I can’t say much about the poison ivy email someone gave me when I was a reporter because it was just too sexually explicit.
It was a written by a young woman who couldn’t type. Back in the old days that was newspaper shorthand for an unqualified female political hire. She had been given a job at the N.C. Department of Transportation and she was writing to another young woman, obviously a confidant.
She told her friend how much she liked her job, how she didn’t have to do anything. And she talked about the state senator who got her the job, a senator she knew intimately. She said she had seen him a day or two before, on her way back from the beach.
The guy had a serious case of poison ivy, she said, and she described the infected area in great detail.
I knew my newspaper, The News & Observer, wasn’t about to publish her email, not in a million years, but maybe I could get the gist of the story in the paper. Anyway, it would be interesting to see what the DOT spokesman had to say.
When I showed him the email he looked distressed but he said nothing, not a word, regardless of how I phrased my questions. And then he asked, “Can we go off the record?”
I wasn’t going to get an on the record comment, so I agreed. I was as curious as you may be — did the senator know the cat was out of the bag?
He did indeed. The senator had heard about that email –bad news travels fast — and telephoned the DOT spokesman.
“He asked me if I had seen it, if I had a copy,” the spokesman said. “I said, ‘Yes.’ And he said, ‘Read it to me.'”
“And I did.”
And what was his reaction, I asked?
“The senator said, ‘Well, I guess that puts to rest rumors that I’m a homosexual.'”
Postscript: I did get a sanitized version of the story in the paper but, alas, not the senator’s reaction. That was off the record.
Coming Friday: The E-Light Club