It's amazing, but true. I receive fan mail.
For example, the other day I received the following note from someone named Lester. Lester seems to think that I need help walking the fine line between making a point and pissing off the entire fifty percent of the world that calls itself female:
"What you need to understand, Dartoid, is the difference between art and pornography. In art, the nudity of the woman is examined in terms of the shape and beauty and texture of the female form, with no consideration to any titillation that may be excited in the viewer. Whereas, in pornography, the nudity of the woman is examined solely in terms of the titillation that may be excited in the viewer, with no consideration to shape and beauty and texture of the female form. Also, she's doing something unspeakable with a duck."
Thank you, Lester. I will remember this. I promise.
Then there was the letter from Frank in Sarasota:
"Hey, Dartoid. You remind me of Bob Green ... the way you reminisce sometimes about old times. One of my fondest memories is the time I was locked in a shed. Trapped in total darkness. I cried and yelled and banged on the door for hours. But nobody would let me out. So I decided to build a battering ram out of shovels and old paint cans and tractors and whatever else was laying around. After a few hours of work, I completed my battering ram and barged my way out into sweet, glorious freedom. It was a powerful, beautiful moment and one that I shall treasure always even if, on reflection, it occurs to me that I may very well be thinking of an old 'A Team' episode."
And thanks to you, Frank. I will remember this too. Just wait and see.
Sometimes I receive mail from people in far away places, like this message from Jayson Ranoa in the Philippines:
"Hi Mr. Dartoid. I suddenly read your articles while searching for Paly Island. Did you actually get there? I am returning home this April and thinking of planning a knockout trip in Palawan. Can you further describe this island, its beaches, accommodation and access? By the way, I am currently going to university in Japan. My hometown is Bohol Island. Have you heard of those Chocolate Hills?"
Occasionally I even receive a letter from someone I know to be an actual darts person. Last December I found a nicely handwritten note in my mailbox from Paul Benson (otherwise known as "Bzork") in Florida:
"Greetings Dartoid. I used to be a decent dart player but I pretty much stink up the joint now. Here's a CD called World's Apart by a group named Blue Zen. Please give it an honest listen. The lead singer, Irene Wertley, can SING, and she's a sweetie to boot. Any help you can give me in getting others to hear this music would be appreciated. I can be contacted at BigDaddy@Funkybitch.com."
Many thanks, Bzork. I've listed to it. I liked it. Here's your plug!
Sometimes people actually comment on one of my columns, as did Ron Zazo from Saginaw, Michigan:
"Hello Dartoid. I really enjoyed your article on assholes. It made me think and reflect on myself. I have a few regrets over the past six years of throwing darts. I once punched a board after missing a game shot. Another time I almost punched one of my team mates in front of many darts players in the middle of a tournament. I know I was once an asshole, but I've changed. So can anyone."
A while ago I received a letter from Bull's Eye News writer, Bruce Gerber's brother, Kenn. I met Kenn once in Singapore. Just like me, he travels all over the world with a dart board in his suitcase. He's nuts.
Hi Dartoid. Just spent some time in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Thank God I brought my own board. Discovered the hottest darts venue in the city was at the Asia Pacific Guest House. Room 305 (my room). I left the board on the wall so ask for Room 305 next time you're in Bangladesh. Also, I was in Bangkok in March. Bruce told me I had to do something in honor of your dog, Colby's, passing. So, I performed the Colby Memorial Grope. My introduction of "this is for Dartoid's dog" was met with polite smiles and "khun puut wa aria Ka ... chan mai kow chai" by the ladies. Also, seriously, is it true what you wrote? Did you actually LOSE a game of cricket to my little brother? How did you do that?
Thanks Kenn. Yes, I lost to Bruce. He cheats.
Sometimes I receive newspaper clippings that make no sense. There was one about a Shetland pony named Tilly who gave birth to a zebra. Another about some students in India who set their veterinary college instructor on fire because he wouldn't let them cheat during exams. Just last week a clip from a Tampa, Florida daily arrived in my mailbox. It was about red-bellied piranhas, tarantulas and vampire bats.
Numerous times I have been sent a clip about poison dart frogs. Once I opened up an envelope to find an old Sally Forth cartoon that had something to do with inflatable dart boards.
