24th February 2001

While I’m away, you should read McSweeny’s.

Strange and Obsessive Things I Did as a Kid in No Particular Order

Age 9:

Developed a fascination with TV Guide, specifically the
listings. Spent hours copying them onto loose-leaf
notebook paper – just the titles of shows, not
descriptions, and with the times bumped up several
hours to make it more interesting.

Age 8:

Learned how the Roman numeral system worked.
Subsequently filled a notebook by writing every Roman
numeral, in order, from I (one) to MMM (three

Age 4:

Owned a magnetic board with a matching set of
multi-colored letters of the alphabet. Storage conditions
for the letters, dictated by me, required that they be
arranged – yes – in alphabetical order, in a perfect
5-by-5 grid, with Z being remaindered to the side
compartment. I would only retire to bed once these
storage conditions were met, for a period of some
months. During active play, I would make abstract
patterns on the board with the letters; never actual

Ann Landers’ Parallel Universe

Dear Ann:

I hope you have room to print just one more of those
“how we met” stories. I was a young woman growing up
in Bombay, adventurous, strong-willed and determined
not to settle down until I had seen the world. One night
while attending a small gathering at a neighbor’s home, I
saw a stoop-shouldered, plain-looking man of about 25
standing at the side of the room holding a drink and not
talking to anyone. When I walked up and tried to start a
conversation with him, he handed me his empty drink
and motioned to the bottle of wine sitting in the corner.
As I was refilling his cup, I asked my father in a whisper
who this rude, arrogant person was. “That’s Rajiv
Sankar, the man you’re going to marry,” he replied. “It
was arranged between our families right after your birth.
You should get used to waiting on him.” Well, Ann, I’ve
been at his service for 40 years, and we’ve never been
apart-not even after I brought shame on him twice by
giving birth to baby girls.

Proposed Indian Names for Certain White People

Buys Plants For Companionship,

Comments On How Wonderful Bread Is,

Considers Soup Selects Salad,

Examines Skin For Moles,

Fixes Paper Jams,

Insists Pizza And Beer’s On Me,

Invents New Persona,

Proffers Swiss Army Knife When Inappropriate,

Prunes Roses,

Raises Voice In Anger Then Gets Sheepish,

Reconsiders Skydiving As Possible Hobby,

Recycles Same Joke With Different Friends,

Searches Flea Market For Treasure,

Thinks Of Self As Buddhist,

Wants To Hang Out,

Wears Matching Bra And Panties.