I’d known for years that Christopher Buckley was an amusing man. His novel Thank You for Smoking (1994), for example, had me crying, yes crying, with laughter. But it wasn’t until we happened to be at a dinner party at the impressive townhouse of a well-known female philanthropist that I witnessed the spontaneous flowering of his comic genius. The two of us were chatting with our host when the subject of exotic travel came up. Christo ventured that he had just returned from Nootka and wondered, eyes gleaming, how my recent trip there had turned out. I ran with it. I allowed as how my journey, too, had been profitable, though of course the political situation was worrisome. Our host nodded. There proceeded a detailed description of our separate exploits in that far-off kingdom, while our host smiled bravely and continued nodding as we inveigled her ever deeper into that Romantic destination. “You have a house in Nootka, I believe?” Christo asked at one point, accepting a spot more Chardonnay. Our host, a woman of many properties on several continents, was by now in deep waters. “Do I?” she asked, “Do I?” She twirled the wine glass thoughtfully.
You can’t blame her. It really is difficult to keep these things straight. Christo kept Nootka afloat for a good ten or 15 minutes until the dinner gong deposited us among other guests. We return to Nootka whenever events involve us in e-mail correspondence — I am pleased to report that I was recently named Under Secretary to the Assistant Minister of Grace and Favor Residences (without portfolio) — and hope to induce certain acquaintances to consider it as a retirement spot.