Homo homini rodentius est

Who’s Laughing Now?

When I was a wee thing — a mere micronaut — I got the idea into my head to be a writer. Not just any kind of writer but a successful writer. And the idea I came up with for my first published opus would be an article about the meaning of success itself! I would write to famous successful people and ask them to tell me their definition of success. Seemed sure fire — the article would practically write itself and I would learn some important tips to use in my own climb toward the heights. Reader’s Digest here I come! Pulitzer? Why yes, thank you.

So I sat down and wrote to about 200 people and asked them what success meant to them. The list was quite inclusive and included the first man to set foot on the moon, the mother of a murdered president, a physician who rid the world of polio, actors, politicians, athletes and other writers (like me). Of course most never responded, but some were very kind and did. Among them, Charles M. Schulz told me that success meant not having to dread getting up every morning. George Burns said that success meant being able to smoke as many cigars as he wanted without having to worry about how to pay for them and Lowell Thomas said the trick to a successful life was to marry the boss’s daughter. Hmm. Then there was Art Buchwald, who took the time it would have taken to give me what I wanted to write a snarky excuse for not giving me what I wanted. You can see the actual letter after the jump. Even then I thought it kind of harsh to use the opportunity to riff on a kid.

And now he’s dead.

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