Save The Byronic Man

July 15, 2012


I’m writing this from exile.  Banishment.  I have been forced from my home and now travel about, trying to post from whatever café I can find.  If you are reading this, you are part of the network that keeps me connected to the world I once knew.  Yes, I am a tragic figure around whom you should definitely rally, and start Facebook campaigns, and make shirts, and use your inflated concern for my well-being to hit on college students.

No, I have not been banished from my home because I dared to speak truth about our political system, or angered a terrorist organization.  It is tomato plants that have led me to this sorry fate.

You know, that Marcus Aurelius joke is really not too shabby. Might be worth the google search to get is all I’m sayin’.

In a display of bizarre reasoning that would make Marcus Aurelius shriek and tear his hair out, the following has happened: my mother-in-law decided she wanted to clean out her garage.  She wanted my step-father-in-law to help, but he spends most of his time in a different town that’s about 2.5 hours away (Status: It’s Complicated).  He said he couldn’t help because he has to water his tomato plants once a day.  And there is apparently no one in the area qualified apply water to tomatoes, including his brother, who lives about 1 mile from him.

Okay, to be fair, his brother is about 92.

So, we’ve had to go to this other town and stay there, so that we can water his tomato plants.  We can’t come home until the garage is clean.  I’m like a hostage!

My wife’s entire family are putterers.  Going to the bank can take two hours. They are also gatherers.  Her garage is like a hay-bale maze of boxes, furniture that “might be perfect someday,” a woodstove, and old soda bottles.  All this means I may not be home for a long time.

And yes, the house we’re staying in is in the middle of a big orchard, about a quarter mile from a beautiful river, and it’s quiet, and the weather’s been really nice.  This changes nothing!  I am like a political prisoner!  This is dramatic!  People get fired up about stuff like this without knowing the details for other people, it’s time to do so for me!

It’s like a prison. A prison of hazelnut trees with a gentle breeze blowing through them.

Do you realize this orchard is so secluded it has no Internet?  Not even on a 3G network?  To put up yesterday’s post I had to drive for an hour (including about 43 minutes where we were lost because we missed the exit, but still…).  There’s no cell reception (which, okay, I’m cool with; I hate answering the phone).  There’s basic cable, but it’s blurry.  BLURRY.  And I finished my book yesterday lying outside under a tree, and after falling asleep for a while, so now I don’t… I don’t… I don’t even know what to read next.

I’m sorry.  I’m not ready to talk about it.  Maybe if a talk show made a sizable offer I could, perhaps, find the strength?

So what’s to be done?  What dramatic action should be taken?  What cool slogans and logos should be created?  Where should donations be sent?  For the Weekly Question of the Week:  What action should be taken to raise awareness of my plight?  Occupying something?  Boycotting things?  Wearing things?  Falling asleep under trees in solidarity?  Remember, the more outrageous, the more effective it will be.  The less logical, the less people can argue against it.

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Blog in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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95 Comments on “Save The Byronic Man”

  1. 1pointperspective Says:

    I read your post with my mouth hanging open in shock and disgust over your undeserved plight. Hazelnut orchards! Be strong, hold on to what you believe in – don’t let it get to you when locals call it a filbert orchard. I pray the filbert weevils do not come this season.

    On my part, I’m going to try to enlist Hollywood to support your cause. I’ve already left word with Miley’s people, and it sounds like she’s up for getting a tattoo for the cause. It will be some arcane quote that you made years ago, about something or other. Between the location of the ink and the fancy Elizabethan script, no one will ever be able to read it. The tabloids will pick up the ball and run with it, and you’ll get big exposure. Also Ed Asner has agreed in principle to doing a public service announcement with Wilfred Brimley about the dangers of filbert weevils and America’s plague of cluttered garages. Just to show my personal support, the next time I make chilled asparagus in a tarragon/hazelnut vinagrette, I’m going to use less hazelnuts than usual. I’d cut them out entirely, but they really make the dish.


