I am an avid consumer of personal columns. When Stanton Delaplane and Charles McCabe were alive, I read their columns in the San Francisco Chronicle. Now I read Jon Carroll and Adair Lara in that generated and veneered journal, and the woman whose boyfriend broke his back rock climbing and the woman with the triplet girls in diapers.
At one time or another, most of them (especially Adair Lara) have struggled with the question of privacy. How much can you say about your children in such a column, with or without their permission?
Case in point: Marlow e-mailed something to me last week that I consider quite sweet. Of course, it might have been ironic or sarcastic, but I choose to believe it was unconsciously sweet and rather innocent for a woman of 18 on her own in New York City. I await her permission to share the anecdote with you. In the meantime, I feel constrained from using it, and even a little awkward mentioning it in this vague way here.
Of course, there is no requirement for candor. I could be an unreliable narrator. I could (and might, and maybe have already) embellish my life for dramatic purposes. I don't even have to write about my wife, my children or my cats. Not to mention my job (which I don't, much).
But then there is the matter of there being no column, and not even so much as an e-mail apology for the lack of a column.
This is how it begins. I have seen it happen to others, to Dan Rosenbaum and to Robert Seidman. First you miss a column or two, then you go a month, and pretty soon a weekly appointment becomes an occasional appointment, and then it becomes no appointment at all.
It's not even as if I was out of town, or swamped last weekend. If Vicki were writing this column, she'd have had a good excuse; she was at the Russian River Jazz festival with her old friend Linda Lawless. I was home with Rae. We spent Saturday running errands, buying paint, and hanging around the Metreon, where Rae saw Miracle Men for the first time and I saw it for the second.
Sunday, I spent a couple of hours arranging a new bill-paying and accounting system. I took Rae out to breakfast and then to her first Drivers' Ed class (a month of Sundays--literally). I could have gotten in there and written this column. I didn't.
I've got all the usual excuses--my job is harder, so I need to relax harder on the weekends, I didn't have much to say, the dog ate my homework--wait, we don't have a dog. OK, both cats are now climbing up on Vicki's lap. They never do that for me. But I'm not bitter.
I am going to rededicate myself to finding the time to write this weekly missive. Because it is about the only writing left in my life now that I am a double-barreled editor, because writing has always defined me, and because many of you keep reading it and I appreciate that.