I find awkward, and I know (courtesy of www.bash.org
) that some people deplore the habit of, constantly referring in one's blog to 'a friend' or some such (rather than naming said friend). If there are other people in my story, it makes back-references difficult -- the constant refrain of 'my friend', 'that friend', 'the friend I mentioned' &c. is difficult to decipher -- if not actually impossible when, for example, talking about two anonymous friends (fortunately, given my social life, an unlikelihood). However, since keeping excessive personally identifying information (at that, information that personally identifies other, possibly non-consenting, people) out of one's blog -- especially a blog as coast-to-coast popular as this one -- seems to be a good idea, I've been at a bit of a loss for how to resolve this problem. I was recently reading a blog -- of course I realise that that attribution is no more specific than 'a friend', but I really don't remember what its name was -- which used the convention of referring to people by an initial. Therefore, in the fond hope that I never have to know more than 25 people (for of course 'I' is already taken!), and that my acquaintances will have the good sense not to cluster around any letter of the alphabet, I take the bold step of declaring that, hereinafter, I will call my wife M, and the friend mentioned in my post "The dexterity of Loren" A.
Anyway -- my 'mentor' (the title given here to the senior faculty member who plays the role of advisor to a junior faculty member such as myself), who, in the spirit of things, I will call S, recently came by my office to talk about a paper of his I'm reading. He noticed when he came by that I had a table-tennis racquet (paddle? -- I'm never quite sure, but Wikipedia, that faultless font of information, says the former), and asked had I in fact bought one of my own (as opposed to using one of the many which are in the room by the table tennis table (well, what would you call it?) downstairs), to which (sparkling conversationalist that I am) I replied that, yes, I had. In fact, A and I had made an even bigger purchase on the day we bought racquets, at which I will hint as follows: The instruments needed for table tennis (once table and net are in place) are, essentially, two, one of which I have already mentioned, and the other of which it is useful to have in collections of six or so. We bought a packet of six of these and, since there seemed to be no point in splitting them up, we left all six in A's office. Thus it was that I nearly added "I've finally got some balls of my own, too, but A is holding them for me." Fortunately I reconsidered.