April 07, 2005

Latest Fad: Death

We’re in the car listening to a 1989 Terry Gross “Fresh Air” interview with Saul Bellow. Terry introduces it by saying that Bellow died the other day.

“Who are they talking about?” a fourth-grader in the back of the car immediately wants to know. I explain that it was a writer.

As we cross the intersection, the second-grader in the car notices a huge American flag at half-staff in front of a gas station. The flag looks almost as big as the gas station itself.

“Why’s the flag low?” he asks.

“For Saul Bellow,” the fourth-grader says.

No, I explain, for the Pope.

"A lot of people have been dying lately," the fourth-grader observes.

“Yeah, like that priest,” the second-grader says.

“The Pope,” I explain.

“It seems to be happening more and more,” the fourth grader says.