I am addicted to the New York Times.
After the Inauguration on Tuesday (only two more days till Bush’s helicopter leaves Washington!), I am going to give up home delivery of the Times—not reading the Times, just having it delivered and reading it first thing in the morning. I am getting spoiled, sipping coffee in a chair by the window with a fat cat purring on my lap. I should be out there shivering behind the wheel of a parked car.
When I first subscribed to the Times, which I have done on and off for the past four years, the first issue that landed on my threshold proclaimed the victory of George W. Bush in the 2004 election. I wanted to cancel immediately. Now that we have Obama, I will be overjoyed to look on the President’s face. But the New York Times is like a drug: it sets up a vibe in my head that makes it impossible for me to think my own thoughts in the morning, and I have newly resolved to be my own barometer.
The Times stories about Obama in the days leading up to the Inauguration and about the miraculous Hudson River jet landing with no loss of life, thanks to the pilot and the local ferryboats, have been bringing tears to my eyes the past couple of days. The Quotation of the Day in today’s Times should have been “You’re never too old to toot the horn” (Obama on the train ride to Washington). And the most touching, burblingly humorous detail of the jet-in-the-Hudson story, to me, was this, from an article by James Barron in Friday’s Times (Jan. 16, 2009):
“Many passengers rushed toward the back, thinking that was where the emergency exits were, [Bill] Zuhoski said, but that part of the fuselage seemed to be sinking, and flooding, faster. ‘I started to get, you know, close to my neck underwater. I just thought I was going to drown right there.’
“He stripped down to his underwear, the better to swim to safety. As the crowd thinned out, he crawled across the top of the seats and clambered out. He said he believed he was one of the last people off the plane, and he swam to a dinghy that was bobbing in the Hudson.
“Everyone else in the dingy had their clothes, and everyone was dry.”
Is it O.K. to laugh? After all, everyone survived, and when Zuhoski got to the dingy to huddle with the other passengers, “each peeled off something to outfit him.“ Anyway, the laugh is involuntary, and filled with fellow-feeling and relief. Imagine being the guy, who, on top of being rescued from a jetliner sinking in the Hudson River, was the only one who took his clothes off. It’s like that moment in a dream when you are onstage, or in front of a classroom, or leaning over the photocopier at the office, and you realize suddenly that you’re in your underwear. Only, Zuhoski wasn’t dreaming.
I am probably going to relapse and keep home delivery during the first week of the new Administration. I don’t want to miss coverage of the Inauguration. Or further details about the miracle in the Hudson.