Brotherhood of the Probable Pummeling


Imminent death. That's what I expected the day three Theta Xi brothers discovered I was the person behind a particular weekly sheep comic strip.

It was in college, right before writing class. And in my comic's storyline a few weeks before, I'd made a cheeky reference to the Theta Xi fraternity and our woolly friends.

It was a common enough campus joke, hearkening back to some unfortunate Sheep Violation Incident in the fraternity's past. (Unfortunate, mostly for the sheep, as I'd heard it). Anyway, the comic got printed and I thought nothing else about it...

Until I had to drop off a new strip after class.

Well, the Theta Xi boys... there were at least three of them in this course. Three largish guys I didn't know very well. And when one of them spotted the drawings, he nudged the two other fellows, drawing their full frowning, squinting attention my way.

I swear, stormclouds rolled in and thunder rumbled overhead.

The central Theta brother leaned in to me, eyes narrowed, as if trying to burn my face deep into his memory. "YOU draw that comic?"

I tried to will myself invisible, but remembered too late that that had never effectively worked. "Yes."

I think I could have finished War and Peace in the painful pause that followed-- which wasn't even appropriate, as Russian literature was covered in an entirely different class.

And suddenly, the clouds parted. Golden sunshine beamed in through the classroom window and a bluebird lit on the windowsill.

The Theta Xi brother offered me a broad, radiant smile, reserved normally for toothpaste ads and game show hosts. "I love that comic! You know the one where you mentioned Theta Xi?"

"Er... I'm familiar with it..."

"I have that on the door to my room. Don't I, guys? Don't I have that taped to the door of my room?"

Yes, yes, they all agreed he had it taped to the door of his room.

I dabbed the sweat from my forehead and neck, careful to not dampen my comic's panels and make the markers run.

This was my very first bit of audience feedback.

So tell me, fellow bloggers and creative-types, has your work ever gotten response from a very unexpected audience? I'd love to hear about it.

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12 comments:

Da Old Man said...

I wasn't worried. Pummeling by frat brothers wasn't covered until Thuggery 301, so I knew you were safe and the story was going to turn out just fine. Plus I've heard about Theta Xi. Isn't their motto, "Theta Xi, where the men are men, and the sheep are nervous?"

Sorry--that was baaaaaad.

Jenn Thorson said...

DaOldMan- Ah, I'm glad I didn't have you TOO worried! Also, you probably figured out whatever injuries I might have sustained weren't affecting my blogging. :)

PS- the motto you suggest may very well have been close. As an alternative, might I suggest-- "Theta Xi-- If there's a wool, there's a way." :)

Greg said...

So I guess in that decades-long pause, he was trying to remember the word "love"!?!? That's a fun story.

I've had garden compliments from unexpected quarters, but nothing so memorable as your frat boy story.

Jenn Thorson said...

Greg- Heh, in retrospect, I think he was probably trying to get over the look of terror on my face, as I was fairly sure I was about to be done for. :)

The garden merits compliments-- it's looking really nice, especially since so much of it migrated with your autumn move!

Jay said...

LOL - that's a very funny story! I bet you were glad you'd owned up once you got that feedback!

To answer your question, yeah. One of my sons found and commented on my blog last week. Darn it .. now I'm gonna have to be MUCH more careful what I say!

Jenn Thorson said...

Jay- Indeed I was, but it was touch-and-go there for a minute!

Ah, so the son didn't know his mother was a blogger, eh? Well, your stuff is funny, so really, he SHOULD be telling his friends how cool his mom is now-- right? RIGHT?! :)

bob said...

oh yeah ... my former sister-in-law.

i did a little post on bad breaker uppers of which i appointed her the queen.

um ... she didn't appreciate it much, emailing me to claim "the nerve" (except she chose to use ribald language, which i can't share with your fine readers).

Jay said...

But now I can't talk about him on it! LOL!

Jenn Thorson said...

Bob- Heh- I bet you screen your comments now. :) Sounds like a cold front came in over Cranelegs Pond. :)

Jay- Ah, yes. Well, you CAN, but dare you? Perhaps you can develop all of his stories into that of a new character-- some separate shemp to take all the abuse. Some fake cousin who's come to live with you...

Hey, I'm trying to help. :)

Claire said...

A more important question, where any of these chaps attractive? :)

Do you have any of these comic strips in their printed form?

Not sure about unexpected audience, they haven't revealed themselves to me yet! :)

Jenn Thorson said...

Claire- At this point, I only remember the one guy well. He was okay, just not my type. :) I wasn't much into the frat scene.

I think I do have the comics in an album somewhere. I'm not sure where exactly.

Claire said...

Frats rhymes with ...... I presume :)

Find the album :)