  2. on thehomefrontandbeyond Says:

    I am so sorry for your plight–I am saying a silent prayer for you as I type this. but also very jealous of the fact that you can take no phone calls – I too hate answering the phone–if nothing else let this soothe you into another nap in the orchard


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I think I need phone-therapy, because literally every time it rings I roll my eyes and mutter something like, “Guh. NOW?” as if every moment of my day is the worst possible moment the phone could ring.


      • Go Jules Go Says:

        Yes! I HATE the phone. (I was going to mention that before, but jumping in here is way more fun.) It’s the uncertainty that kills me: How long is this phone call going to last? What if it lasts FOREVER? Like, actually, forever. I’ve never been to Disneyworld! I’ve never seen the Eiffel Tower! Make it stop ringing! Oh, hi Mom. No, I’m not busy.


        • earthriderjudyberman Says:

          My hubby, Dave, used to roll his eyes when the phone rang and I’d just stand there to see if the ID indicated it was someone I knew. We’ve really cut down on the nuisance calls – political and/or those begging for money.
          As for your torment, Byronic Man. I feel your pain. Maybe the phone banks that I refuse to answer will take up your call for help … I’m mentally sending good vibes your way.


          • The Byronic Man Says:

            If someone calls, and it’s not a number I recognize, they have about 0.5 seconds to start talking. With solicitors there’s that beat of a pause, and if there’s that pause? I hang up.

            I’ve hung up on my father-in-law several times this way.


  3. Soma Mukherjee Says:

    Oh My God and all this in todays world ..who could have thought that your own people will keep you confined in hazelnut soothing breeze surrounded prison…
    as I read this heart wrenching ,soul stirring,mind rattling write up tears flowed and i knew they have done all this to keep you away from your ever growing cult..also this is racism.
    I have already spoken to some Indian friends there ,they will be reaching your place in no time and shouting slogans like “Leave India” and “freedom from British rule” till you are free..also no matter what your in laws order they will end up getting a curry version of it..even a sushi curry…
    we will not let anyone torture our cult leader…


  4. speaker7 Says:

    “Every person has 1,000 wishes. The Byronic Man trapped in a hazelnut orchard at the mercy of putterers only has one: an internet connection and another book to read. Okay so he has two wishes, does the number even matter? What matters is putting an end to this injustice. Of my 2,425 very close friends, I bet only 3 will have the BALLS to repost this (yes, I’m using all caps–I’m yelling–because I feel so passionately) as their status update. Get some BALLS and do this so we can somehow use the power of our status updates to bring connectivity and a book to that orchard”

    This will be my status update until help arrives. You are in my prayers.


  5. becomingcliche Says:

    I think all your internet brothers and sisters should have a giant tomato sale and use the funds raised to hire a gardener (and maybe a pool boy) so that you can go home.

    We could also “gather” (love how you use that word instead of “hoard” all our stuff and make a giant fort in which to hunker down until you are freed.

    I will also test the theory that two #10 cans and a giant ball of twine will work as well for a game of “internet” as it does for “telephone.” We may be able to get you out of this yet.


  6. jcgator1 Says:

    I say in order to raise awareness to your plight, every supporter should go and pin a picture of you on every hazelnut tree available….with your blog address on it 🙂


  7. She's a Maineiac Says:

    Yeah, yeah, yeah. I feel for you, I really do. My heart breaks for you.

    But how am I going to get my Byronic fix now? Huh? Are you telling me this post might be the last time I hear from you all week?

    My idea: we could all wear SAVE BYRONIC t-shirts to school, then ditch gym class and meet at a designated area in downtown Portland during a huge parade where you can show up wearing a funky sweater vest and we could all dance wildly to Twist and Shout.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      “Ladies and gentlemen, you are such a wonderful crowd, we’d like to play a little tune for you. It’s one of my personal favorites and I’d like to dedicate it to a young woman who doesn’t think she’s seen anything good today – Darla, this one’s for you. Danke schooeeeen, darlin’ danke schooeeen…”


      • She's a Maineiac Says:

        [standing in crowd wearing my Red Wings shirt]
        Ahhh! Get off the float! What are you doing?!

