Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I have been blessed, or given, or born with, or have developed or acquired, or earned (choose one or several) assets in life. I must say, chief among these, was a facility for trigonometry. That was what paid the bills.

I think luck has a lot to do with it. These assets are thrown out willy-nilly, like confetti, at birth and, if you get one, lucky you. More than one piece of confetti landed on me. Lucky me.

I don’t think heredity explains it all. No one in my family ever showed ability in math. I come from a long line of janitors-laborers. That puts me into the freakish category.

But when you come from the bottom of the working class and you’re given gifts far beyond what normal expectations should be, there must be drawbacks. There must be some kind of evening up.

I can hear The Giver of Gifts, “Okay, you can excel in this and this and this but, to make up for it, you’re going to be dismal in this and this and this.”

And that’s what happened.

In some very necessary elements of life, the confetti missed me entirely. I won’t enumerate, but that partially explains my being expelled from school exactly on the day they could legally do it.

One of my areas of dismal gifts is vocabulary. No matter how hard I worked on it I could never bring it up to adequacy. I’m like Fredo, the older brother in the Corlione family. I’m smart. I’m not dumb like everyone says. I just don’t have the words to show how smart I am.

I’m like a capped volcano. All these great ideas and emotions and stories are trapped inside me trying to get out.

(Wouldn’t that be more like constipation?)

I would be great writer if I were good with words.

(And I would be a great bird if I could fly.)

Don’t mock me! You don’t feel my pain!

(I feel your pain. It’s in my ass.)

I came up with the perfect solution. Who has the largest vocabulary in America?

(Dennis Rodman?)

William F. Buckley, that’s who. His vocabulary is so big that half of it is useless because it contains words no one else is familiar with.

(People who compile dictionaries follow him around in case he says a word they can add to their next edition.)

But he’s kind of cold-blooded.


Some see him that way.


That’s enough.

I should write with him. We’d make a great team. I have all the feelings and he has all the words.

(How would that work? Even if he could read your mind, there’d be nothing there.)

I’d act it out. He’d have hundreds of descriptions for everything I did. Half of them, no one could understand.

(And half of the rest, you couldn’t understand.)

No, no. I would know what I’m looking for. I’m like that Supreme Court Judge who said, “I know it when I see it.”

(He was talking about pornography.)

So what? I’m talking about words. I know words when I see them. I’m smart. I’m not dumb like everyone says. I’ll know the right words when I see them.

We’d make a great team.

Buckley and Guest.

All I need are the right words.

Then I’d be a great writer.

Won’t I?

(Sure you will.)


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