Sunday, February 17, 2008

Readers of St. Louis Magazine agree: I'm awesome.

This past week, the good people of St. Louis Magazine (in whose February issue yours truly is profiled) ran a poll on their most excellent web site about the awesomeness of my column. Check out the poll question and results:

In “Bob Rybarczyk Doesn’t Mind That You Hate Him” in our February issue, executive editor Matthew Halverson paints a poignant portrait of the love-’im-or-hate-’im online humorist, whose column appears each Tuesday at How do you yourself react to Rybarczyk’s “Suburban Fringe”?

Loathe it—what a schmo
Not exactly James Thurber
Frequently fun and funny
Love it—go, Bob!

The way I see it, I have a 79% approval rating. That's higher than George Bush's last three years combined. I think.

What bothers me is that 11% of readers loathe it. If 11 out of every hundred people who read my column this it's awful, why aren't they telling me? I love hate mail.

By the way, I tried to copy/paste the pretty graphic from the STL Mag web site, but I couldn't figure out how to do it on my overly fancy wireless Microsoft keyboard. *shrug*

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bad Boy Mailbag.

So this week I wrote about how women always have a thing for the "bad boy" type, and that it sometimes makes us normal guys mental. (If you haven't read this week's Suburban Fringe, go check it out here. Otherwise all the mailbag stuff below isn't gonna make a ton of sense.)

I don't always get a lot of e-mail from readers, but I did this week, and a few readers had some really interesting things to say.

I'll start with Jay, whose cynical outlook borders on old-fashioned woman-hatin':

I once posted some cynical thought something like this somewhere:

Having a wife means a lifetime of being told to grow up. Act your age. Get your mind out of the gutter. She convinces you to satart acting like a responsible adult. Giving up skydiving. Selling the motorcycle when you have kids. She gets you to agree to no more poker night with your buds. And you actually stop looking at other women. You become a good dad to the kids and you take your job seriously, start dressing like a professional, nurturing a career and trying to make something of yourself.

And then, eventually, the day comes when your bride of many years tells her friend, “You know, I'm not sure what it is with my husband but he sure isn’t as interesting as he used to be.”

Sorry. Told you it was cynical.

Hardcore, dude. I get the feeling Jay could probably use a hug or something. I get the feeling Jay and this next e-mailer, Mark, would really enjoy sharing war stories over a beer or two. Here's Mark's tale.

After getting married and having a child, my wife and I realized that, if we were going to have a comfortable standard of living, I should go back to school while keeping my day job. I finished the schooling, got a big promotion and great raise, and started wearing a shirt and tie to work. Things were going well. I got another promotion, my wife was able to cut back to part-time work, spend more time with our now three kids, buy a home, newer second car for wife...the American dream. Fade to black!

We were out to dinner with another couple, and my wife says she wishes I still had my pick-up truck and wore workshirts and jeans and could run home at lunch like I used to when we were first married. Wishes I would grow my hair out longer, despite my creeping hairloss, or get a hair transplant. The other couple, speechless, looked at me. I responded that I wanted the slender, blonde, 5 ft 10, always-happy woman I had married 12 years before, but that I wasn’t 26 anymore and was grateful for what we had today. Lead balloon!

We’ve been divorced 14 years now and she continues to make her new husband’s life impossible.

Mark is kinda my hero now.

Perhaps my favorite e-mail of the week came from a dude who insisted I refer to him by his professional name, D-Rok.

Your article rang true to the depths of me. I am one of the “bad boys” you mention in your article. My nickname is “D-Rok,” for cryin' out loud. I tour with some of the largest shows, around the world, and women love it. They love the fact that I’m connected to rock-n-roll artists. They love that I travel so much, that I’m more comfortable with a rolling suitcase than an armoire. They love the fact that I call them while backstage with the music strangling any sense of conversation, or from a city they’ll probably never get to visit. They love the shiny silver chain on my wallet, the big throwback cuff watch, the ever-present leather motorcycle jacket and the hair that never seems to be groomed. They love the Harley-Davidson and the 1972 Mustang Fastback. They love to listen to the stories of far-off lands and events so far out they should only happen on cable television.

