The Weekly Standard: America's greatest essayist, Joseph Epstein, on hitting eighty. An excerpt:
I was lucky (again) to have come of age when there was still a military draft, which gave me two years between leaving school and having to go out into the world. I began writing in earnest in the Army and published my first bits of journalism while there at the age of 22. In the Army, too, while at dreary Fort Hood in Texas, I put in for the job of clerk typist at a recruiting station either in Little Rock, Arkansas, or Shreveport, Louisiana. I was told by a gruff first sergeant that one of these jobs was mine and that I had a choice, Shreveport or Little Rock. With perhaps a half-second to answer, I blurted out, "Little Rock, Sergeant." In Little Rock, I met and married my first wife, with whom I had my two sons. What, I have often wondered, if I had said "Shreveport, Sergeant"?