The Breakfast Table

The Incredible Lightness of Friday

Dear Erik–

Neat questions. It’s a good thing you didn’t pose them earlier. I would never have gotten all my anti-Clinton digs in. And watch what you say about my quiver. If I had access to one of the most knowledgeable economic gurus in the land as you do I would sign over everything to them and like instructing a good mechanic simply say, “You handle it.” For all I know you may do that. I feel strongly that none of us can do everything and we should spend our lives looking for people we can either marry, befriend, pay, intimidate or passive-aggressively get to do things for us. If one isn’t interested, has no natural proclivities to master or is simply too damn thick to learn something one should find another way. People spend far too much time trying to do things like dance or learn French or how the change valves and feeling guilty about it. Just don’t do it. Find someone who can. Make no apologies and go to an exciting exhibit or ball game while someone else does the lube job or calligraphy on a hundred invitations to your Christmas party.

I shall not rise to the bait to bait. I think I have made myself crystal (Kristol?) clear as to my feelings about Mr. Clinton. The history of the last seven and a half months is my best shot. Someone came to me with the truth of something terrible. I got that truth out under extraordinary odds. Done is done. Now let’s see if things get better. I believe passionately they will. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Now to the Ten Thousand Bored Youths March. I’m for free assembly and free speech. I’m against nasty speeches and bad language only on the grounds of taste. I’m against malicious adults stirring up young, possibly angry, young people, getting them even angrier and then leaving them to smash things up. The people who rallied around Rushdie (whom I met once and found to be charming) here in New York spent more time wiggling themselves into camera view than they did trying to solve his very real problem. I suspect the people running this march will spew hate instead of trail egos. Because I am not politically correct and work hard at it I have to say nimby characterizes my attitude. As long as they don’t do this thing outside my window, try to burn down the wonderful Korean grocery store on the corner, smash the windows of the shops along Broadway and torch my car and my neighbors I say let them have their march up where they planned it and if they spew their hatred I hope there will be film at 11 for all the world to see. I also hope the good kids walk away and the bad kids get arrested. Patriotism can never be boyish. That says there is something childish and unsophisticated about loving this country. If there is no place else in our lives that we can be openly emotional about something it is about being an American and I will never be embarrassed or shy about it–ever. People died for that.

This has been a most enjoyable exercise for me. I thank you for your patience and good nature. You are clearly a vastly civil and intelligent man (and dare I guess, sweet?) You

probably don’t deserve my aggression. Blame the good offices of Slate for their matchmaking. They should have warned you that I am a rabid, opinionated libertarian and troublemaker, but perhaps you knew that. If there is one thing I thank you folks who gave us Bill Clinton for is that we have never been bored by the man and being bored is something I fight against with a zeal that borders on wackiness.

This weekend shall pass. Do not think of yourself as abandoned. “He also serves who stands and waits.” Now I have to go shop. I still don’t have the Schumann CD and Explaining Hitler is just two blocks away.

Keep Hope Alive,


P.S. How am I going to restrain myself from answering your last letter?