submit, you thieving a-hole!

I'm writing to tell you that the "virus alert" e-mail you sent is just a hoax.

The virus you mention is harmless. In fact, he really dislikes all this attention you've thrown his way. Mainly because he just completed the last phase of a female-to-male operation and he feels awkward enough, without people pointing at him and claiming he's "harmful" or "unnatural."

His name is William (nee Wilma). He lives in a small studio apartment in the University district of Ann Arbor, Michigan. His mom is a laid-off autoworker and his father is in jail. When he was a young girl he would often eat lunch with all the boys in the cafeteria, prompting the girls -- especially the pretty ones -- to call her "oob." This was short for One Of (the) Boys. Sure, it was awkward but Peggy Sanchez, the popular girl, made it up and no one challenged her on it. "Hey, Oob, are you gonna go play football during recess?" they would taunt. In fact, Wilma did play football. She played two positions -- kicker and running back. She eventually scored the winning field goal at the state championship game when she was a junior. All the players were jubilant and they dogpiled on top of her in celebration. Somewhere in the middle of all the joy of the moment, she also felt something shift in her sexually. Something confusing. All those arms, legs, helmets, shoulder pads. All of it squirming all over her and screaming in her ear holes. She had one of those wimpy one bar helmets for when she kicked and she later remembered someone wedging their face in that space, trying to kiss her mouth while she gasped for air in the pileup. That night, she cried. All the following weekend she cried. 

The next year, when she was a senior, she had a chance to win another championship for the team, this time from her running back position. On the last play of the game, with her team at the 3-yard line, the quarterback faked a handoff to her and rolled to his right. She faked a stumble and then slipped quietly into the corner of the end zone, all alone. Wide open. The quarterback, a harelip by the name of Oscar Nettle, lobbed the ball to her. It seemed to float for a whole minute. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a linebacker sprinting toward her. She held out both her arms, as if getting ready to catch a baby. The linebacker dove through the air, his stub-fingered dirty hands reaching. The ball landed perfectly in her arms as the linebacker's helmet hit her thigh. She fell back, the ball still in her hands. She had caught the ball. She stood up, her thigh just charley-horsed. A couple of teammates began hoisting her on their shoulders when the referee's whistles were finally heard. They were waving the play off. Her left foot was out of bounds on the catch. On the thin white chalk line . . . incomplete . . . game over. Wilma Doblonsky had blown it.

Soon after, her father, who sold homemade lamps out of his van near a freeway exit, was sued. The lampshades he was making were not made with the right kind of bulb clamp. He had skimped and constructed the clamp out of a metal that transferred heat. In other words, if the lamps were kept on for a few hours the shades would get hot and catch on fire. He was responsible for several house fires and even the deaths of a dog, a cat, a parrot, and a 90-year-old man. The jury had no mercy.

For the next six years, Wilma lived what could be called an experimental lifestyle. Dressing up as a man and going to Magic card conventions and Star Wars premieres, letting her armpit hair grow wildly, in great wispy clumps like balls of moss, eating Ethiopian food, adapting old Atari games into Internet sitcoms, inventing frangible snowboards.

As the 20th century came to a close, Wilma felt she needed a challenge. Her interest in the booming dot-com scene led her to a brief stint at a major Internet service company. When she was unceremoniously let go because of "philosophical differences" she immediately sought revenge. A competing company hired her as a virus in the spring of 1999. She was the first human to turn herself into a viral form and her first job, the Hot Woman Bikini virus, was quite successful -- infecting an estimated 2.2 million computers. Her follow-up, New Free Cars, was not as effective, destroying a mere 4,000 PCs. In 2001, she began writing her memoir, which she planned to publish in serial form -- a different chapter released each month for sixteen months. Negotiations were heavy. She decided to go with Oxford University Press because there was a secret hidden bonus in the contract. Many believe this to be the sex-change procedures. 

With the memoir recently completed, Doblonsky turned in the manuscript with the new first name, William. Oddly enough, the memoir does not mention that William used to be female. All of that however, has changed. Thanks to your reactionary and intrusive e-mail announcement. Since then, these various facts (and some vicious fictions) have begun to surface as people research William's virus activities.

A representative from Oxford University Press will hold a press conference on the matter at 2:00 this afternoon, from the Black Angus restaurant in downtown Ann Arbor. By answering questions in this forum, the publisher hopes to bring a sense of normalcy back to William's life.

In the future, you, and everyone who has ever pointed their finger (or mouse) at a virus without knowing the whole story should be penalized in some manner. Sure, there's always someone who'll speak up and say simply: "Don't worry, people. This virus is a hoax." But then the virus has to live the rest of their life with that nagging shame for the rest of your life. They cannot resume their normal existence because of your paranoid and insensitive announcement. Imagine applying for a job and hearing the interviewer state aloud: "I remember when there was that virus named Doblonsky. I was running my damn Virex for two hours before I realized it was a fake!"

It would be a better world for all of us if, in the future, your ignorance was kept in check. To put it bluntly: Leave the virus alone! 

[Mr. Sampsell does this.]

[Forever after at

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