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While I Am At It, I Also Recommend The Chicken!

February 07, 2007

Around this time of year, I am always approached by people who want me to write letters of recommendation for them. Why anyone thinks that I am important enough to write a letter of recommendation sort of defies all understanding, but I am guessing that those unfortunate people who do approach me with this request are, at that point, desperate, and have whittled their requirements down accordingly. So, instead of, "I would like a letter of recommendation from a well-respected scholar or legal professional" (and I am not a member of that group), they have now settled on, "I will happily accept a letter of recommendation from anyone with a pulse, and who is not addicted to heroin, please God." Now, this second group -- Group Two -- this is the category I fall into. As do kangaroos, Bo, and probably most contestants on Deal or No Deal. This does not say very much for Group 2.

(Also, now that I think about it, maybe it is getting harder to find people who can write you letters of recommendation and do so in complete words and sentences, rather than filling the recommendation form with a dissertation composed in the perplexing language of myspace text-speak, i.e., "Jane v. smart & u shd let hr in yr skool 4 law." Although, now that I have actually typed that out and sort of half-assedly finished the thought, it occurs to me that, wouldn't that...kind of rock? Seriously, wouldn't it be kind of awesome to get a recommendation letter written in textspeak? If I were in charge of the world (see: evil master plan), I would admit the person as a matter of principle. But, I kind of imagine that this is not what the recommendees are hoping for, so I guess I am going to have to restrain myself. And it is hard. And I am, shockingly, totally off my original point, which I shall now attempt to remember.)

But, anyway. So, Spam, who is the man who is married to Cookie, and who is also the man who came up with the Viking Funeral idea, has decided to go to law school, where he will gleefully set his opposing counsel on fire and toss them in a cooler out on Lake Lanier. Because at least some of that sentence is true, he needs some letters of recommendation, and he asked me to write one. And that is no problem, because I like Spam, and Spam is smart, and it is not difficult to write a recommendation for people who (a) I actually know, (b) I actually like, and (c) are actually smart. Those recommendations are easy pants! On those recommendations, I can actually think of things to say other than "His tee-shirt collection is both extensive in number and unparalleled in variety," or "I am pleased to report that recently, this candidate has apparently been showering more frequently."

But, I got to thinking when I started writing Spam's letter, and I started to wonder how, exactly, one could compose a letter or recommendation that actually served to un-recommend someone, but which did so in a way that made it kind of hard to tell, on first glance, that the writer kind of thinks that the person is a twit. Anybody can write a letter that says, "DUDE, Bob SUCKS, his work SUCKS, he smells like a TIRE that has mated with a wet DOG, and he spreads a pestilence of evil wherever he GOES." It takes something more, I thought, to write one where the twit reader says, "Huh...okay, good, I guess!" but anyone with at least a mild IQ is laughing uncontrollably, and thinking, "Dude, that guy must be a total fucking asshole. I am going to burn his application as an offering to the gods."

Anyway, I was sort of inspired by this thought, but I was ten times more inspired by the thought that, hey! I spy an opportunity to fuck with my friend Spam! Because, seeing as he is not an idiot, he will read the letter and know it is not nice, but he will also wonder if I have actually sent it off and now he is stuck with a recommendation that makes people want to shower after reading it, and HA that is funny to me, particularly when it is really, really late at night. Which it was, when this idea was conceived. ( Which I know comes as a total shock to everyone, seeing as I have apparently given up sleep for the duration. Hi!)

So, as soon as the actual, glowing, compliment and accomplishment-filled letter was actually written and mailed, I sat myself down and wrote a second letter. And then I printed that letter on professional letterhead, made a copy of it for Spam, and sent it home with his wife, along with the message that I am always happy to help a friend in need, because I don't know if he knows this or not, but evidently, I am some kind of saint.

