Hey, why have a blog if you can't brag on it from time to time, right? Today in Slate, Jack Shafer explores the incredible phenomenon of the NY Times' "What Shamu Taught Me About Marriage" article, which has topped the web site's most e-mailed list dating back to at least the Carter administration. The Times piece itself I found unremarkable and obvious, and like Shafer I long held a theory about the enduring popularity of animal articles and relationship features -- which I guess is not exactly a revelation to anyone who pays attention to the Times' "Most e-mailed" chart (1. "How to Calm Your Dog with Cell Phone Ring Tones" 2. "The Stepfather: Perils of Dating Your Mom's Ex-hubby." 3. "Lupe, an Abyssinian, Finds Comfort in the Meatpacking District", etc.). Shafer traces the Shamu article's astonishing popularity to the way the author andheadline writer combine both "mundane" mainstays -- animals and relationships. That's probably right.
But maybe readers just took to heart the column's thesis? What then? Upon re-reading the piece today, I realized something: the basic premise was employed by a post I made six months back, in an open letter to my girlfriend (whose resemblence to my actual girlfriend, if any, is purely coincidental -- except when it's not). We both say: Ladies, quit the nagging and instead try a little lovin'. A little positive reinforcement may very well turn that caterpillar of a boyfriend into a beautiful butterfly. Or something.
Sure, my post was labored while the Times' piece was breezy and charming. But genius advice is genius advice. And you fifteen loyal readers saw it here first.