Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Monday, November 07, 2011

Two anecdotes

Sunday evening
I laugh, reading an anecdote by the highly productive Professor William Ian Miller in his essay, "Losing It."

January 13, 2010: I am defending to a colleague the wisdom of the police rounding up the usual suspects.

Me: Claude Rains was being more than a mere cynic, which of course he was also being, when he said "round up the usual suspects" because the usual suspects were not innocent but the known criminals of whatever the city was, Tangiers, Marrakesh, I forget which.

Colleague: Casablanca.

Me: I am going to go shoot myself.

N, 14, looking up from doing his DBQ essay:  What?

Me: Just an anecdote about someone who is worrying about forgetting things as you get older... And oddly enough, it's about Casablanca, where your dad is right at this moment.

N: Casablanca? I thought he was in Morocco.

Me: Casablanca is in Morocco. Remember the African map you made for history a few weeks ago?

N: Oh. Yeah.

* * *

Dear Professor Miller,

You see, N. Miller, age 14 (no relation--you're not forgetting us) is just as forgetful as W. Miller, so don't worry. And you're so cheerful about the doom of decline. I like that. (And anyway, such a multi-pronged intellect who is tossing off a few books at 65 does not have too much to worry about when it comes to shrunken brains.) Good cheer above all--well, above much.

Yrs, with laughter all around--
M

10 comments:

  1. The responsibility of remembering things is so great that I look forward to being able to say (in all honesty), "Oh! I forgot!"
    It happens guiltlessly.

    Nate appears to be learning the most important lessons in life early. Where?
    Bright lad!

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  2. Where are the shrunken heads you promised? Memory loss?

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  3. Robbi,

    Go read his article! You will find the shrunken heads (brains) there.

    Paul,

    Yawn. I have discovered that temporary momdom when your youngest child has an unbelievable schedule of sports, other activities, and eight classes is quite stressful. Up to all hours and rising at six or earlier.

    I like the way you wrap yourself in silver linings!

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  4. This is actually extremely funny. I hope you can see the humor, Marly, but thanks for sharing it with the rest of us.

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  5. I'm afraid I laughed heartily, Beth! Yes, I thought it was a funny conjunction...

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  6. Hmm, maybe I should add a smidge if it's not wholly clear that I thought the whole thing funny!

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  7. Ha! N is not alone. My 14 year-old son worked on the very same map just a few weeks ago. Perhaps males are more susceptible to forgetfulness...

    It's a boy thing, isn't it? (I've got one of the other flavor and she's not known to miss a beat.) ;)

    (Loved yours, and Professor William's, piece.)

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  8. Jayne,

    Thanks for popping by--I'm off to Scouts with said boy right now. Yes, I have two boys and a girl and notice some pretty pronounced differences as well!

    Ack, late for Scouts--by!

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  9. Dear Marly Yeomans, Bill Miller thanks you for the kind post, but his shrinking brain is such that he could not figure out how to find your email account to send this appreciation there.

    Bill Miller
    http://www-personal.umich.edu/~wimiller/

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  10. Dear Bill,

    You have managed to spell my name the way my ancestors did (somehow we began altering the thing a couple of generations back.) I have often thought that I should have used that spelling in my books because then more people would know how to pronounce it.

    Worry not! The address seems to have vanished from both website and blog. I shall have to rectify that, I suppose. My public address is camellia (at) marlyyoumans.com.

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.