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How Not to Accept Rejection, by James Ardito

03 May 2019 7:11 AM | Anonymous

Have you been totally rejected lately? Have you applied for a job or sent something in to a publisher and received a form rejection back? They’re always the same—impersonal, indifferent, coldly standardized. Don’t despair, Jimbo’s here and I am a master of rejection. In my younger days, I was rejected by countless women. Maybe that was because I looked like Quasimodo and had a hump on my face! But most of my rejections came from magazines that shot down the articles or stories I sent in.

The rejections piled up; in fact, I literally papered the wall with them. Worst of all, they were always form rejections, which inspired my revenge. I found a brilliant way to get back and make a point, which I joyfully share with you now as a way of getting even and who knows?—maybe a way of getting what you want. I devised this rejection of their rejection letter.

Dear _____________ Magazine.

Thank you for your recent submission of a rejection letter to my article suggestion. It has been carefully reviewed by our editorial staff and, unfortunately, has been found unacceptable. This in no way reflects on the quality of your rejection; it simply means that rejection is not suited to our purposes at this time.

We apologize for the form letter, but the sheer number of rejections we receive makes it impossible to respond personally. We wish you luck in rejecting other people and thank you for thinking of rejecting Jim Ardito.

I sent that letter out and got some wonderful responses back from editors, including a rejection of my rejection of their rejection letter. This letter allowed me to establish a relationship with one editor who eventually did publish an article. See? Being a smart aleck and wiseass can pay off. Rejection? Who needs it? We get enough of it in life—especially if you have a hump on your face! P.S. My picture has been edited.

Lobster Fra Diavolo (Brother Devil)

(Lobster in Spicy Marinara Sauce)

Leap from rejection to utter love and acceptancewith this dish. In Italian, the “brother devil” in the name comes from the addition of red pepper, which adds nicea spicea. This is truly my favorite food in the world and that covers a lot of dishes—the essence of lobster permeates every loving spoonful of the sauce and each strand of luscious linguini. When I was growing up, this was our family Christmas Eve, “White Dish” favorite. My mother did not particularly love it or any shellfish, but she wasn’t selfish so she served it anyway. Oh, reject adding parmesan cheese. That’s forbidden with this recipe and most every Italian fish dish.

What youza need:

3 Tbls olive oil

10 unclothed cloves of garlic (this dish is spicy!)

1 onion (chopped)

Salt, pepper to taste

¼ cup oregano, 10 leaves fresh basil, garlic powder, 2 bay leaves

4 16 oz. cans Contadina Crushed Tomatoes in Puree (if you’re making this, make a lot)

2 whole lobsters (3 if you can swing it—Super H market in Niles often has live lobsters for $8.00 a lb)

Red pepper flakes (shakes to taste)

½ cup parsley

1 ½ cups white wine

What youza do:

This is gross, but you’re going to have to kill the lobsters or have the fish monger do it. Is there a humane way to kill a lobster? Is that an oxymoron? Who knows, but I’ve read about this and the jury seems to be out as to whether lobsters feel pain and if you can get a life sentence for killing them? The prevailing opinion is that the best way to do them in is to numb them first in the freezer for 15 minutes to an hour, then plunge a sharp knife straight down right behind the eyes. Yikes! Sorry to bring up an indelicate point when discussing a delicacy – and it really is—so don’t hesitate for a second to kill them and cook this anyway. (Sorry, PETA people.)

After they’re dead and you’ve expressed proper remorse (seriously), cut the belly open. I used to throw out the “tamale” (a.k.a. guts). I now know this is considered a sacrilege since the tamale is a source of much lobster flavor.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onions and then the garlic. Remove these babies, add a little more oil, put the lobsters in and sauté them until they turn as crimson as a Cape Cod sunset. Remove lobsters, put onions and garlic back in, add tomatoes, wine and all the spices. Simmer for around an hour. Add lobsters and cook on medium high heat for no more than 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and go read the Brothers Karamazov. In short, wait a long time.

The longer you let this sauce sit, the better. Let it rest for at least three hours, but it’s best if you can keep it in the fridge overnight. This really transforms the dish and I strongly recommend it. Reheat the sauce just before the linguini is done. Cook your pasta al denti, pour it onto a platter and add sauce quickly so the pasta doesn’t get pasty. Place at least one lobster in the center, garnish with parsley and serve proudly. The presentation looks spectacular and the taste is incomparable. Your guests will go wild—expect it and accept it.

- James Ardito

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  • 11 Jun 2019 3:34 PM | Anonymous
    My favorite rejection for a proposed series of supposed conversations between Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Ford titled "Henry and Waldo": "An interesting conceit but far too literary for our list." A frothy compliment and a sharp elbow all in one sentence. I treasure it.
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