I had abandoned my plans to buy Sarah Palin's autobiography. You know how it is -- you hear about what is likely to be a great book and you get all ready to read it, but you don't quite pay attention to what day it's going to come out, and then all those critics get an early copy and before long everybody is already telling you about all the great stuff that's in the book and if you don't put your fingers in your ears and go la la la it's all spoiled.
Sometimes I wish everyone could just keep it to themselves for a week and give the rest of us a chance to experience something like this without having others make up our minds for us. But then, the author Herself went on tour and suddenly she was everywhere talking about her book and answering questions. So here we are a week or so later, and I just can't imagine anything older than Going Rogue.
So even though I'd taken it off my must have list, I was in a Costco over the weekend and there was a pile of several hundred of her books, all red and exciting on the end of a huge table. I have to admit, Frank Rich's insights notwithstanding, I was still drawn to pick one up. Maybe there was something about Ms. Palin that everyone had missed. Maybe the secret of her attraction would finally, suddenly, become dazzlingly clear to me.
I picked up a copy of the book and fanned it open to read a sample. Surely this was going to be as close as Sarah Palin and I were ever going to get in this life, so no question there was a little frisson in the air. I'm not kidding. Right there in the middle of Costco. Powerful something going on.
I looked at the page. I don't remember now exactly which one, but I was immediately struck by something peculiar. It just didn't look like a normal page in a book. Was it the typography? There were all these little verticals dancing all over the place. What the heck was going on? Was it the weird Costco lighting? Was I becoming dyslexic? Oh dog, please tell me it wasn't happening!
But then I saw what it was. The page was full of a great many freestanding uppercase 'I's. It was the most I have ever seen on a page. Fortunately, my wife has a peculiar genius for pattern recognition. I got her attention by showing her what I was reading. She gave me a look that said, "Are you okay?" But she came over and peered at the page I was pointing to. "See anything strange here?" In less than two seconds she saw it too. "'I's all over the place. I've never seen so many."
We counted them. Twenty-seven 'I's on a single page. Just for a reality check, I searched around for a comparable autobiography, and Ted Kennedy's True Compass fell conveniently to hand. We opened to a random page and counted the 'I's. Four. We tried another page. Twelve. Clearly the man cared too little about his subject. An ego piker, no question.
I felt Palin deserved an award of some kind for her achievement. I'll bet Sigmund Freud's best pals didn't run around Vienna calling him Siggy. Just didn't have the right sound. I'll bet they called him Ziggy. And that's the perfect name for the Best Achievement in Ego for 2009. Sarah Palin, your Ziggy is in the mail. Bigger than an Oscar and much, much brighter.
Fortunately, I turned to another page and found a little morsel from Sarah that was fresh for me, and I'd like to share it. She seems obsessed with killing and eating animals, and she's been oft quoted to the effect that she has a place for all of Alaska's endangered species. That'd be on her plate, right next to the mashed potatoes. Hilarious. But I found an even better quote from her: "If God had not intended for us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?" Sounds like something out of Jeffrey Dahmer's playbook, actually. And if you're Sarah's dog or cat or chubby little baby, downright terrifying.