this was going somewhere some time - I just can't remember where.


Once at five years old, Toby got lost in a mall. All he remembers about it is an unending forest of legs, people with heads and mouths so high.

One day in third grade, Toby froze up on a spelling bee. He stared at the teacher and couldn't think up the first letter of "paradigm", never mind the spelling. The teacher took pity on him and asked the next child, but Toby found himself sitting alone, at recess, and rewriting the word until it was burned onto his eyelids, until it was indelibly scratched into his very neurons.

It's funny, because he hasn't been able to use the word his entire adult life. Being a speechwriter, it's assumed that most of America is too stupid to know what it means.


"You want a bagel?" Josh says, and for a moment Toby stops going through mental lists of potential running mates in '02. Gillette wouldn't do it, Anderson wouldn't get the votes. He can't think of someone that fits better than Hoynes, even if Hoynes hates their guts.



"You know, Toby," Josh says, "NASA says that by 2006 they're going to have a telescope that can see Jupiter sized planets hundreds of light years away."

"For the love of God, Josh," Toby tells him, "do not tell the President that."

"You think he'd get into it, huh?"

There'd be no way to convince Gillette, he'd rather run with the Speaker than them; Gillette hated politicians. This was the thing - "shut up," Toby says - the bagel or not takes up five seconds, NASA takes up less than that, and then he's back to it. He can't help it, sometimes there's that thing that you have to try and figure out whether you can or not.