Aug. 23 2011 07:20 PM

The death threat against David Letterman has me confronting my own self-image issues

Edwin Decker
So, this week’s column is about the fatwa-like death threat against David Letterman for sayi—waaait a minute! What the hell is that!? At the top left of this column? Is that my picture up there?

Holy Kee-rist, what an abomination! It looks like the profile of a bovine-semen collector who inappropriately enjoys his job too much. And what is that extra fold of skin just beneath my left eyebrow? Is that eyelid fat!? Kee-rist in Heaven, I never saw that before.

There are so many reasons why I can’t stand having my picture above my column, some of which have nothing to do with the fact that I am ugly and old. Here are the top five:

• No More Identity-Denying: Every now and then, a stranger will approach and ask, “Are you Ed Decker?” Sometimes I say “Yes” in spite of the possibility that the asker will stab me in the face for writing an unflattering missive about his sister’s vagina. Other times, I deny my identity—not necessarily because I fear the wrath of Sir Sister-Vagina-Avenger, but because there is a likelihood—especially if it’s a drunken bar encounter—that I will be subjected to an hour-long reprobation of my writing skills, and/or an impassioned sermon about all the things that are wrong with my political opinions, and/or a screed about why I should stop bashing religion, all of which will be followed by a request that I write about his “totally awesome band,” The Attention Whores. So, um, yeah, CityBeat, thanks for that.

• No More Fly on the Walling: One of my favorite life-moments is the rare occasion when I stumble upon somebody who is in the process of reading my column. I love that! The last time it happened was in a Mexican-food joint. A couple in their early 60s were sitting at a neighboring table, reading it together. They were taking turns pointing out certain parts and laughing. When finished, I embarked on my usual undercover ego-recon mission: “Pardon the interruption,” I said, “but what are you reading that’s so funny?”

“It’s a column called Sordid Tales,” the man said, lifting the paper to show me the cover. “It’s in CityBeat magazine.”

“What’s it about?” I asked.

“It’s about the writer getting fired from his bartender job,” the woman responded. “It’s pretty funny.”

Well hot damn! I thought. They like me. They really like me! It’s a feeling that never gets old. But now that my goddamn face is up there—complete with quinquagenarian wrinkles and disgusting eyelidulite—I can kiss any future undercover ego-recon missions goodbye. Thanks CB.

No More Man of Mystery: I used to receive a certain amount of flirtatious emails from enthusiastic and, let’s say, libidinous ladies. Well those days are over, too. See, when my picture was not on the column, an enthusiastic, libidinous lady was free to imagine me as whatever knight-on-a-white-horse, movie-star, hero, hunk, lifeguard and Marlboro-Man-of-her-dreams man she always dreamed about. It is for her that I grieve.

Even my wife loves the columnist-me better than the actual me. When she reads it, she fantasizes that it’s written by a totally yoked, college-age pool boy who comes over to clean the Jacuzzi we don’t have. Thanks a lot, CityBeat, for crushing what few little moments of joy W. had in her life.

• Parent Killing: Until now, I’ve been able to confound my mother and father into believing that the Ed Decker of Sordid Tales fame—the booze-slurping, drug-sopped porn-monger with the sense of humor of a high-school freshman that got left behind a time or two—is not the same Ed Decker as the one they raised. When they realize it was me all this time, their brains will likely burst, so, thanks for killing my parents, CityBeat.

• Ideological: I’ve always felt that columns which contained an image of the author diluted or distorted the effect of the words within. It’s the same way I felt when MTV debuted in 1981. I remember seeing Mark Knopfler’s goofy face and scrawny body for the first time and saying, “Huh? That’s him!?” The guy responsible for some of the most smoldering guitar pizazz of all time is wearing a Miami Vice patio jacket, neon-pink headband and glowing orange leather pants as if he were Sonny Crocket’s bi-curious lover on the down-low.

And I damn near dropped the bong the first time I saw Def Leppard in—oh, Kee-rist, say-it-ain’t-so—leotards! Now, it’s important to note that those early Def Leppard albums were respected, hard-rocking recordings, released long before big-hair glam had even been identified as a genre (largely because, without MTV, nobody knew they wore makeup and big hair in the first place). When I finally saw the video of them wearing leotards, eyeliner and an osprey’s nest of twigs and straw held together by a quart of Aqua Net on their heads—well, let’s just say I wasn’t able to masturbate to my Olivia Newton John poster for three months.

I never listened to those bands in quite the same way again. And now, I fear, you’ll never read these words in quite the same way, either. Although, admittedly—from a reader’s perspective—I do prefer seeing the face of the author. There’s something organically appealing about that, and I fully understand why the CityBeat overlords want to include our photos. I just can’t stand looking at mine, not in the least. 

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