Never be afraid to get dirty, but be sufficiently sure-footed to avoid the abyss of contamination.


In May of 1989, President Carter was visiting Ohio University to give a public lecture. Carter had been out of office for over eight years and had already made the transition to an author: An Outdoor Journal had been in bookstores for roughly a year. Mrs. G, who had a couple of tickets to the event, called to invite Mrs. E.

Mrs. E wanted to attend, but the list of reasons against going was large. Her family had just come back from a trip to Vancouver, the school year was ending for her two children, and her father would be visiting from India in a week. Unfortunately, she had to decline Mrs. G’s generous offer.

Nearly twenty years have passed since that event. A review of Carter’s The Virtues of Aging by Mrs. E’s father is available at the Carter Presidential Library. Mrs. G’s son has written a couple books of his own. Mrs. E no longer lives in Ohio, and her children have moved out of the house. She is now a grandmother and is currently visiting her children and granddaughter in Massachusetts. She and her son are going to see Mr. R, an award-winning author, present his latest novel.

After passing up opportunities similar to the Carter one, Mrs. E savors the event. Mr. R comes across as simple and charming, and he has an impressive command of the English language. She leaves the experience in high spirits and recalls that during her last close encounter with an author, his identity wasn’t apparent until after the fact.

A couple years ago, Mrs. E received a curious phone call. When she answered the phone, a man’s voice was at the other end.

“Hello, Mom?” he asked, and after a short pause, continued, “Is Sushi there?”

“I’m afraid you have the wrong number,” Mrs. E responded, and the conversation ended quickly. After hanging up the phone, Mrs. E noticed the caller had the same surname as Mrs. G, whose friends call her Sushi. The first initial on the caller ID all but confirmed that the caller was Mrs. G’s son.

The event raised more questions than answers. Why had Mrs. G’s son called Mrs. E’s place? Why did he have her number? The answers may not be sufficient to fill a book, but they may be worth another story.


One response

  1. Mr. V

    I didn’t realize you were in town, hanging out at the Harvard Book Store.

    By the way, I am enjoying the blog’s risorgimento as well as the works of the esteemed English professor from Madras.

    July 15, 2008 at 6:17 pm

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