The present culture wars are focused on the merits of canceling. I am a simple man, and I am not fully equipped to wade into the stormy sea of this discussion. However, I pray we can all agree that stalkers are evil. With that in mind, perhaps cancel culture could be wielded in a positive way? Can we, as a civilized society, agree to eliminate cancerous individuals from our lives? Do you, dear reader, realize the incessant hell that is spending your existence under a microscope? Allow me to enlighten you.
My torment started in England, in 1985. I noticed a man following me, taking my picture. I went to the bobbies to complain, but the stalking laws were weak, and this photog had not threatened me. I did my best to ignore the man. Eventually, I stopped noticing the intruder, and I assumed it was over. I was wrong.
In 1987, I saw the first book with my image on the cover: Where’s Wally? My mind buzzed with confusion and I felt sick. I bought the volume, went home, and read it cover to cover. I spent the next three weeks crying. Photos of me, at my most intimate, turned into a puzzle for some simple mind’s amusement. My fashion sense became an “inside joke” for the masses.
We all desire to be part of something. I often seek out crowds to deal with my crushing loneliness and social anxiety. A man, an evil man, decided to exploit this. He made a game, a book, and a living, from exposing me. Disgusting. My personal existence, the very soul of my being, exploited for cheap consumer entertainment.
Throughout the late 1980s, I filed restraining orders and harassment lawsuits, to no avail. Eventually, I had enough, and was ready for a big change. I escaped to America in pursuit of the proverbial dream. The sun, the sand, the fast living, these were fun for a spell. After a time, I made my home in the more subdued city of Milwaukee and pursued my dream of being a cheese-critic.
Things were great, at first. My simple life progressed, and things began to look up. I had numerous articles published, “Monster Munster” being a high point. All were written under pseudonyms to ensure my stalker couldn’t find me. I made friends and met a nice young woman. I changed my name from Wally to the more refined Waldo, hoping to ensure peace.
However, my tormentor returned.
“Where’s Wally” became “Where’s Waldo” and exploded in my adopted homeland.
Martin Handford is the beast’s name. For 35 years, Handford has tortured my soul. Pursing me, photographing me, exploiting me. Numerous cities, countries, and continents. Even a name change. Still, Handford haunts me.
In the spring of 2014, I was at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, enjoying the contemplative stillness and fragrant coffee. It was quiet. I marveled at Diego Velázquez’s “Las Meninas.” Peace washed over me. I was content.
Eventually, I felt something amiss. I turned. Handford was in the gallery’s corner. He ogled me, hands on hips. He displayed an erection. Metallica’s Master of Puppets played from a tinny phone speaker in his pocket.
Handford smirked and asked, “Have you read Richard Connell?”
Being a man of refinement, I’ve taken in The Most Dangerous Game, Connell’s seminal work, but I knew better than to engage my demon. I turned from the bastard Handford and ran to find security.
Handford bellowed: “The world is made up of two classes: the hunters and the huntees. I know which one I am, Waldo, and I know which one you remain.” He cackled.
I dove into the arms of a dark-haired security guard. The man soothed me, and I wept.
I have not recovered. I’ve spent the last six years living as a hermit, hiding, destroyed.
I beg you: stop supporting Handford. Stop buying his disgusting, exploitative, books of invasive photos. These tomes are voyeuristic lifestyle pornography, focused on me. They are destroying my soul. Despite your personal position on cancel culture, Handford must be de-platformed.
Where’s Waldo? That is not for you to determine.
Maybe I don’t want to be found.