By: Heather Hollingsworth, Associated Press Writer
(AP) Somewhere in Springfield, state unknown, Bart Simpson is in detention, filling a chalkboard with the words “I will not write a fake letter to Dear Abby.”
Well, it probably wasn’t Bart’s handiwork, but he’d no doubt approve of the prank that forced Dear Abby’s editors to pull next Monday’s advice column, which included a letter that mirrored an episode of “The Simpsons.”
“It did sound too similar not to be a hoax,” said Kathie Kerr, a spokeswoman for Kansas City-based Universal Press Syndicate.
The syndicate sent the column to newspaper subscribers last week. A day later, a newspaper editor called after noticing one of the letters to Abby sounded “awfully familiar,” said Sue Roush, one of the column’s editors.
The column is titled “Wife meets perfect match after husband strikes out.” In the letter, the writer describes herself as a 34-year-old mother of three who has been married for 10 years to a man who is “greedy, selfish, inconsiderate and rude.”
The writer says her husband, Gene, gave her a bowling ball for her birthday — complete with the holes drilled to fit his fingers and embossed with his name. Undeterred, the woman decides to learn to bowl and heads to the local lanes, where she meets another man, Franco, who is “kind, considerate and loving.”
They fall in love and Franco proposes.
“I no longer love Gene,” writes Stuck in a Love Triangle. “I want to divorce him and marry Franco. At the same time, I’m worried that Gene won’t be able to move on with his life. I also think our kids would be devastated. What should I do?”
After the letter raised the suspicions of the newspaper editor, Universal Press Syndicate did some research and discovered that Gene seemed a lot like Homer Simpson’s thoughtless character in an episode titled “Life on the Fast Lane.”
In both the letter and the Simpsons episode, the husbands grow suspicious when they stumble across bowling gloves — obvious gifts to their wives from the other man.
In the television show, Homer responds by ineptly professing his love for Marge, who later goes to him at the nuclear power plant where he works. He lifts her up and carries her out of the plant as his co-workers watch and cheer.
“Obviously, it has no basis in reality,” said Fox Network spokesman Scott Grogin.
Jeanne Phillips, who writes Dear Abby, told “Stuck” to tell her husband why she strayed. “To save the marriage,” she wrote, “he might be willing to change back to the man who bowled you over in the first place.”
Phillips was traveling and her editors told The Associated Press she could not immediately be reached for comment.