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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Untold Story. By John von Daler

                     You remember #Bartleby the Scrivener by #Melville? Bartleby went crazy because he read all the letters that never reached their destinations; they landed instead on his desk in the Dead Letter Office. That's what not following a story through to the end can do to you:

                "#Yale doesn't love you, but I do!" shouted my mother as I came in the door after school one day in 1961. I had been waiting for letters from colleges I had applied to. I ran up the stairs thinking, Her voice sounds too happy for it to have been a rejection. She handed me the envelope when I reached the kitchen. I opened it and it was an acceptance after all. I think I did a running, hopping circuit of the house for about fifteen minutes non-stop.
                Then I removed the postcard addressed to the Yale office of admissions and sat an X by Yes, I would like to attend Yale from the fall of 1962.
                We celebrated that night and I think even Dad smiled a while, even though he was going to have to foot the not so small bill that would accompany my attendance.
                The next day a new letter arrived with an acceptance from #Princeton. I threw it aside. After all, I used to cry myself to sleep when Mom sang the Yale #Whippenpoof song for me. Those poor little lambs touched me deeply. So much for literal interpretations of misleading lyrics.
                Mom found the Princeton letter on the desk and said, "Why don't you visit both places again before you answer?"
                "But I've already signed the one to Yale!" I moaned.
                "Come on. We could change that if you decide to go to Princeton."
                So she and I drove first from Norwalk to New Haven and saw the urban campus in the middle of the city. Then we drove to New Jersey to the suburban pastoral in Princeton.
                By the time we got there it was night. Lights were on and guys were studying at their desks. It was quiet. Only the sound of a piano being practiced somewhere accompanied the soft light from the dorm windows and the electric lanterns on the walkways crisscrossing the grass. Debussy it was, I think, probably "La Fille aux Cheveux de Lin".
                As we crossed the campus somebody opened a window and yelled, "Oh, the hell with it!" and closed it again. Then everything went completely quiet. Everybody went back to their books.
                I was in love. We drove back to Connecticut and I got out my eraser and worked on the Yale "yes" until it disappeared in a scruffy indentation in the surface of the paper. Then I put my X on the Princeton letter and went to sleep.
                The next day we sent both letters from a postbox at the bottom of Comstock Hill Road.
                I, who love to tell tales, have wondered ever since what the person in the admissions office at Yale thought of the nasty hole by the "Yes" box on the card - and the heavy X by the "No" box. That person must have thought, Now there's a story in there someplace. I wonder what happened? Hope he survived more happily than Bartleby without the rest of the story.


Tomorrow, Thursday Nov. 21, there will be no blog.
You can read an excerpt from my new book, Pieces: A Life in Eight Movements and a Prelude (WiDo Publishing) at my Facebook page: "Like" the page to receive coming blogs and excerpts automatically.
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