Now, I have to say -- I liked my fake recommendation letter. I liked it kind of a lot, and so I got to thinking (again, with the "got to thinking" crap! What is with me today? Either I'm stuck on writing in legal mode, or I'm talking like I don't wear me any shoes) that there were probably other people in this world who have faced the predicament of being the non-recommendy letter writer, and maybe they need my help, and hey, MAYBE that is the thing I was put on this earth to do, is help those people by giving them an example of a professional-sounding, but wholly meaningless, recommendation letter. And because I am not someone who likes to fuck with Life's True Purpose (although, did I ever tell y'all that one time I decided that my Life's True Purpose was to get a tattoo of Johnny Cash on my backside, only I would get the tattoo of a young Johnny Cash, and then as I wrinkled, he would wrinkle, and we would grow old together in harmony? For about sixteen minutes in 1999, this seemed like the best idea ever had by anyone at any time, even better than the wheel or Oreo cookies, and thus, I concluded it must be my Life's True Purpose, but then I called my dad to inform him of the path God and Johnny had chosen for me, only he threatened to have me written out of the will, so instead I went to law school, the end), I hereby share this letter with y'all, the people who join me, kangaroos, and Bo in the illustrious Group 2, and who just can't find a professional way to communicate the fact that the guy you're writing about has the IQ of a spatula. You are my people, and this is for you, so allow me to present:

(Names changed to protect innocent people who set babies on fire for fun)


Members of Some Fancy Ass Committee
More address
City, State
Code of Zip

RE: Letter of Recommendation for Spam Babyburner

To the Members of the Fancy Ass Committee:

I am writing this letter at the request of Spam Babyburner, who has applied for admission to your law school. I hope the following proves helpful as you undertake the difficult admissions process.

I have known Spam for some amount of time, and I can honestly state that, if you are looking for a student like Spam Babyburner to attend your school, then Spam Babyburner is your man. He will absolutely meet your expectations for someone with his qualifications. Furthermore, the abilities and skills he possess will satisfy any requirements you may have for those particular skills and abilities. In addition to everything else, Spam has both interests and hobbies, which he enjoys on some occasions. And, in some limited ways, those interests and hobbies could potentially help Spam to increase in both skill and ability, thereby enriching him as a person.

Spam has numerous accomplishments, including some attendance at both educational establishments and in the professional world. In both places, Spam was continually well known for his various attributes, and clearly met even the lowest expectations for success. I don't think anyone expected less of Spam!

To conclude, having known Spam for an amount of time, I can tell you that there are few people like Spam in this world. As such, Spam is a unique individual, and a far cry from other people who are not precisely the same. I am sure that his uniqueness will make quite a difference at your school.

For the above reasons, I again offer you this letter of recommendation, and I thank you for your time.

Miss Doxie

P.S.: Spam sets babies on fire.


(If you did not guess, the P.S. is both optional and awesome, and absolutely present on Spam's letter. Probably it will not be so applicable to the rest of y'all, unless there is something very, very bothersome that you have not been telling me.)

So, in sum: this may only be funny to me, but the next time someone asks you for a letter of recommendation? You just might thank me then. Or maybe, you will still not think this is funny, in which case, please blame it all on exhaustion and we will just forget that any of this ever happened.

Except, of course, for Spam, who is not likely to forget that he now owes me Reprisals. So, tune in soon, Tokyo, so we can all find out whether Spam set me on fire in a styrofoam cooler. And until then, everyone have a good day! GRP 2 4EVR!

Posted by doxie in General Whining | permalink


"Spam Babyburner" has now become my very favorite-ist name, ever!

I your postings!

Posted by: Linda | February 7, 2007 05:51 PM

wait - that's supposed to say I "heart" your postings - sigh - *must* learn to use the preview button!!!

Posted by: Linda | February 7, 2007 05:52 PM

I think Spam Babyburner should be his new IM screen name.

And I am SOOOO filing this letter o' passive-aggressive recommendation away for future use.