        (you have a lovely singing voice, B-man…)


        • pegoleg Says:

          RIght before Darleron sends her dad’s Ferrari crashing through the glass wall of their garage.

          I’ll have you know that I SAW MB in that parade, and my right sleeve was right next to somebody who actually appeared in the crowd scene in the movie. And I’m not a BIT bitter that my hubby and I took the day off work to hang around downtown Chicago to be extras in that movie and ended up on the cutting room floor. Nope. No bitter.


          • She's a Maineiac Says:

            I am officially extremely jealous of you right now, Pegnacious. Are you SURE you weren’t in that scene? There’s a lot going on there…construction workers dancing on buildings…mobs of people doing synchonized break dancing moves…I’ll have to look it up on YouTube right now and see if I can spot you….


            • pegoleg Says:

              I’ve been through that crowd scene with a fine-tooth comb and the best I could come up with was a very tall, gawky white dude with frizzy reddish blonde hair that I glimpsed for a split second. I was standing next to him. It was interesting how they did it. The parade was actually down State st, I think, and they had the Shriners in their little cars down a side street and the dancers down another street and us, the crowds, down another street. We weren’t even watching the parade! I had nightmares featuring Twist and Shout for months.


          • The Byronic Man Says:

            I’m also immensely jealous. Just seeing that movie for the first time changed my adolescence (really – it was a watershed moment); I’d think being in the presence of filming would cure disease.


  8. k8edid Says:

    If we were any kind of friends at all (as opposed to those dependent on internet connections and status reports) we would gather together, armed with dishes to pass and tools, and clean out that damned garage because you mean that much to us. Instead, I think cupcakes are in order…Message cupcakes, of course. Save the B-Man. One letter on each cupcake…I’ll let you know how they turn out.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      You’ve scored a direct hit on this one. My wife is craving – CRAVING – cupcakes right now. Why haven’t we got some? Because they have to be from a very specific cupcake store. Because of course they do. Beware a foodie with pregnancy cravings.


      • k8edid Says:

        Oh, my. Wish I could help. I really don’t understand the cupcake craze myself. I like a big ole piece of cake – layer cake, none of this sheet cake crap – and a big ole cup of coffee. Man, now I want cake.

        Take solace in knowing that these cravings will pass.


  9. Angie Z. Says:

    I have nothing to offer in the way of helpful slogans, plots, etc. (I’ve been up since 5 am and out of coffee to fuel brain activity…so I have my own plight to survive) — just nothing but sympathy! I grew up in a desolate farming community and I feel for you; I really do.


  10. Go Jules Go Says:

    You know, tomatoes require a lot of TLC. I think we just need to resign ourselves to your fate, and send donations in your memory to the Marcus Aurelius Scholarship fund. It is awarded to the high school graduate with the most potential to grow pot in his parents’ basement when he’s 30.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Tomatoes are apparently the best water-absorption items on Earth. I don’t know why we don’t just hurl tomato plants into flooded areas. The flooding after Katrina could have been no big, and there’d have been plenty of produce afterward!


  11. Lynn Schneider Says:

    I am very sorry for your situation. Pray for rain.


  12. sandylikeabeach Says:

    I understand the pain of being denied instant internet connectivity. I begin a six week goat herding job on Friday that will limit my internet time because they don’t have unlimited internet access out in the country. I have quite a few books to keep me company because the actual goat herding only takes an hour or so a couple of times each day. The rest of the time is spent walking hilly country roads, swimming and reading by the pool.