And they love to go home to normal guys like you.

Women don’t actually dig bad boys. They dig the idea of bad boys. I’ve been married once and had more girlfriends than I can remember, but none of them stick around for more than one holiday. As exotic as our lives are to women, when presented with the reality of having a man who isn’t around for weekend movies and random shopping excursions, and lives a lifestyle in which women will do “anything” to get backstage, they run for the suburbs where "threatening" is nothing worse than bad traffic and the nightly news about North County. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard “I wish you were around more” or “Your lifestyle is too much for me to handle” we could buy the Post and turn it into… whatever the hell we wanted to.

That blues guitarist was singing the forlorn truth of a “bad boy” in his ballads of loneliness. Guys like me will always have women around, and we will always envy guys like you who always have ONE woman around.

Funny how the grass is greener, isn’t it. I’d say more, but that just about says it all.

I like D-Rok, because he makes me feel better about myself. But, dude, maybe next time you spend an evening with two 23-year-old groupies in a hot tub, do me a favor and snap a few pictures. Then I can, uh, show them to Colette and point out to her how pathetic and skanky the girls are. Or something.

The final mailbag thought this week is by far my favorite one. It's from a reader identified only as "dsparkie37."

Us "normal guys" don't consider you a "normal guy." We consider guys like you metrosexual yuppie douchebags.

Actually, "Metrosexual Yuppie Douchebags" would be a great name for a band. Don't you think?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

So far, not a bad Wednesday.

So things aren't too bad today. Well, the day is young, so you never know, but so far it doesn't completely stink.

This week's column is #2 on the most e-mailed list. Pretty excited about that - last week's debuted at #5 and ended up as high as #2. With a little luck, maybe this week's column will hit that magical #1 spot.

I know, this is really only exciting for me, and not such a big deal for you. But I appreciate your reading this far. And if you read yesterday's column and enjoyed it, I appreciate that as well.

I also found out recently that thus far I've sold 61 copies of "Acoustic Kitty" as of the end of January. I'll admit, that was a disappointing number. I guess I was hoping for sales of 150 or so in the first month. But, it is only the first month, and considering it's only being promoted through my column and this blog so far, I suppose I shouldn't be too discouraged. My goal is still to get it published through an actual publishing house, get a little distribution, and maybe sell a whopping 500 copies. We'll see.

I'm hoping that the book will be available at Left Bank Books soon. I dropped off a copy there last week, and they said they would likely offer it for sale, but that the person who handled commission sales there recently quit and hasn't been replaced yet. So I'm waiting for them to hire a new commission sales person. I'll be patient. If I do manage to get the book offered for sale there, I'll be sure to let you guys know.

That's it for now. Gotta dive in to work. If you haven't read this week's Fringe, which is titled "We Normal Guys Hate That Our Wives Dig the Bad Boys," go check it out. I think you'll like it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

#2 isn't as fun today.

So, my column is #2 on the most e-mailed list this morning, which is cool, because it spent a day at #5, then #3, and now #2.

But, given the tragic news from Kirkwood that's all over STLtoday this morning, the most e-mailed list thing seems entirely unimportant.

Here's hoping the mayor recovers and that the families of those lost are getting as much support as they need. That shooting happened just a few miles from where I live. Really awful stuff.

Look at me, I'm Urban.

So I got an e-mail yesterday from a regular reader named Brian. He said that he had submitted the term "Man Mode" for addition to something called the Urban Dictionary. I'd heard of the Urban Dictionary, which is an online dictionary of all the words and phrases that people really use, but never show up in an actual dictionary. Examples include "January Joiner" (joins the gym in January; over it by February) and "Gangsta Lean" (a common driving position in which the driver holds the wheel with his left hand while leaning to his right toward the passenger seat, usually bobbing his head or bumpin' with the beat).

Anyway, so Brian said that he had submitted "Man Mode," a term I invented for this week's column, for addition to the Dictionary. Lo and behold, today it is an official listing. Check it out. Pretty cool. Not as cool as, say, landing a speaking part in the next Bond movie, but still kinda cool.

Essentially, I'm taking over the Internet, one page at a time. I figure I'll be done by the year 4472.