И еще один потрясающий и очень важный для понимания характера Вуди фрагмент:

I was the cynosure of my mother’s five sisters, the only male child, the darling of these sweet yentas who fussed over me. I never missed a meal, nor wanted for clothing or shelter, never fell prey to any serious illness like polio, which was rampant. I didn’t have Down syndrome like one kid in my class, nor was I hunchback like little Jenny or afflicted with alopecia like the Schwartz kid. I was healthy, popular, very athletic, always chosen first for teams, a ball player, a runner, and yet somehow I managed to turn out nervous, fearful, an emotional wreck, hanging on by a thread to my composure, misanthropic, claustrophobic, isolated, embittered, impeccably pessimistic. Some people see the glass half empty, some see it half full. I always saw the coffin half full. Of the thousand natural shocks the flesh was heir to, I managed to avoid most except number six eighty-two—no denial mechanism. My mother said she couldn’t figure it out. She always claimed I was a nice, sweet, cheerful boy till around five, and then I changed into a sour, nasty, disgruntled, rotten kid.

And yet there was no trauma in my life, no awful thing that occurred and turned me from a smiling, freckle-faced lad with a fishing pole and pantaloons into a chronically dissatisfied lout. My own speculation centers around the fact that at five or so, I became aware of mortality and figured, uh-oh, this is not what I signed on for. I had never agreed to be finite. If you don’t mind, I’d like my money back. As I got older, not just extinction but the meaninglessness of existence became clearer to me. I ran into the same question that bugged the former prince of Denmark: Why suffer the slings and arrows when I can just wet my nose, insert it into the light socket, and never have to deal with anxiety, heartache, or my mother’s boiled chicken ever again? Hamlet chose not to because he feared what might happen in an afterlife, but I didn’t believe in an afterlife, so given my utterly dismal appraisal of the human condition and its painful absurdity, why go on with it? In the end, I couldn’t come up with a logical reason why and finally came to the conclusion that as humans, we are simply hardwired to resist death. The blood trumps the brain. No logical reason to cling to life, but who cares what the head says— the heart says: Have you seen Lola in a miniskirt? As much as we whine and moan and insist, often quite persuasively, that life is a pointless nightmare of suffering and tears, if a man suddenly entered the room with a knife to kill us, we instantly react. We grab him and fight with every ounce of our energy to disarm him and survive. (Personally, I run.) This, I submit, is a property strictly of our molecules. By now you’ve probably figured out not only I’m no intellectual but also no fun at parties.

Incidentally, it is amazing how often I am described as “an intellectual.” This is a notion as phony as the Loch Ness Monster as I don’t have an intellectual neuron in my head. Illiterate and uninterested in things scholarly, I grew up the prototype of the slug who sits in front of the TV, beer in hand, football game going full blast, Playboy centerfold Scotch-taped to the wall, a barbarian sporting the tweeds and elbow patches of the Oxford don. I have no insights, no lofty thoughts, no understanding of most poems that do not begin, “Roses are red, violets are blue.” What I do have, however, is a pair of black-rimmed glasses, and I propose that it is these specs, combined with a flair for appropriating snippets from erudite sources too deep for me to grasp but which can be utilized in my work to give the deceptive impression of knowing more than I do that keeps this fairy tale afloat.

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