Pre-glurge heroism

Urban Dictionary defines glurge as "syrupy sweet e-mails that are mass-mailed to unwilling participants" that usually involve "puppies, kitties, children with disabilities, puppies and kitties with disabilities, and Jesus." Glurge also is a category at Snopes.com. It shouldn't take long for glurge purveyors to place their stamp on the heroism and sangfroid of Ashley Smith, who disarmed a violent criminal with homemade pancakes, direct talk about victims' families and reading aloud from Rick Warren's bestseller, The Purpose-Driven Life (don't tell Hanna Rosin), and the Bible.

Smith, a widow at 26 (according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, or 33, according to The Associated Press) could have become just another dead body when Brian Nichols accosted her outside her apartment at 2 a.m. Saturday. Instead, seven hours later she was calling police to tell them where to find Nichols. As she left the apartment, Smith says, Nichols asked if he could hang some artwork or curtains for her.

The account of their time together has to be a one-source story for now, as Nichols is, ah, not available for comment.

As expected, the hometown Journal-Constitution gives Smith's story the most thorough coverage, including this amazing passage from the mainbar:

He unbinds her and they sit in her living room.

"I've had a really long day," he says.

He offers her some faint explanation -- maybe his first to account to anyone of how he had spent this long day.

"I feel like I'm a warrior. The people of my color have gone through a lot."

But he says he's had enough. "I don't want to hurt anybody anymore," he tells her. "I don't want to kill anybody.

"I want to rest."

The atmosphere becomes more normal, as normal as it could be.

Smith asks if he would mind if she reads.

Nichols says OK. She gets the book she'd been reading, "The Purpose Driven Life." It is a book that offers daily guidance. She picks up where she had left off -- the first paragraph of the 33rd chapter.

"We serve God by serving others. The world defines greatness in terms of power, possessions, prestige and position. If you can demand service from others you've arrived. In our self serving culture with its me first mentality, acting like a servant is not a popular concept."

He stops her and asks her to read that again.

A profile of Smith fills out the story well, telling of how her family believes that her assuming the best about other people sometimes leads her to "make bad decisions about men." The same story mentions that Smith already has hired a law firm to handle negotiations for book or movie deals. Please, God, please, don't let it be on Lifetime.

Most newspapers are relying on this briskly written story by the AP's Daniel Yee. The New York Times trimmed Yee's story back to 249 words, in which God is mentioned once and Rick Warren and the pancakes disappear entirely.

The Journal-Constitution's stories are worth reading in their entirety. They tell Smith's story with the credible and subtle details that set a great news story apart from just another glob of glurge.

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