  13. susielindau Says:

    Make a commercial: “Enslaved by tomatoes, imprisoned by nuts, only you can set him free. Send $9.99 to contribute to a sprinkler system for the step-father-in-law of the downtrodden Byronic Man.” Hire Sarah McLaughlin to sing, “In the Arms of an Angel” in the background while showing photos of Byronic Man reading in the orchard, cut off from the world.


  14. Jackie Cangro Says:

    You’re a brave, brave man, Byronic.
    This is a complete outrage. Don’t worry. We’ll get you out of this nightmare right away. I’ll be starting a FB page this afternoon. Free the Byronic Man. Before long we’ll have people around the world signing the petition to save you from these atrocities.

    In the meantime, take a nice stroll through the hazelnut orchard for me.


  15. The Bumble Files Says:

    That’s funny. I’m not at my home either with limited computer access. It’s very strange and I feel lost. The orchard is nice though. Maybe you should try to cleanse your mind and stare at a blank wall like the monks do. Embrace your new reality?


  16. Thomathon Says:

    While waiting for the Save Bryonic’ Tshirts to be printed, and CNN to charge down those dusty orchard lanes, what a golden opportunity to give your father in law (and prevent this from ever happening to you in the future) the gift of freedom. Set him up a sprinkler system for his tomato plants. However, you must do it soon, before your calendar is filled with interview appointments, or you won’t have the time.

    You will be elevated to hero status, and can doze to the soothing sound of little sprayers flooding the plants with life.


  17. Shannon Says:

    I enjoy my occasional bouts of unpluggedness. I like being in charge of my Internet habit. We week-long vacations away from connectivity (including phones) a couple or three times per year on purpose. But watering tomatoes…by hand…every day? REALLY? Every day?? That part that seems odd to me. And I grow tomatoes. (

    I hope you make it back to civilization soon. I do love me some Internet.


  18. Wilma Says:

    Oh, I know your plight. As I read this, it brought back memories of last summer when I travelled to the Tri-Cities to help my aunt and uncle after my uncle’s cancer had been diagnosed as terminal.

    In addition to tomatoes figuring prominently in the situation, I also got dragged into helping my aunt clean the garage. My aunt is also a putterer where a trip to Costco, which I believe she is addicted to because she goes every day, can take upwards of three hours. I’m also not sure if she has ever thrown away a dish or table linen in her life, and they are all stored, wrapped in tissue in dozens of boxes in her garage. Oh the joys of opening and unwrapping every item because she couldn’t find her salt and pepper shakers. Don’t ask me why she didn’t just buy new ones at Costco.

    I too did not have access to the internet, but would occasionally sneak away to a neighbor’s house to use their WiFi until my aunt would shuffle over and make me go back to their place. Numerous prison break strategies were attempted and thwarted during my time in Kennewick.

    I thought about starting a smoke signal campaign for you. You know, so your supporters wouldn’t have to rely on the internet, but then I considered the carbon emissions and the fact that no one came for me when I was trapped in a stuffy garage, in the middle of July, in the 100 degree temperatures of Kennewick. Unfortunately, due to the bitterness caused by my inprisonment and the fact that I had no hazelnut groves in which to mourn my fate, I cannot find it in my heart to help you. You need to put your big boy panties on and stop being such a wussy!


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      The whole “cleaning out the garage” thing seems like it goes with getting older. One of my best friends gets told he needs to come clean out the garage every single time he talks to his mom. Absolutely every single time.


  19. Doris Says:

    I am envious, would love to be there (especially if there’s trees), last year I went 11 days on a trip and my cousin did not have internet and did not take my phone either, I love it. Maybe you can learn to start a fire with wood or something, it’s a suggestion, and good luck.


