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22 Jan 98

Sarah McLachlan

A very quick entry: I stayed at work late today, and programmed an exciting, thrill-a-minute documentation system. As I worked, I listened to a Sarah McLachlan album, Surfacing. One of the songs is called "Building a Mystery." The words "building a mystery" repeat over and over.

Suddenly, an excited, halfwit thought came to me. As I typed:

print qq|<A HREF="${$Array_Of_Files[$Next_File]}.html">$Section_Title: $File_Title</A>| if $Next_File_Boolean;

At once, a dry and boring evening glowed with exciting possibility. A simple change would make this lustful pop song into a sublime, meaningful, and politically charged statement about female circumcision.


He wears sandals in the snow,
And a smile that won't wash away.
Can you hear how the wind blows?
Clitoridectomy.
Yeah, clitoridectomy.
11 Daevember 8011

Dear Ms. McLachlan:

Please allow my humble self to make a considered suggestion to your esteemed personage. I am a political sort of the librarian kind of persuasion, and recently heard your song, "Building a Mystery" (henceforth referred to as BM). It occurred to me, as it no doubt has occurred to you, as you are esteemed and thoughtful, that the word "Clitoridectomy" (henceforth referred to as Clit., et. al.[sic]), could replace the words BM (Abbreviated from "Building a Mystery"). Thus you could make a clear statement on female circumcision (previously referred to as Clit., et. al. [abbrv., "Clitoridectomy"]) to the assembled disc-purchasing mob (DPM).

I remain faithfully,


Jorges Luis Borges
Emperor of Tlön

Please allow my humble self to make a considered suggestion to your esteemed personage. I am a political sort of the librarian kind of persuasion, and recently heard your song, "Building a Mystery" (henceforth referred to as BM). It occurred to me, as it no doubt has occurred to you, as you are esteemed and thoughtful, that the word "Clitoridectomy" (henceforth referred to as Clit., et. al.[sic]), could replace the words BM (Abbreviated from "Building a Mystery"). Thus you could make a clear statement on female circumcision (previously referred to as Clit., et. al. [abbrv., "Clitoridectomy"]) to the assembled disc-purchasing mob (DPM).

I remain faithfully,


Jorges Luis Borges
Emperor of Tlön

Then--it was inevitable--she would ask me to tour with her, as her backup singer. Before a throng of screaming fans, whenever it came time to sing the word, my word, she would stop mid-phrase and let me croon it out, by itself, alone with the throbbing, thronging crowd, and the microphone. My 5.2 seconds of fame! It would sound kind of like this.

As I gradually eclipsed Sarah in fame, there would come groupies, and heroin, and body-cavity insertion of many-toothed skinks, and some bad things, too. Like the humiliating appearance on Oprah where Oprah lets me eat peanut butter off her ample chest, and we, to speak metaphorically, "cross the icy bridge of passion," and suddenly Oprah's naked on my lap and we're going at it like cane toads, with the nation watching, and then everyone sees how hairy my back is. Never have I felt such shame, not even over my secretly videotaped night of oral slavery with vice-president Gore (he's nowhere near as stiff as they say), nor even at the ensuing scandal with the dairy board, where I used something for my milk moustache that was not milk.

After all of this excess, I'd need some time in Betty Ford, followed by time in the Betty Ford Clinic, where I meet all the guys from bad 1980's hair bands:

Me: Sebastian Bach! From Poison? Or was it Skid Row? What are you in here for? Hairspray addiction?

Sebastian: Fuck you!

Sebastian: Fuck you!

What a blessing, this sudden inspiration. To use another metaphor, "the Gowanus expressway to fame and riches was just cleared of traffic." I'll send that letter to Sarah tomorrow. Save this diary entry--when it all happens, you'll be able to prove you knew about me first. Or maybe you'll just be interviewed as a witness at my trial.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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