Meredith Carroll: Meredith Pro Tem
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
If once is a fluke and twice is a coincidence, then three times must be a conspiracy.
The 2009 Pulitzer Prize Awards won’t be announced until April 20, but I already know I didn’t win because for the third year in a row I missed the entry deadline. You don’t need to be Oliver Stone to recognize that various factions contributed to ensuring once again that I remained unaware of the Feb. 1 cut-off date for submissions until it was too late.
I’m way too classy to point fingers, but does anyone doubt that Steven Pearlstein of The Washington Post, winner of the 2008 Pulitzer winner for Commentary (“For his insightful columns that explore the nation’s complex economic ills with masterful clarity,” according to the Pulitzer Board. Blah, blah, blah), had a suspiciously keen interest in guaranteeing my absence in this year’s competition?
Surely no one expected me to be personally responsible for being conscious of something as common as a deadline. Who doesn’t agree that I have far better things to do with my time than hassle with banal tasks like printing applications, stamping envelopes and schlepping to the post office? Yes, I’m too good for that because I’m that good.
Not sure? Don’t believe me? Then clearly you’re not a regular reader of this column.
Hard core fans (known in the blogosphere as Tem Heads) of Meredith Pro Tem frequently express their concern that I turn a blind eye to my extraordinary, nay, transcendental writing abilities. Like a reader named Hypatia who e-mailed me in response to “Parental paranoia at 30,000 feet” (Feb. 3, 2009).
“I wonder if you realize the kind of personality you project,” she wrote warmly. “What comes through is narrow, narcissistic, negative. You assume the worse and are surprised when people act normally.”
In the same message Hypatia also marveled about the mechanics of my writing, suggesting it “merit[s] a D-. Terminally cutesy … snotty.” The depth and quality of my personality weren’t lost on her, either. “Your attitude … reflects your overall narcissism, ” she said.
Hypatia went on to confide that it was her heartfelt esteem for my work that inspired her to get in touch. “I’m seldom moved to respond to an article,” she gushed. “But this one was so unappealing, I had to write.”
A devotee named John couldn’t help but relay after reading “A farewell toast to America’s middle man” (Jan. 20, 2009) that he found my phenomenal powers with pen and paper inconceivably good. “Just read your article in the Aspen Times,” he said. “Yikes!”
In response to the same column, “jgately” suggested it would be generous for me to broaden my horizons by sharing my God-given gift with others. “Find a new day job,” he said.
And a booster named Bob was a considerable ally of that column, too, lending me much love and support by letting me know the topic was “really old news.” He was also kind enough to suggest a future subject. “How about something positive?” he asked helpfully.
One of my biggest fans, Christopher, often reacts strongly to my work and if possible, he might just have been more upset than me last year when I was overlooked for the Pulitzer. After “Sticks and stones may break my bones” was published on March 29, 2008, he expressed his sympathy for my loss by writing, “OK, you’re obviously crying out for some compliments so I’m going to fill the void … I love reading your column, and … [I] even forward it to my wife, except when it’s lame, like last week.”
But despite the Pulitzer snub, Christopher assures me my work is destined for awards nonetheless, saying, “[Your husband] will no doubt read [it] and realize that you are very depressed and bring you flowers to cheer you up.”
But who needs flowers when you have groupies like mine, especially the one who goes by the moniker “premiewithin.” She/he contacted me after “An open letter to Hillary Clinton” was published on June 7, 2008. “It is too bad that mean-spirited drivel passes for journalism today,” she/he enthused.
She/he also expressed her/his undying reverence for my body of work: “Please know that this reader, at least, does not appreciate it at all. If this is your authentic voice, then it becomes sad for both you and the readers.”
Another Meredith Pro Tem fanatic, Marilyn, e-mailed me after devouring “Nice shoes for an ‘Average Joe'” (Oct. 25, 2008), saying admiringly, “I usually read your column and find it mostly to be a fluff piece.”
“Mfitzgerald” admired my work in “Can Sarah do it all? You betcha!” (Oct. 11, 2008) so much that she/he generously concluded my daughter is an incredibly fortunate baby. “You’re a month into your first experiment with child rearing, and all of a sudden you’re an expert and qualified to critique somebody who has about 5 times your experience.”
And it’s exactly that experience plus a little je ne sais quoi that I know will lead me to Pulitzer gold next year. That is, if someone besides Steven Pearlstein could just remind me when it’s time to send in the entry.
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The past sneaks up on us in the strangest of ways, and I don’t mean bounty hunters flashing those “Wanted: Dead or Alive” posters in our faces.