Monday, February 12, 2001


Early on, Baslow learned that if he was to survive his tender youth he would have to endeavor often to be right or to be funny, sometimes both at the same time. Thus, he learned to marshall his facts and his gags at a moment's notice.

The ability to summon facts (or, in a pinch, to fabricate them) has served him in good stead all these years. He collects facts. He hoards them. He is forever producing them with an appropriate flourish at just the right moment in a conversation.

His early reliance on laughter, however, has incubated within him an alarming disorder which occasionally manifests itself in excrescences of the most embarrassing nature. It is as if he were possessed by an intellectual herpes: Periodically, little clusters of attempted humor burst forth upon his lips.

The World is, on these occasions, embarrassed for Baslow. It shows this in the way it starts to edge away from him, uncomfortably seeking some spot that can be considered out of his range. Baslow usually presses on, unmindful of the discomfiture that is coming to a boil all around him. He usually thinks, in these situations, the is "on a roll".

Oh Baslow, Baslow! Hear yourself as you are heard! Desist before it is too late! Turn back, back, I tell you, before someone finally says the words which will let you know, unmistakeably, how far you have strayed from your goal: "That was a joke, right?"

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