How did Famous and Nonfamous Strangers get its name? Jay explains:
The site’s name is taken from the text of a letter (view image) received in late 1997 at the offices of the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, where I was working (along with nonfamous nonstranger Rachel). We were torn between the undeniable pathos and unintentional humor of both the letter and its apparently scattershot distribution. OK, mostly we were just laughing so hard we hurt– and that went on for weeks. We actually considered calling poor Jeannine, but encountered a difficult question: how does one call a paranoid schizophrenic without making her more paranoid? Emily Post offers no guidance on these matters.
To this day, phrases like “greatly maimed and incapacitated” pop to my mind and I giggle. Only when nonfamous nonstranger Topher revealed that he actually knew “crazy Jeannine” from his college days at Evergreen was I able to think of her as a real person, and a sad one at that. The urge to make contact surfaced again– but what would I say? “Did you ever get help?” “Did you know you made some kids in the desolate middle of the country laugh and feel less sorry for themselves, in a kind of sick Seinfeld way?”
So thank you, Jeannine, and I’m sorry. I promise not to invade your privacy or host any “charity dinners on behalf of the cause [we] have fabricated about [your] life.” But there is this little website where some decent people will share with the wider world our thoughts and worldview– much as you shared yours with us via Xerox and snailmail.