Posted by: Pammer | February 7, 2007 05:53 PM

Very funny. I tend to be "honest" in my recommendations. And when I'm not sure about someone it's a lukewarm recommendation. Thanks for your help with those.

Posted by: Hannah | February 7, 2007 05:55 PM

It would be really cool and easy if we could just IM recommendation letters, with emoticons to boot! :)

Posted by: hello insomnia | February 7, 2007 06:07 PM

Mmm...definitely have to get you to write my next letter of reccomendation ;-)

Posted by: Heather | February 7, 2007 06:25 PM

Doxie's back!!! Woohoo! With letters of recommendation, even. You MUST update accordingly when you hear of Spam Babyburner's reaction. Can't wait.

Posted by: Hillary | February 7, 2007 06:26 PM

This made me laugh out loud, in my office. I love your writing, you're very funny!

Posted by: Kait | February 7, 2007 06:35 PM

I think I am going to name my first child Spam Babyburner

Posted by: Aerandir | February 7, 2007 06:47 PM

If only I could use THAT method when writing sorority recs.....the entertainment level would go from "sucks ass" to "stellar" in a matter of seconds....or even better, YOU could just write them for me and I could sit and listen and drink vodka straight from the bottle.

Posted by: Louly | February 7, 2007 06:55 PM

Love the Johnny Cash tattoo idea. Love. It. And Spam Babyburner? That will be in my head like Olympia Dukakis!

Posted by: Sara | February 7, 2007 07:09 PM

I very much enjoy your generic letter, and am reminded of how I got burned by a recommendation from a law school professor--I'd worked with this guy for three years; he was the faculty advisor for the law journal I edited; I was also on his moot court team. And, despite all this contact, as far as I know, he did not, in fact, hate me. So one might think that perhaps he might be a good person to write a glowing letter of recommendation when graduation loomed.

The letter itself was generally fine, but one sentence remains burned in my mind seven years later: "She is very competent."

I know, in his old-fogey-speech, that this was high praise...but on the page? It made it seem like I was juuuuuust able to dress myself and string a complete sentence together. Thanks, prof!

Posted by: Jen | February 7, 2007 07:15 PM

Your letter is funny, but this was better...

"although, did I ever tell y'all that one time I decided that my Life's True Purpose was to get a tattoo of Johnny Cash on my backside, only I would get the tattoo of a young Johnny Cash, and then as I wrinkled, he would wrinkle, and we would grow old together in harmony?"


Posted by: Stacy | February 7, 2007 07:21 PM

gawd. please tell me that Spam's response will be recorded here.

or will we find out when we hear that Bo has been set on fire?

Posted by: chirky | February 7, 2007 07:50 PM

Dying to hear Spam's reaction!!! You're a scream.

Posted by: dcrmom | February 7, 2007 08:09 PM

Thank God & all that is holy that I didn't read this in the office. Hysterical!

Posted by: Shawnee | February 7, 2007 08:16 PM

This kinda makes me want to walk around with a sign that says "Ask me to write your letter of recommendation."

Posted by: mouse | February 7, 2007 08:34 PM

Girl, you should sniff noxious burning styrofoam fumes more often, if this is what comes out of it.

Louvre it!

Posted by: Cassiopeia | February 7, 2007 08:45 PM

The Johnny Cash thing pretty much made my day. I just wrote a comment regarding your essay about law school but it wouldn't let me post it! So here, have a comment about the entry regarding law school.

I've gotta say...I went through a Phase last November, during which I made pretty much everyone I know read (the law school story). My prof (for everything, thank you community college paralegal program) thought it was awesome and announced to the class that if I yelled bingo and fell over laughing, I was, in fact, laughing at them. I'm in civ pro now...hate hate hate. Every time we come across an attractive nuisance in any class, my prof says "Like an unlocked liquor cabinet!" And we laugh. For this, I have to say thank you.

