Open Letter to the Popular Kids
(If you’re a friend, or even just a super fan, of Kel Campbell, I might be addressing you)
I graduated high school as salutatorian in 1991. During my four year journey to that graduation, I earned a spot on our internationally celebrated high school dance drill team my sophomore year (they didn’t accept freshmen). The team competed in Japan my freshman year, and then traveled somewhere else awesome and abroad the year after I graduated. I might have gone out of my way a little to avoid even knowing the destination of that trip. Maybe. Because in between Japan and No Name Land, I also managed to miss out on two choir trips to the lower 48, AND I missed my family’s trip to Disneyland because I couldn’t miss an important performance. You know, right fucking there at home.
I’ve always had the misfortune to show up five minutes too late to the party, so in no way does the situation in which I currently find myself surprise or baffle me. Usually, I gather context clues and do my best to piece them together. I’m fairly accurate a lot of the time, so this approach has worked pretty well for me. It allows me to avoid asking a lot of questions (my least favorite use of time EVER.) And I really tried that method here, but I’m just getting more confused.
I had only just gotten to know Kel Campbell when she left the Medium platform. And to be clear, I mean as a writer. I was getting familiar with her style and her flow and her interests and I really, REALLY enjoyed what I read. On a personal level, she is a complete stranger to me.
Let’s back up a bit: For a few weeks, when I was just dipping my big toe into this writing shit down where someone might actually see it thing, I thought Kel was a dude. I don’t have any good reasons except for Kel being the name of that guy who acted in the Good Burger movie with Keenan, and the fact that I was doing some really distracted reading. The first piece had something to do with Ben Affleck and matching tattoos, so...
I’m not sure why Kel’s pieces kept being dropped into my inbox; perhaps I followed her a while back when I created my account, but never wrote anything. Perhaps I followed a publication in which she happened to be frequently featured. In any case, at some point I had an “A-ha! Kel’s a SHE!” moment. Which changed nothing at all, except I figured it out by reading rude, asinine responses from a couple of men. Seriously, I HATE THAT SHIT like I hate Nazis.
The last piece I read by Kel was about her response to having a door opened for her, and I loved it, because I’ve written about one of my greatest annoyances as well.
It’s about crossing the line between manners and sadism: Men who open a door when you’re NOWHERE FUCKING NEAR IT YET. And they wait, holding it open-looking all put out and irritated, mind you-while you finish the second half of your marathon (because FUCK, now you feel like you have to speed walk or they’ll think you’re unappreciative of their chivalrous show).
I was responding to that piece (not about the sadists; I figure she knows that shit already) about how difficult this whole door-opening REALITY (because, seriously, it is something boys are brought up to do for girls) has been for me as a mom. I never know what to train him to do in a door-situation. I’ve kind of settled on offering to hold the door for his elders (people mom’s age and older, pretty much) regardless of gender, when passing the same direction through the same door. When passing through a single door, hold doors that open away from you, and get out of the way of doors opening towards you, and allow the other party to open those. Regardless of gender. We had to have these parameters because my son walks around COMPLETELY in his own head 23 hours a day and would just walk through people and into doors all day if I didn’t assign a general order.
So, anyway, I was mid-response via shitty phone and somehow erased all progress. Since I didn’t have time to retype it right then, I made a quick note to go back.
And when I went back (which could have been a week later, for all I know…time is not my strong suit), Kel was gone.
And there were all these angry words about what had happened, and I tried to piece it together from the angry words but I don’t understand the big picture.
I’m not a veteran writer. My exposure to things like plagiarism and copyright infringement can all be traced back to a single two week unit on the subjects in my ninth-grade language arts class.
I know Kel wrote a piece, and then some asshole (because legal issue or not, only an asshole would KEEP THAT SHIT UP HERE, knowing all of the upset it resulted in) wrote what he claimed was a parody of that piece, and then she left, and Medium something something and other bits and pieces something something else and
I’m fucking lost, and y’all are giving me PTSD from my high school trauma of always being the only fucking person who didn’t know what the Hell was going on. What I would REALLY like to be able to do is look at both published pieces, just to understand what happened (and also, to make sure I never make THAT mistake, because I would HATE sitting in that guy’s shoes these days).
I want to understand the ethical issues here that drove an enormously talented veteran writer with OMG THAT VOICE and the adoration of an entire community to straight high-tail it the fuck outta here like her ass was on fire.
I’m always just so happy anyone sees anything I write that I can’t even fathom having an actual fan base or a following like Kel does here. But I’d still like to possess the knowledge to be able to tell when I’m being taken advantage of as a writer. And it sounds like, in a nutshell, that is what happened here.
Could one of you cool cats just write a little synopsis?
Like I’m five, okay?
Like I’m five always works best.