  20. Raymond Says:

    Friends and Fellow Social Media Disciples: The Byronic Man’s plight is all too common and all too sad in our world. While so many enjoy a constant connection to the internet and the important world of virtual friendships and virtual lives many others are but intermitently connected to a life of fulfillment through kitten videos and status updates. What kind of society are we to allow so many to live with so little. Please join us at United Against Time Without Internet Time ( U A TWIT) to put an end to this injustice and to ensure that no man, woman or child ever misses an important “Share” simply because they have no signal. Participation is easy and you can make a difference. Our goal at U A TWIT is to harness every chipmonk, squirrel, cat, and racoon with an aluminum foil hat. These foil hats will allow statelites to beam an internet signal to every corner of forest and field to create a wifi blanket across this great land. We are in need of volunteers at all levels including aluminum hat makers (must have small hands for this delicate work) and hat placers (good cardio required as our target animals are fast). Or if you prefer just send U A TWIT your tax deductable donation of Reynolds Wrap. Help us make No Wi-Fi a Go Wi-Fi world.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Ooh, nice slogan at the end there!

      And it’s true – can you imagine that on any given day there are countless people out in the sunshine, not logged on to the internet or talking on the phone?


  21. therealkenjones Says:

    Forced to read a book and nap under a tree in an orchard. This used to be America…


  22. Lenore Diane Says:

    SAVE BYRONIC!! Because, Ferris was just a guy in the movie, and Byronic is a REAL guy. With BALLS. (Hmmm… I’m still riled up from Speaker’s post.)


  23. pegoleg Says:

    I took care of the whole thing. I called “Hoarders” and they’ll be at your mother-in-law’s tomorrow with a camera crew and a therapist to discuss why she hates her family, a clean-up crew in space suits to empty the house and the city health inspector to condemn the place. You’ll be home in no time!


  24. John Says:

    Man, that blows! Well, I’ve nominated you for that One Lovely Blog award. Maybe that’ll help? Best of luck. Tomatoes are really good for you!


  25. JenniferVaughn Says:

    The sad thing about not being able to have a 24/7 presence on social media sites is that your friends aren’t going to notice that you’re not around and shortly you’ll be forgotten all together. So why not take this incredible opportunity to FAKE YOUR OWN DEATH!!

    Nothing will get the word out faster that a lack of internet connection is a terminal condition. Your fake obituary will run rampant through cyberspace, alerting everyone to your demise. You will be a martyr. A hero whose demise came to soon. An immortal!

    Once there are a few Save The Byronics or Free The Internet foundations set up you may then return to civilization, announce your existence, and start cashing in on all of the groups that are using your name and/or likeness to raise money for their cause.


  26. Stephanie Jill Rudd Says:

    This has to be a human rights issue. I hear on the tomato vine-sorry no pun intended that Julian Assange is also experiencing similiar problems and that the isolation of enforced exile is troublesome for him too. He may write to you, you can share stories of mutual suffering. As we speak I have rallied Europe to your cause; however I do not wish to give false hope as they have their hands somewhat full with financial issues at moment and may not be able to spare any euros at moment, but by time you got them they may well be worthless anyway. Anyway; chin up and keep your sanity if you can. At the very least, you are being spared the world news and thus in some ways you are luckier than most.


  27. Rinth Says:

    We should stop eating hazelnuts!


  28. auntyamo Says:

    I’m so jealeous… of the orchard, the weather, the sleeping, the hazelnut trees…. but mostly cos you right so flipping well!!!

    Now there’s something I can get worked up about!!!

    *shakes fist at heavens… “Why Lord!!!”


  29. auntyamo Says:

    argggh ‘right’ I typed ‘right’?????? I meant ‘write’ … well obviously!
    Blogging reputation down the drain.

    Is this a bad time to ask you to interview me for 20 questions?



  30. cassiebehle Says:

    I think — much like a snowball fight breaks out in the middle of the street at 1 in the morning — a tomato fight is in order amist the orchard. LEAVE NO PRISONERS! Unless you’re still a prisoner, of course. Then you may have to do a bit of finagling.


