San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Of Skeletons in Closets

HAVINGreached an agewhen the onlyimportant taskremaining is tocompose a flatteringeulogy andfind a reliable oratorto deliver it, Iwas not pleased toreceive a delegationrepresentingmy numerous offspringdemandingthat I write myautobiography, with special reference tomy own ancestors. Of course, no onecould possibly object to being immortalized,particularly when it is oneself who isdoing the immortalizing, but I could foreseeonly a load of research when all Iwanted was to polish up my eulogy.Moreover, having done nothing of particularinterest to the general public, I couldhardly hope to achieve a circulationexceeding a dozen or so copies.So, being of a basically suspiciousnature, I insisted on knowing the reasonfor this imposition. I scarcely needed toask, as the dusty answer I got was that Ihad always been too busy to tell themabout their forebears, and now was maybethe last opportunity they had to learnsomething about their roots. This soundedlike pretty thin gruel to me, and aftermaking a few inquiries, the real reasonbegan to emerge.It seemed they were all politicallyactive and approaching the stage wherethe possibility of election to high officewas beginning to exert its usual fascination.So they wanted to be sure therewere no skeletons in the family closetthat might be dug out by unprincipledopponents.This sounded like a far more credibleexplanation; so, subject to a sworn agreementthat they would collectively absorball costs while I would receive any profits,I agreed to undertake the project.But it soon became clear that it wasn’tgoing to be easy. I had barely finished the100th page when I received another visitfrom the delegation requiring a review ofprogress. When I revealed that I had onlygot up to the age of four in the first 100pages, there was an immediate storm ofprotest. Being exclusively linear thinkers,they calculated that the complete workwould run 2,000 pages or more, making itthe most expensive autobiography to publishon record. Also, they added, no onecould possibly remember in such detailanything that happened before the age offour, which was when I first started to usewords coherently.Consequently, said the delegation, thefirst 100 pages must be pure fiction, andthat being so, I could not be trusted to tellthe truth in the following 1,900. Thus, allbets were off, and they would hire a professionalbiographer to dig out the dirt, ifany was to be found. Needless to say, thiswas music to my ears, as it released me toget on with my eulogy. But my feelingshad been hurt, and I was not going to letthem get away scot-free. The biographerwill have to get a lot of unpublished informationdirectly from me, and the scandalousdoings I plan to reveal will makethem regret the day they ever thoughtabout public office.

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