A bedside (table) story
I have a bit of a confession: I am a bit of a snoop. What I mean is, I have always looked with interest on the personal environments of others as a way to learn more about someone. To be clear, I’m not opening drawers and going through medicine cabinets: I’m just looking about me at what is in plain view, such as what is on bookshelves or hanging on walls. You can imagine, then, how validating it was for me a few years back to discover the work of social psychologist and University of Texas at Austin professor Samuel D. Gosling and his book Snoop: What your stuff says about you. With all this in mind, I thought it might be fun to introduce bedside tables as a regular feature – and make snoops of us all! For this first bedside table post, I turned to A.M., a good friend.
When I think of the archetypal newspaper reporter, I always think of A.M.. He is and has always been the real deal. Beginning his career as a copyboy in (gasp!) Paris, he's had the kind of career most journalists can only dream about: reporting from hotspots overseas and at home and peaceful places in between, trying to describe how people live and, in some cases, die. Along the way, he racked up several Pulitzer nominations and authored 10 books. Having reported from war zones, it’s little wonder he took in stride my request for a snapshot of his bedside table. There were a few surprises.
What’s with the bear?
The teddy bear is from my childhood. He lived among my wife's substantial teddy bear collection. He's older now and celibate.
And is that a knife I see?
Yes. The knife is there because a bear broke into the house last year.
I need details.
About 2 am I heard noises from the kitchen and then my office. I was sleepy, then thought burglar. But the dogs were not barking. I sneaked down the hall, burst into the kitchen, never thinking to flick the light on. Saw a form going out the window. Yelled and swore at him.
Turned on lights. The kitchen screen was on the floor torn apart. My desk had been largely swept clear. I called the community patrol. He said, "Look around, anything missing?"
I looked. "Just two bags of bagels."
"You just had a bear visit."
Sure enough, in the morning beneath the deck were both bagel bags and a large pile of appreciative bear scat.