Sorry, but I do think we are starting to have a Wylie H. problem. I know I am, and I believe others are, as well. We need to stop the speculation, the guessing, the false accusations. It is eroding our civic life and possibly even our psychological well-being.
Yesterday during a Dallas Park and Recreation Board meeting, board member Yolanda Williams launched into a tirade in which she implied — without any basis in fact — that an unnamed Dallas City Council member is in fact the mysterious and unnamed web commenter whose pen name is Wylie H. Dallas.
I did worse than that. A few days earlier I linked Wylie H. with former City Council candidate Bobby Abtahi, by name, and not because I thought Abtahi really was Wylie H. but because I thought he was not.
Wouldn’t you know, two hours after I had invoked Abtahi’s name on Facebook, I found myself seated at a press conference in City Hall, craned my head around on my folding chair, and … DRAT! Whom should I see three seats away but Bobby Abtahi, glaring at me! And I do mean glaring.
In fact, I do not think Abtahi is Wylie H. For one thing, Wylie H. is a super-intelligent proponent of everything forward-looking and urban-smart in our city. For a while he wrote a column for D Magazine, which means they must know who he is. I don’t. Meanwhile, his insanely insightful and prescient comments pop up regularly on Dallas Observer articles, D Magazine articles, Dallas Morning News articles (rarely) and, of course, on his own Facebook page.
I tend to go through cycles of obsession with his identity. For a long time I thought I knew who he was, and I was sort of stalking the guy I suspected, button-holing him at social events. I would stare at him and mouth the words, “I know who you are.” I know I had him rattled.
At one point, he said, “Jim, is this age related? Do you know who you are?”
Then he died. Really. So I took him off my list. Since then Wylie H. has become even more prolific.
When Abtahi ran for the council from District 14 three years ago, I characterized him as representing the Dallas Citizens Council Stooge Party. I have seen nothing since then to change that assessment.
So why was I asking people on Facebook if Abtahi was Wylie H? Because I knew he was not. In fact, it offended me to think he could be.
This is a little over-personal, I know, but last Saturday when I came out of Home Depot with a can of wet-conditions PVC glue, I found that my pickup battery was dead. The heat index on that particular part of the Home Depot parking lot at the time was 192 degrees Fahrenheit, I think.
Rather than call Triple-A and wait in the heat for two hours for a tow truck, and on the assumption that my battery was flat dead anyway, I went back inside Home Depot and bought a new battery. I was in the process of installing that battery — my shirt black with sweat, face grease-smudged, knuckles bloody, not that I want you to feel sorry for me — when a person of my longtime acquaintance happened by, wouldn’t you know it, and began to mock me regarding Wylie H.
Welcome to my life.
She said that I always make such a big deal out of Wylie H. when everybody in town knows that it’s Bobby Abtahi. I said that was not possible. She said it was a sure thing, and she said it was sort of funny that everybody in town knows who Wylie H. is except me. I considered throwing my crescent wrench at her. I did not. Barely.
Wylie H. has taunted me. Two years ago he sent me a copy of my own book with a note composed of letters torn from a newspaper saying, “Hope you enjoy this book.” So that’s one clue. He knows how to tear letters from newspapers, so we know he’s over 40.
When I had a call-in radio show, he — or she — used to call in using one of those voice-morphing machines to make it sound like he was either a man disguising his voice as a woman or a woman disguising her voice as a man. I still hear that in my dreams.
During yesterday’s daylong park board meeting, board member Williams kept blowing up and bawling out the other board members for no apparent reason, out of the blue, based on nothing that anyone had said.
Finally, by listening to her a bit more closely, I realized she was not responding to events in the room around her. Instead, she was spending most of her day reading insulting tweets about her on her phone by Wylie H.
I looked at Twitter. I didn’t think the stuff he was saying about her was all that devastating, next to what I’ve been through. It was stuff like, “Yolanda Williams doing more grandstanding.” Believe me, that’s Wylie H. on a slow news day, but it was enough clearly to drive Williams right around the bend.
“So I just want to bring up a couple things,” she said at the beginning of one of her multiple tirades during the day. “I’m getting tweets from Wylie Davis, and I know you’re watching, and I know which council person you are. So, Donald Trump junior, you can’t scare me off.
“I can handle you on Twitter,” she said. “I see all these tweets as if I’m not putting the community meetings first. So I know which council member is Wylie Davis. Don’t hide behind that satire.”
Of course, all the other park board members are sitting around wide-eyed like owls about to take off from their branches. I don’t think they really knew what was up with her, but I did.
Given my own experience on this issue, I felt kind of sorry for her. I, too, know what it is to be haunted by Wylie H. I, too, know how you can be involved in the most personal moments of your life, putting a new battery in your truck even, and some woman comes along and mocks you because you don’t know who Wylie H. is.
But I say this to you, Ms. Williams, and it’s a personal message. We must stop the speculation. Both of us. We must stop invoking the names of people in connection with Wylie H. when we just don’t know, like when I said it wasn’t Bobby Abtahi. It isn’t fair to them. It isn’t good for us, emotionally or mentally.
One question, however. You think it’s Philip Kingston, right?
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