Posted by: Sue | February 7, 2007 10:27 PM

But you *are* a well respected legal professional!

Ok, I'm gonna admit I know your last name. (I promise I'm not a stalker, but you went to my law school! You were 2 years ahead of me, but of course I remember you.) And so I was very happy for you when I saw you listed as a big up-and-coming Super Lawyer (or whatever it's called) in Atlanta Magazine!


Posted by: cammie | February 7, 2007 11:01 PM

Tune in Tokyo! I'm ready for another Orbital Bebop Dance Party right now. I've been practicing my moves and wearing a grasshopper hat.

Posted by: Veronica More | February 7, 2007 11:39 PM

Ah, wonderful letter but just missing the useful sentence I use in all references for former members of staff who weren't particularly enthusiastic about their duties, namely "You will be very lucky to get Lazy McSlob to work for you."

Posted by: LyndaL | February 8, 2007 05:53 AM

Johnny Cash tattoos and psycologically screwy recommendation letters go together like peanut butter and jelly. UCMU *VEG*

Posted by: Tripping Daisy | February 8, 2007 08:00 AM

That letter of recommendation is splendid! Dear lord there are so many people for whom it could be penned. The very favorite one I ever received was from a former boss who wrote:

"She's a wonderful person, despite the fact that she is Hungarian!" It was a goof by a very nice former boss who was a tad twisted and I did have another really nice letter from him, but you know what - I frequently used the "Hungarian" letter instead!

Posted by: Gayle Miller | February 8, 2007 11:20 AM

hee! A friend of mine linked to your journal a while back and - lazyass that I am - I've only just caught up.

Love the letter of recommendation, and must add: Spam Babyburner is possibly the best name ever created.

And love the rest of the stuff, too. I live with a doxie meself - his name is Cookie, don't ask, I didn't name him - so I really get a kick out of the dog tales[tails? them too, I suppose] along with everything else. ^_^ and the Bad Wiener! stuff on the shop site? Adorable. Yes.

Posted by: Raine | February 8, 2007 01:09 PM

...and meant to say: the Viking Funeral post? Inspired me to try to figure out how to give my recently deceased iPod [he died Tuesday, in a manner calculated to piss me off] a Viking funeral. but alas I have no cooler, no lake, and most importantly, no stuff to blow shit up with. Damn.

Posted by: Raine | February 8, 2007 01:11 PM

This is hilarious, although my ConLaw teacher, did not think my smothered giggles were quite as amusing. I am sure that Spam will be soo soo grateful, as any person with his abilities, interests and unique quality must be.

Posted by: Jes | February 8, 2007 01:18 PM

Maybe you should sell those at your store! Put the copies on some fancy paper (read: crumpled with ketchup stain) and sign them. I would turn one in for Grad School ASAP.

Posted by: Kanigget | February 8, 2007 02:35 PM


Posted by: Scottsdale Girl | February 8, 2007 04:21 PM

Wow, Doxie...I wish you had posted that a few weeks ago. I've been writing a zillion recommendations in the past month, and that letter would have been MOST helpful in a few cases. The P.S. nearly made me pee my pants! Thank you for a much-needed laugh!

Posted by: Leesavee | February 8, 2007 06:54 PM

I can't wait to hear about his response!!

Posted by: Jenny H. | February 8, 2007 07:08 PM

Poor Spam. Damned with faint praise and named after fake meat. The guy just cannot win.

Posted by: Contrary | February 9, 2007 07:44 AM

You have no idea how timely this post was.

I am an adjunct professor at a small university. I am an adjunct because I can not stand all the crazy stuff that full-time profs have to do (the committees! the meetings! the work!)

Yesterday, not one but *two* students asked me for recommendation letters. I was thinking "when will I do this, when I have 34 exams to grade and 15 costumes to design (yeah, I teach costume design, among other very useful things) before these letters are due?

Now I know. I'll use yours! Miss Doxie, you are sent by angels! :)


(No I won't. But I am sorely tempted.)

