In a small Oregon river town the local paper’s advice column generates a storm of controversy every week, because the letters in it are about real people and their real problems—but the subjects didn’t write the letters. The columnist, “Mrs. Bambi,” eavesdrops on conversations in public places and answers the letters that the subjects might have written, if they were willing to subject themselves to her snarky responses.
Everyone wants to string her up, but the columnist is not a woman, it’s a widower named Richard whose friends tolerate him mostly because of his adorable nine-year old daughter.
Richard has led a quiet life, raising his daughter, working part-time at his small computer consulting business, and drinking with his friends every Friday, when they take turns watching his daughter to give him a night off. His best friend is A.M, the owner of a deranged clothing shop: a smart, foul-mouthed, sex-crazed, brazen lesbian. Because most of his other friends are people introduced to him by A.M., almost everyone he knows is gay, except for the town hussy, the ailing owner of a mail order business, and the editor of his advice column—who wants Richard to stop writing it.
His quiet life is about to be upended, when for the first time since his wife died he begins dating again. Pam is a real estate agent who works to feed her sports addiction: windsurfing, mountain climbing, skiing—everything that Richard has no use for. They begin a romance of opposites, which soars until Pam discovers that Richard is Mrs. Bambi.
Despite his friends withdrawing, his new romance stuttering, the rumor of Mrs. Bambi’s identity spreading, and public attacks on him and his home, Richard stubbornly refuses to stop writing the columns. By the time the whole town knows who he is, the only thing that can prevent them from tarring and feathering him is for people to finally learn the whole truth about Richard, which is much larger than the simple mystery of Mrs. Bambi.