Friday, May 17, 2013

the last book I ever read (Remembering Denny by Calvin Trillin, excerpt eleven)

from Remembering Denny by Calvin Trillin:

Denny was close to the Semples in the early sixties, and he remained close until Bob, who had moved from The National Observer to The New York Times, was transferred to New York. For several years, Denny and Carol Austin would go to the Semples’ for Christmas dinner. He was the old charming Denny at dinner. Carol Austin says that after what was often a grumpy ride over to the Semples’ house in Cleveland Park, she could see him rev up his group personality as they stood outside the front door. But at some point, Semple told me, “He had these conversations with Susan and me: ‘Jesus, I’m twenty-five years old and I’m a Senate aide.’ We’d have these long discussions. Essentially, he was asking two friends: What should I be doing? Then, all of a sudden, something didn’t work out somewhere and he said he was going to Cleveland to work in television. That was, I think, the moment. I think we both thought, Uh-oh. The guy’s at sea. He had lost his bearings in this quest for a career that by all rights should have come out of Yale and the Rhodes scholarship. I thought, The guy’s lost it, and it’s too early to lose it.”

Of course, it’s common for people in their twenties to have crises of confidence. It’s common for people in their twenties to worry about whether they’re in the right field after all. Someone familiar with attendance patterns at Yale class reunions once told me that attendance drops appreciably from the tenth reunion, which normally draws a large crowd, to the fifteenth. There are, of course, a number of theories to explain that—including the theory that physical deterioration, particularly among males, seems to accelerate in one’s early and middle thirties. The theory favored by my informant, though, was that by the time the fifteenth reunion comes around—the graduates are now, say, thirty-six or thirty-seven—someone is pretty set in the sort of career he’s going to have. He’s in his slot, and it may be apparent how far he has or hasn’t moved in it. It is too late to show up as a promising young man who has not quite found himself. It is too late to say casually over a drink that you might decide to go to law school after all.

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