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on the downward side of the age mountain.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

My Romance with the Times

I have a secret (and soon to be exposed) fetish- I love the NYT (New York Times). It started over a summer in New Jersey. I don’t know the year- it could have been the summer I traveled alone by train from Iowa to New Jersey or another time, but I do know the B.O.B. (Burst of Brilliance).

I was sitting at my grandfather’s kitchen table. A non-descript faux colonial wooden table with barrel shaped chairs. In front of us billions of words and piles of papers were languishing. There was the sensational NY Daily, Philadelphia Inquirer, New Jersey Star Ledger, Daily Record. Hidden underneath the glossy adds and comics was the NYT. It was complete. It was untouched.

I don’t know why I grabbed that paper- perhaps it was because no one else had claimed it. The front page had a center picture in black and white. I dropped the paper in my lap and removed the first section. As I opened the first page my eyes fell on the upper right corner and a Tiffany’s add for jewelry, this habit continues.

As I laboriously read the paper I realized its tone was removed and analytical lacking the!! points and sensationalism that other papers possessed. At the time I couldn’t perceive the political bent or slight liberal persuasion, I just found it refreshingly dry and “tailored” to my point of view.

Sitting at the table that summer Sunday with my grandfather, I felt we were exploring the news together. My grandfather, a slight man who was quite wealthy always dressed in a matching Sears khaki or green shirt and pant outfit. Brown belt resting high on his waist, brown tie-up shoes and always snow white socks. His top shirt pockets were full. The left one held a pocket protector filled with pens and pencils. The right held his soft pack of Camel cigarettes and non-descript matches.

On the table his ever lit Camel was resting to the left in an ashtray and a Stangl coffee cup and saucer held black coffee. Of course we never spoke that day in the kitchen and I have no clue what he read in the mounds of papers in front of him but it was a quiet time that sealed my affair with the NYT.

My affair grew in college. I would scrape up quarters to by certain editions that I couldn’t live without. Fox Butterfield “wrote” me articles about China as I studied Asian history. I eagerly clipped Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey’s recipes not realizing it was a slice of culinary history taking place.

Shortly after I met the NSSP (see second entry for term) he was wooing me with a future in Grand Rapids, MI and away from my favorite city, Boston. Having lived in the mid-west I had few questions about my future there. I did want to know if we would be able to get the Sunday NYT. There would be no trip down the aisle without the NYT. Lacking computers, a phone call answered my question and off we went to seek our fortunes.

The paper wasn’t delivered to our door so a weekly trek to our little village and bookstore quickly became our family’s Sunday “church” amid the dedicated Christian Reform natives crowding the streets. At first it was hand-in-hand with NSSP. Later we walked with the Princess in her stroller as she randomly tested her vocabulary on each bump. Later we graduated to family bicycles and a goal of going from point A to point B without falling down.All to retrieve my beloved paper.

We’ve had several opportunities to live in different places, but the first and foremost question was if the NYT could be delivered. There was a brief time when we lived in New Jersey. Living in NJ and receiving the NYT was like getting its news in real time. If I read a review I could fantasize a trip to NYC. Museum event? No problem- 4-star restaurant- give me the phone. The reality of our lifestyle didn’t allow too many dips into NYC culture but to fantasize about going was “awesome”.

Today I live on the edge and each day I crawl to the top our driveway to retrieve my blue bagged newspaper. Yes, I could get it online but I would be missing “my” Tiffany ad on the upper right.

I love the blue plastic bag. Each day it announces a new weekly section. Monday is the sport section (the only part I overlook) and a little Metro department where people contribute their NYC observations. Tuesday is the Science section and Jane Brody always discusses timely topics with me. Wednesday holds the food section, and the amazing restaurant reviews by Frank Bruni.Thursday is a busy day with a circuits section hidden in the business section, a house and garden section And a fashion and style section! So what could be better? The Friday escapes and the two arts sections; one for the movies and the other for the museum openings. I coast into the weekend with Saturday’s stripped down paper and a few human interest articles. Finally it’s Sunday and a world of news awaits me.

My kitchen table today, a black marble rectangle that rarely sees the light of day, resembles my grandfather’s table from long ago. Mounds of reading matter wait to be read through the now necessary reading glasses and my mug of coffee.

Read and Explore!

Queen Art-o-Eat

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