He's sorry, MoDo

Joel Stein pleads for forgiveness from Op-Ed columnist Maureen Dowd.

Published January 5, 2006 7:45PM (EST)

This is a couple of days old, but I just got a chance to read it and thought it worth passing along. On Tuesday, L.A. Times columnist and all-around wiseass Joel Stein publicly prostrated himself at the feet of New York Times Op-Ed columnist Maureen Dowd, who hates him.

Under the ill-advised headline "How to Apologize to a Feminist" (hint: it's a lot like apologizing to a regular human), Stein recounts how he first provoked Dowd by making a crack in a Time column about how Robert Goulet, a fan of Dowd's work, gave her "more wows than Michael Douglas ever did." Douglas dated Dowd before marrying Catherine Zeta-Jones. Dowd complained to one of Stein's colleagues that this remark had been "patently sexist and revealed a long history of sexism at ... Time magazine."

Stein, at least retrospectively, agrees. "It was a publication," Stein concedes in the Times, "that, for a long time, chose a Man of the Year." Stein explains that he immediately set about trying to make it up to Dowd.

"It is," he writes, "surprisingly easy to reach Maureen Dowd. It is, however, surprisingly difficult to apologize to her." The conversation didn't go well, so a friend suggested he send flowers. By then, Stein had wised up, and managed to deduce that "sending flowers to a feminist accusing you of sexism seemed ... about as good an idea as telling her she looked good in a sweater." Stein -- with some clutch advice from Dowd's friend Alessandra Stanley -- next tried sending her a case of good Chardonnay.

No dice. The case was returned with a note reading "Mr. Stein, keep the wine."

Since then, Stein has pretty much been stalking Dowd -- sending bottles of vino to any restaurant table where he hears she is breaking bread. Apparently, she has refused them all. (Psst! Look, we read the book: Maybe ditch the wine and try some Howard Hawks DVDs or something?)

But the rejection has only strengthened Stein's resolve to somehow get back in MoDo's good books. "I will not rest until I get Dowd to stop hating me," he writes. "Maybe it's male to pursue the one who rejects you, but I think it's just that I don't want to be dismissed by someone I respect."

As for Dowd's fears, expressed in "Are Men Necessary?" that men are turned off by powerful women, Stein claims that to him, Dowd's Pulitzer "just makes her hotter."

We'd bitch about that, except that we have called Dowd foxy a few too many times to be able to pull off straight-faced moral indignation.

So best of luck, buddy.

By Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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