April 25, 2009

Dumb Man Tweeting

Most days of the week, I listen to a program on my local public radio station called Think. It's been one of my favorites since it first aired a few years ago, thanks to the amazing host, Krys Boyd, who interviewed me on the television version of the show last year, in what was ultimately my favorite media appearance. A few days ago, I turned on the show to find that the guests were Jake Heggie, a composer who wrote a celebrated operatic version of Dead Man Walking about ten years ago (which is being performed in Fort Worth next month), and Sister Helen Prejean, the memoirist and activist who wrote about her early experiences as spiritual advisor to death row inmates in Dead Man Walking. Both the opera and the movie are based on her book.

Sister Helen has been one of my heroes, ever since I was in college. Until that time, like a lot of Americans, I hadn't given the reality of the death penalty much thought. I don't think I was even opposed to it when I was young. It seemed clear to me, you know? Someone kills, they deserve to die. Reading Prejean's book and especially seeing the movie, I realized that the issues are much more complicated than that. I eventually became a committed opponent to capital punishment, even attending a few protests and, much later, helping exonerated death row inmate Kerry Max Cook during his book tour. (That experience was sort of a beating, culminating in being rudely shoved out of the way by Robin Williams. At least I got a good story out of it.) Put simply, Sister Helen Prejean was a driving force in opening my eyes to a cause that I have come to believe in deeply. She's one of my personal heroes.

So when I saw, via a feed from the radio station, that Sister Helen was on Twitter and had posted a message about the show, I immediately sent her a tweet. (God, I hate using that word. I feel like I'm turning into Elmo every time I say it.)
  • @helenprejean Thought it was wonderful! Also, you're one of my heroes, which feels like a weird thing to say on Twitter, but there it is.
It felt good to be able to say that to her. And yet, something was bugging me about it. I imagined her receiving it and thinking "Oh, who is this nice person who just said this to me?" And then I imagined her clicking on my name to see what else I had said on Twitter. I clicked the link myself, and I looked at my previous message, the one that she would see if she looked at my feed.
  • A farting pug is driving me out of my own apartment. That hardly seems fair. I hope my central nervous system will restart with fresh air.
Yeah. Impressive.

I posted a message to my feed, because what is Twitter if not a place to showcase my bonehead moves?
  • I sent a twitter message to one of my personal heroes, only to realize that my previous tweet mentions dog farts. (This hero? Is a nun.)
Yesterday morning, when I checked my messages, I saw that I had received one from Sister Helen. And so when one day Schuyler is old enough to talk about the death penalty with her father, when I can show her the film and even give her a copy of the book and tell her how much I've admired the work of Sister Helen Prejean, I'll be able to tell my little girl that once, I actually received a personal message from Sister Helen herself.

If pressed, however, I'll have to confess to Schuyler that the message said:
  • Dog farts don't bother me. Well, mentioning them doesn't! Thanks for the tweet.
That's right. Fellow memoirist? Death penalty opponent? No, thanks to the magic of social networking and my crumbling short-term memory, Sister Helen Prejean was introduced to me as "the dog fart guy".

I'm swell.


Linda Ball said...

I saw the opera. A lot of modern opera leaves me cold artistically. This one? Absolutely fantastic.

I'd say Rob is tame compared to folks the good nun works with.

Linda Ball said...

Also....candidate for test title ever. Not that you're dumb. Not.

MFA Mama said...

I just laughed my ASS off at this one. That is so awesome. I would frame the screenshot. Best. Tweet. Ever.

Disabled NYC said...

People get the wrong idea about nuns. They're not all knuckle-rappers or spiritual ascetics; many of them are surprisingly down to earth and have a great sense of humor. I visited a relative at her convent a few years ago and one of the other nuns was wearing a football jersey and cheering her team on in front of the television. At dinner they all wanted to hear about my sister's collection of ghost stories. And apparently several of them had major crushes on Harm from JAG; they showed off an autographed picture of him with his arms around a couple of them.

Julia O'C said...

She is a very cool lady. I would have been shocked if a dog fart comment had offended her.

Anonymous said...

"Dumb Man Tweeting"......still snickering over that one!

StaceyEsq said...

Long-time blog reader laughing!

Leightongirl said...

I really think you've sealed a placed in Heaven. Assuming it exists, that is.

dudleysharp said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dudleysharp said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marc said...


buds if your going to leave something that long in a comment, do us all a favor, blog then link it, that was interesting but painful.

Rob Rummel-Hudson said...

I just sent the following email to Mr. Dudley Sharp, who apparently has a Google alert set for "Helen Prejean". He left two gigantic pro-death penalty comments totaling just over 4500 words. (My original post was 675 words.) If he'd like to link back to his own blog somewhere, good for him. But that was just obnoxious.


Mr. Sharp

I'm deleting your comments on my blog. If you'd like to come back and post a link to your site, that's fine. But that was obnoxious, and if you'd bothered to read the blog entry, you'd see that it was also inappropriate. If I post something that is actually about the death penalty, by all means, come back and spout off. But that wasn't the place for it. I wasn't even really talking about the death penalty, I was just telling a dumb story that happened to involve Sister Helen Prejean. Your comments were about SIX times longer than the actual post you were commenting on. Reading them made my eyes bleed.

Seriously, dude. You might want to sit down, enjoy a ritalin milkshake and settle down.

-- rob

Melissa said...

I met her back in the 90s when she came to speak at my college. She's a very laid back, down to earth lady. I'm pretty sure she got a kick out of it.

dudleysharp said...

Dear Rob:

Thank you for your kind note. It was thoughtful of you to inform me of my posts deletion.

For a review of Sister Helen Prejean's death penalty work, please go to the first reply to the article, at


Iselyahna said...

So, stupid question; where's the link to follow you on twitter? ^_^

Alison said...

Ritalin milkshake? Where?!?!

Annie B. said...

Just laughed harder than I have in days. . .reading the post AND the comments.