Posted by: Julie | February 9, 2007 12:01 PM

Wow, that is THE most non-specific thing I have ever read! Love it!

Also, Johnny Cash was hot back in the day... and that deep voice! *sigh* Now I've got Ring of Fire in my head.

Posted by: DippyChick | February 9, 2007 01:36 PM

Delurking to say "Love. It!"

I've given the following recommendation:

"If you are searching for a canidate a particular work ethic and attitude, Pissy will not disappoint."

I think we could fit it into your letter somewhere, right?

Posted by: Maria | February 9, 2007 02:29 PM

Man, I would be so great at writing up textspeak recommendations. I wish someone would just ask me dammit. I'll have to work on that.

Wtg w/ bated breath 4 Spam's reply!

Posted by: Angel | February 9, 2007 08:35 PM

Oooooo, like the tattoo idea. I may opt for Keith Richards on my bum, however. He's so butt-ugly (sorry....couldn't resist!) that he makes even my sorry ass look good. Thanks for the giggles!

Posted by: Sharon | February 10, 2007 03:59 PM

Wow...with friends like you... ROFL My husband hates it when I laugh at the computer and he really hated as I read your "letter". *giggle* Poor Spam...although since it was his baby burning idea I think he deserved it. =D

Posted by: Megan | February 11, 2007 01:09 AM

when i was first asked to write letters of recommendation for people i didn't wholeheartedly endorse, i would write things like "this letter of recommendation is for [applicant], whom i have known for X years. i understand that [s]he is very eager to attend your law school. sincerely, ..." i think the recipient could pretty much figure that out.

as i am now older and therefore more crass, i flat out tell kids i really don't think will cut it that i am not the best person to recommend them, citing some creative reason i have concocted. they believe me since i am an insider, and no one gets hurt. heh heh.

Posted by: dgm | February 11, 2007 08:05 PM

Both Miss Doxie and this comment:

"Wow, that is THE most non-specific thing I have ever read! Love it!"

Crack me directly up. Thank you for the laughs!

Posted by: Tasty | February 12, 2007 10:01 AM

That so totally reads Recommendations by Mad-Libs lol Awesome in its vaguery.

Posted by: scraps | February 12, 2007 11:47 AM

Wonderful! It will be my future template. :)

Posted by: Laura | February 12, 2007 05:31 PM

I love the recommendation letter!

I also love your new stuff on Shop Doxie. I scooped up that pretty hair pin just now. It is all mine!! I wish I could buy one of the adorable doxie paintings. I hope you will be putting more up, and I also hope you will make some t-shirts.

Posted by: Tartine | February 12, 2007 07:20 PM

de lurking to comment on your shopdoxie site, my whole family LOVES everything you have for sale. When we win the lottery, we will buy out absolutely everything!! My 12 year old daughter loves your stories, yes I edit some of the words..she says that under the description of Bo on your shopdoxie site, it should also say.."Grandma's little angel" (Bo make pie?)

Posted by: Berta | February 13, 2007 09:44 PM

Your post is very timely 'cause, guess what? I just found out today that my letter recommending someone got them into law school! I was glad to do it for this guy (it's the first time I've been asked so I was kind of tickled), but will keep your letter for future possible requests.

Posted by: Shawna | February 13, 2007 10:29 PM

Very funny. Reminds me of the post I did with a Non-motivational "letter of motivation"

Posted by: Jennifer | February 21, 2007 04:40 AM

I recently wrote in a recommendation letter for a student that "her skill in the art of diplomacy will be well-deployed in this position, because she’s quite adept at telling colleagues what they need to know – and do – in a supportive, constructive manner." Translation: She will not hesitate to tell you to eff right off with a plunger when need be.

She's a fantastic kid. Got accepted into three different grad schools, including VU. Ha!

Posted by: grandefille | February 27, 2007 04:19 PM

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