I cannot recall ever having been called charming. The only evidence I have of my charm are the smiles and the laughter of family and friends and acquaintances, when I have been able to evoke them. The closest I have come in recent years to having an open avowal of my charm was the claim made by a publisher who invited me to a very expensive dinner at a now-defunct Chicago restaurant called Charlie Trotter’s. The morning after our dinner, he sent me an email saying that he was miffed by the fact that our conversation was so enjoyable that he couldn’t remember any of the wonderful food he had eaten the night before. A charming compliment, this, and one that suggests, now that I think about it, the publisher may well be more charming than I.
Some people are content to be charmed; others among us feel we must impose our charm, such as it is. I write “us,” for I have most of my life been among those who feel it incumbent upon themselves to assert what they believe is their charm, however minor it might be, in however circumspect a manner. Why do I feel it incumbent at all? I was not a boy that girls found especially appealing. I was a respectable but less than terrific athlete. As a student, I may be said not to have existed, finishing just above the lower quarter of my high-school class. As a field of successful endeavor, that left charm, or what, in my high-school days, passed for charm.
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