The Corner

The Great Uncharmed

Readers are witnessing to me: “Derb—Clinton attended a funeral at my

(Southern Baptist) church in KY. There was some (quiet) talk about even

having him there, as a lot of people objected to him as a person. My father

and I all but locked Mom away, who was to sing in the choir that day. Both

my parents are preachers’ kids, to give you an idea of our lineage.

Anyways, Mom came home talking about what a nice man Clinton was and about

his charm. Dad and I were dumbfounded.”

I call this the Phone Booth Effect. In my first year at university, I lived

in lodgings in London, in a house where I had no access to a phone. I’d

left a girlfriend in my home town, and used to call her a couple of times a

week. To do this, I left the house and walked up the street to a public

phone box — in those days in England, a real box, enclosed on all sides,

but mostly with glass so you could see inside.

One evening I went to the phone box and there was a woman in there talking

on the phone. I waited. She talked. It started to drizzle. It was cold.

I waited and waited. She talked and talked.

I started to seethe, and tried to direct angry glances at her through the

door, cicling the phone box to catch her eye. I actually started to *hate*

this woman — quite unknown to me — for the discomfort & inconvenience she


PHONE WHEN PEOPLE WERE WAITING TO USE IT. I was on the point of flinging

open the door and dragging her out bodily.

Then she hung up, stepped out, smiled the sweetest smile at me, and said:

“I’m terribly sorry to have kept you waiting so long.”

Derb: “No, no, it’s perfectly all right…”


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