real possibility, if not a certainty.

{dcIdc}WARNING: The remainder of this column is inappropriate for children under 13, pregnant women, people with heart problems, the elderly, small pets and most imaginary friends. Please exercise caution. The Post-Crescent is not responsible for any brain damage that might result from reading the following passages.{dc/Idc}

For lack of a better term, I have been living in sin with the lady friend since the fall. And it's been great. She definitely has been the best roommate I have ever had. She's usually in a good mood. She doesn't leave half-eaten bowls of cereal on the coffee table. She flushes the toilet after she's done using it. What more can you ask for?

Let's just say I "like like" her and leave it at that because there's nothing more boring or nauseating than hearing about how much some guy loves his girlfriend or wife, even on Valentine's Day eve. Nothing worthwhile ever has come out of a mushy boyfriend's mouth. While it is always better being in a good relationship than not from a personal standpoint, the reverse is true artistically. That's why hit country songs today stink compared to hit country songs from 30 years ago -- the former tends to be about being in love while the latter is about falling out of it. Which song would you rather drink beer to?

Everybody knows that when you move in with somebody, you are stepping into the on-deck circle for marriage. The co-habitation time is spent preparing for the batter's box. You swing your bat, check your cleats, do some stretches and basically get your head right before facing a series of 100-mile-per-hour fastballs.

Of course, being in the on-deck circle means fans are going to heckle you. In this case, the fans just happen to be your friends and family members. Everybody wants you to rush. "Hey batter, propose now! What are you waiting for? We want a husband, not a noncommittal 20something son!"

Being a professional single man, I don't let the hecklers get inside my head. You can't rush your swing. You might pull a quad, get hit by a pitch or even strikeout. You can't let that happen. After all, if everything works according to plan, you only should go to bat once.


THE RESPONSE:

I am writing in regard to the column by Steve Hyden that appeared in the Friday, Feb. 13 P-C.

I found this column to be very inappropriate and not necessary for publication in a so-called family newspaper.

The column, in my opinion, glorified living together without the benefit of marriage. As Mr. Hyden put it, "The cohabitation time is spent preparing for the batter's box."

In a time when this country is facing issues such as premartial sex among teens and where we preach abstinence to our children, we have a newspaper column written by a young man glorifying living together and equating it to facing a pitcher and making sure you get it right before you go for the home run.

I have also found other columns by Mr. Hyden offensive. However, this was, to me, the worst.

Please reconsider the material that's published in your newspaper and realize that not everyone takes living together without marriage as a test run.


***

Steve Hyden's Feb. 13 column is not appropriate for a family newspaper. Can you help me understand how this column conforms to your stated principle to "serve the public interest"? The public interest is not served by the promotion of non-marital cohabitation.

Both "under 30" and "over 30" readers have better taste than to want to read material such as this. Please do not print non-newsworthy, morally detrimental material such as this in the future. Thank you.

To Mr. Hyden: It is bad enough, sir, that you are "living in sin." To voluntarily put it in the paper goes beyond unacceptable. In addition to having no shame or judgment, have you also no class and no taste?

How did the girl, her family and your family feel about this public airing of your prenuptial escapades? Do you simply lack the creativity to come up with a useful idea for a column? Please, sir, if you must write about matters such as this, I would thank you kindly to write in your diary and not in my family's newspaper.

Imagine please, as you are preparing to write the Feb. 13, 2032, "Under 60" column, reading about your "under 30" daughter shacking up with a boy who, lacking the moral integrity and self-respect to save what is sacred for marriage, also lacks the judgment to keep his private matters private and furthermore lacks the respect for your daughter to not advertise her foolishness.

I pray that any children you may father will have more wisdom because you grew up to be a man who provided them with wisdom.


***


Harry Dorman wrote an excellent letter to the editor regarding Steve Hyden's Feb. 13 article. I have been reading Mr. Hyden's articles regularly and thought he wrote in an interesting manner. However, the article flaunting his "living in sin" appalled me, as I'm sure it did many others. I also intended to write a letter, however, I could not have expressed my feelings any better than those written by Mr. Dorman.

Please add my name to the growing list of people who are disturbed by the Steven Hyden column. Thus far, he has degraded Christianity and condoned drunkenness and cohabitation. Why have him in a family newspaper? This is the ideal for the "under 30" group? I think not.


***


As Steve Hyden continues to write insensitive, offensive articles in his Under 30 column, one can only hope he will soon be 31.

12 Comments:

Anonymous kbl said...

Wait. People live together before they get married? Next you're going to tell me that men like to hold hands with other men and the Earth is more than 6,000 years old.

Who wants to get together for a good, old-fashioned book burning? We can set fire to Harry Potter and use Under 30 for kindling! I'll bring the Bibles and the God Hates Fags signs--who wants to be in charge of that yummy jello dish with the marshmallow bits in it?

Those with Liberty University ID cards get to light a special Charles Darwin effigy.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Those are the people who have been kept in the dark about their children and grandchildren who are cohabitating with a non-spouse. I know because I did it. Hiding it isn't fun. Telling it isn't fun either. There is no happy medium. Basically we're being coached to lie to them. They're happier that way.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Krista said...

My jaw hangs open. There are no words.

3:54 PM  
Anonymous rebizzle said...

i just hope your children posess more wisdom than you, you heathen.
you disgust me. i cannot believe you would write about your life in a family newspaper.
you are disgusting and deserve to be shot. somewhere where we all can watch.

that, my friend, is family fun.

4:00 PM  
Blogger mark said...

ok i remember this when it happened, and you sent some of the email to me, or .. somehow i read it.. doesn't matter anymore.. but yes it still upsets me as much today as it did then.
thanks for pissing me off again.

:)

4:14 PM  
Blogger klhp said...

Apparently, their sarcasm button wasn't activated before reading the column.

I was living in Chicago at the time of this incident, so I completely missed it, but that's awful! Again, I say you're the refreshing part of the P-C.

Hmm... P-C... Post-Crescent, politically corre - waaaiiit a second!

7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is how I feel when reading your blog:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=TTwgNhX4BSo

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's the point of "shacking up" anyway? Just get married! You know that's not healthy for a relationship and if you can't do it for yourself, at least do it for the kids.

10:02 PM  
Anonymous C said...

All of that was definitely interesting. I'm not against people living together before marriage, but you kind of set yourself up for this. You specifically put in the article that you were "living in sin", did you think people would happily agree and not say anything? What you wrote about is a typical topic for people under 30, but maybe it wasn't quite appropriate for the newspaper.

10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my friends took a Psychology course about families. She said the majority of couples who live together end the relationship before getting married, even if they are engaged.

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What DOES happen when you turn 30? Have your editors discussed that yet?

9:09 AM  
Anonymous elise keaton said...

Loathsome.
It's the only word that comes to mind.

Male and female relations are a blessing given to us by the almighty. And as customary, "vows" are to be exchanged before its acceptable to the almighty to share bills and have items come to the same mailbox -- it the only moral way.

What do your parents think? If you loved your parents and respected morality, you would have engaged in male/female relations and then sent her home TO HER OWN APARTMENT!

No going to a shared refrigerator afterward to grab two slices of shared bread and a slice of shared bologna topped with shared mustard.
That's just sinful.

4:43 PM  

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