|Photo from Burritt on the Mountain in Huntsville. Alabama.|
David Brooks trotted out his humor-column machine for the first time in a long while, for a piece ("The Moral Indecency of the Away Message"), where the conceit was going to be parody out-of-office messages, but he could only think of one, revealing his suspicion that people who set their email to send an automatic response when they're on vacation are really trying to avoid him while they're available to more important people, like this fantasy correspondent:
As you know, away messages are the most dishonest form of modern communications. When we say we are away on vacation, we actually mean we are on vacation from people who need us more than we need them. If you are the sort of person I normally suck up to, you should know that my sucking up takes no breaks. For you, I am totally plugged in.He needs to get over that.
Then there's the difficulty of redeeming one's frequent flier miles, which he seems to have confused with the difficulty of resetting a forgotten password, an issue I sympathize with, but it's so padded with distracting improbabilities that it sinks:
To get started, we are going to send a 37-digit verification code to a phone number you last used during the Reagan administration. Please teleport yourself in time, find the chocolate-toned three-piece suit with the Qiana fake silk shirt you thought was attractive at that time, and retrieve the verification number from the car phone in your old green Trans Am.If it's the number of the car phone, why would you want the suit? Just to add another 20 words to the column.
Finally, an email from an opinion columnist to a long-ago acquaintance who's asking for a favor:
From the first paragraph of your note, I never predicted that in the second you were going to mention the book you have coming out next month. Yes, I agree, the Trump immigration policy provides a perfect peg for me to write a column on your history of Dutch basket weaving in the 16th century.
No, I’m afraid I don’t have an email address for Terry Gross, the host of “Fresh Air.” I agree, they’ve done shockingly little on the late Renaissance Flemmish craft movement.Brooksie's book is coming out in April, so do you suppose he's been shopping it to everybody in the opinionist world and getting out-of-office brush-offs from all of them? Or should we take this as David Brooks himself responding to all the requests he gets from people asking him to puff their books—a kind of indirect admission that puffing acquaintances' books is around half of what he does with his column, but of course only for "the sort of person I normally suck up to," speaking of moral indecency?
If my eye hadn't gotten caught by the misspelled "Flemish" I don't suppose I'd have read the thing at all, but what are you going to do?