Those who know my wife, Phyllis, know that she is a larger-than-life personality. Those who know me, know that I am not. We are the poster children for Opposites Attract. I’ve often said that Phyllis can strike up a conversation with a fencepost, and get the post to do most of the talking!
Every time she walks down the editorial hallway, the productivity of the department drops to near zero and the happiness quotient rises to about ninety-seven as she engages everyone in cheerful, boisterous repartee. You immediately know she is there whenever she walks into a room–and usually before.
She loves to laugh and is happy to laugh about herself as much as anything else. So when it comes to joking around, she presents an oversized target.
As I thought about how I would dedicate a book I was writing many years ago, Phyllis was the only option for me. But how to do it was the question. The dedication could be very simple: “To Phyllis.”
Or, as sometimes happens in books, it could get very elaborate and involved. Even abstruse mathematical texts can be adorned with the most rococo dedications, festooned with florid passages of appreciation for the one without whom the book could not have come to pass.
I ended up choosing, “To Phyllis, my love.” Elegant in its simplicity but heartfelt, it seemed to me. She willingly took care of the kids one night a week while I labored on the book over a period of a year. I was grateful for that, of course. But also for so much more.
That’s not, however, what I told her would be the dedication. No. I had to string her along with something else, something a bit more befitting, shall I say, her reputation. I told her the dedication would be this:
To Phyllis, who helped me write
It wasn’t until the book was published that she found out that wasn’t the actual dedication. We still laugh about it. And laughing with Phyllis is still one of my great delights.