  31. mistyslaws Says:

    I like to think of your situation similarly to the plight of Francis Scott Key when he was stuck at Ft. McHenry and witnessed out of his cell the brilliant lights and colors of the bombs being hurled at his fortress, and waking to find himself gazing upon the beauty of the bay outside his window and his country’s flag waving in the breeze. I liken your situation to this moment, as I feel that in your current prisoner of war situation, you should be able to find enough strength to put pen to paper (they have pens and paper out there, right?) to write what will eventually become the new anthem of our beloved nation based on this horrowing experience and the triumphs that you will eventually experience once you prevail from this moment of misery. Get going, B. History awaits your brilliance!!


  32. mj monaghan Says:

    “What action should be taken to raise awareness of my plight? Occupying something? Boycotting things? Wearing things? Falling asleep under trees in solidarity?”

    I’m flipping this to “glass 3/4 full.”
    Here’s the plan:
    – Thoreau lived at Walden Pond for two years. He had a super-slow internet connection in 1845.
    – First, petition the local community to bring in high-speed internet. The folks there will love wasting, I mean enriching, their time on the computer once they get hooked up in the ha-shizzle. Shouldn’t take more than six months to push that through the commishes.
    – Come up with a really cool name – may suggest Walden River – for your body of water nearby. Something really catchy.
    – Move the tomato plants near the river for instant irrigation.
    – “Invite” a few hundred occupiers, via the media, to camp out in the orchard, so that, wait for it … the media shows up and brings in high-speed internet.
    – Plan B: Look at “glass almost empty” and publicize plight. Have fellow bloggers write posts about it, you get Freshly Pressed from one of your now-only-monthly posts, gain high-powered literary attention, agent calls you, you sign book deal, and make NYT Bestseller List.

    Not convoluted enough??


  33. thesinglecell Says:

    Well, if driving backward through orchards and tomato plant patches in a red 1961 Ferrari GT California while blaring “Boump Boump. Chick. Chick-a chick-a/Oh Yeah” by Yello is out…
    Then I gotta go with a 24-hour lie-in: lounging in hammocks holding shriveled, unwatered tomato plants, wearing tomato juice-stained t-shirts, peppered with seeds, that say “Amok vs. Hammock: Nobody Wins.”
    This slogan should also be painted on water towers.


  34. mysocalledDutchlife Says:

    Admit it – you’re just on holiday, you big drama queen, aren’t you?


  35. girlonthecontrary Says:

    I’m going to wear a piece of black tape under my right eye (a la Nelly back in the day). THAT is sure to save you. You’re welcome.


  36. Anna Says:

    Occupy Comcast? No one should have to live without Internet! Apparently 28% of Americans do not use Internet at all ( You can be the face of their cause, Byronic Man.


  37. artzent Says:

    Strip all of your clothes off, turn around, put one foot in front of the other and HAUL ASS!


  38. Hippie Cahier Says:

    I called together a few friends to sing about your plight. I don’t know what that’s supposed to do, but we all had a good time.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Hey, I just got back from there! I particularly like MJ Monaghan singing in to his coffee cup.


      • Hippie Cahier Says:

        That was Marcus’s idea. He makes a lot of sense.


        • Spectra Says:

          Dearest Byronic Man –

          I am here due too Hippie’s committed support of your cause. I followed her link looking for humor, and am instead…horrified! by what I’ve read here today.

          But, Fear Not. I have enlisted the aid of my legions of cicadias worldwide, and your message is bypassing the www and being directly distributed though their summer cacaphonies and cacklings. This means: you shall be set free in no time. No time at all.

          p.s. – they accept payment in the form of American Express, and of course, tomatoes.


  39. omawarisan Says:

    I am empathetic. I’m not sure how you are getting by in these inhumane conditions.

    I believe everyone should drive around with their headlights on during the day to show solidarity with your plight. When people forget to turn them off and drain the battery you’ll know they are the ones most committed to your cause.


  40. spilledinkguy Says:

    *in my best Russell Crowe*


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