I've often wondered just how to work into my column these ideas which well-meaning readers have taken the time to neatly cut out of the newspaper and send to me. Now I know. And now I can throw all this crap away.
Frequently I am sent very specific, though sometimes way-out, suggestions for what to write about. But just as frequently I don't have a clue what to actually do with the suggestions.
From a bloke called Nigel in London I received a copy of a story marking the 20th birthday of the world's first test tube baby, Louise Brown, who just happens to throw darts. "I might have come into the world a different way to my friends, but in every other way I am the same. I like to go swimming, to the pub, drink lemonade and play darts." So I'm supposed to knock out 1,500 words on in vitro fertilization and darts? Sorry Nigel, but darters -- in America anyway -- do it the old fashioned way.
From someone named "Bub" in Pueblo, Colorado I received a full-page weekend feature story about bad-girl figure skater, Tanya Harding. "I've been through the worst. But I leave the past in the past. I'm a grown woman. Cigarettes, things like that - hey, well, it's not that big a deal. I still play pool and I like darts." I actually initiated an effort to get in touch with Harding. But I had second thoughts. If the truth be known, she scares the hell out of me.
Beyond shoving ideas like Nigel's and Bub's into this column, I really don't feel qualified to make proper use of their information. The thing is, I'm pretty sure there is a money-making opportunity embedded in them somewhere, at least for the right promoter. So, yesterday I popped the clips back into an envelope and sent them with a note to the best promoter in the whole wide world. My idol actually...
The way I figure it, if America is willing to flick on their televisions to watch Harding duke it out in the boxing ring with Paula Jones then the whole of England should be ripe for a little one-on-one at the oche between their test-tube baby our trailer-park trash.
No doubt about it. Tommy Cox can make this HAPPEN!
Sometimes I receive correspondence from real, live, famous people.
For example, following a column I penned about a Sports Illustrated article that slammed the sport of darts, essentially painting the whole lot of us as nothing but a bunch of boozers, I received a very supportive note from Roger Carter. If anyone out there knows who this guy is please contact me.
Another famous person, Cyberdarts' Rick Osgood, once sent me something about brass darts. Apparently they are actually an alloy that includes three percent lead. Apparently also, some manufacturer is planning to label all of their brass darts' packages with a message that informs consumers of this fact. Osgood's point? Despite statistical evidence to the contrary, I guess it was that darts actually can be dangerous - if you suck on them long enough.
Two other famous people wrote to me recently, the American Darts Association's (ADA) Glenn Remick and Phil Jones from the PDC (which, contrary to the opinion of some, stands for the Professional Darts Corporation not Please Don't Criticize). Remick wrote to let me know the great news that corporate heavyweight, Coca-Cola, has signed up as a sponsor of the ADA's new military leagues and their national championship. Jones wrote to let me know that he added my name to the "current list of tutors to the possible showgirl markers" at the upcoming Las Vegas Desert Classic. Frankly, as fabulous as Remick's news is, I think Jones' is better.
Once I received a fictitious listing of high school football players, with funny names and credentials, who had supposedly signed Letters of Intent to play for the University of Southern California. For example: "Tyrone 'Python' Pebbles. 6'7", 180. Wide receiver. Has manslaughter suit pending but feels confident. Says: 'Da bum say somethin' bad 'bout my momma.' Lists IQ as 20-20." Attached was a note that read: "Here's an idea for a story - you clown." It bummed me out greatly to see that it was signed by my father.
But the most remarkable piece of fan mail that has arrived at my home was actually addressed to my wife, Marylou. It was sent by Kevin Berlyn, who I didn't even know knew my wife. Berlyn runs the outstanding Australian darts web site, Dartplayers Australia, at www.dpa.dartzshop.com.
"Congratulations Marylou. It must be hard to raise a family and also to look after a very old juvenile delinquent. As a fellow darts fanatic, I know that we only see in one direction, straight ahead on a dart board. It takes a special kind of person, which is usually female, to see past those blinders ... to see the man behind the darts. As the old saying goes, sort of: 'Behind every good man is a great woman but behind every male darts player there is a bloody saint. Well done."
So thank you to all of you for your cards and letters and useless newspaper clippings. Next time send money.
And ladies, remember: if you ever find yourself alone a shed, stay away from the duck.
From the Field,