Point of View: Just a Word

   About this time 25 years ago, in a fit of pique prompted by what I thought was an untimely weekend invasion of city folk seeking summer rentals, I wrote a column whose envoi, “go home scumbags,” sparked a six-week firestorm of reproval, each letter writer apparently thinking I’d been referring to him, when, in fact, I had been more enamored of the delightful rhythm of the phrase than put out by anyone in particular.
    And, as my wife has reminded me many times since, the point of the column was that, in the end, I, the so-called nativist, advocated ear­nestly in behalf of a weekend visitor who’d arrived too late to be served dinner at a restaurant whose owner I knew, and had begged leave to serve as his and his wife’s guide to the area’s chief points of interest.
    But the enraged, I think, didn’t read that far, put off, I suppose, by a fanciful vow to take up arms against the invading horde. As if I could do anything about it. Subdivide it and they will come.
    And now, dear reader, an intimate revelation: I’m a scumbag! A wretch and no less an arriviste than anyone else whose surname’s not Miller, Bennett, Osborne, Osborn, Lester, or Talmage.
    Scumbag, scumbag, scumbag. There, I’ve said it. It’s just a word, though shitballs remains my favorite.
    I should, I suppose, have fully owned up to my scumbagginess in the neiges d’autant 25 years ago. That was my error, what I think led to all the furor.
    But on this unutterably blithe springlike day at the end of winter, on this gentle day in which Henry and I have drifted like clouds, I feel at peace and at one with all who live or visit here. I never really meant to give offense.