By Randy Cohen
The list is: "Someone to Watch Over Me," "The Rare Coin," and "The Metaphysics of Oscar Hammerstein." List of what?
by noon ET Tuesday to e-mail your answer (email@example.com).
Responses to Wednesday's question (No. 98)--"A and Q":
The answer, from David Kendall, the president's lawyer, is: "This was to preserve personal privacy and institutional dignity."
What's the question?
"Why does the president even bother wearing pants?"--Mark Nielsen
"Can you explain the Hooters franchise secretly operating in the Map Room?"--Beth Sherman
"Why did we bomb Afghanistan and Sudan?"--Jim Hopkins
"Why did Hillary Clinton mysteriously disappear last night?"--Ananda Gupta
"David, could you please explain why the president lied to the nation and allowed his closest friends and advisers to rack up obscene legal bills all because he couldn't keep his hands off an intern scarcely older than his own daughter, in a single sentence, using the words 'privacy' and 'dignity' and maintaining a straight face? (To his credit, Kendall managed to do so. That's why he's making $500 an hour, and you're not.)"--Tim Carvell
Click for more responses.
The presidential precision in defining who gave and who received sexual favors is not unlike the dubious rationalizations of ad hoc prison homosexuality. For certain practices, the catcher remains officially straight while the pitcher is rendered instantly gay, a kind of erotic alchemy. For other acts, those who "do" remain straight, while those who are "done to" become gay. His ability to make fine distinctions may serve the president well, should the situation deteriorate and prison loom. But perhaps he will be spiritually transformed by this affair. (He did say that this matter is now between him and his wife, his daughter, and--in a surprise guest appearance--his god.) In which case he may prefer more Christian counsel: It's better to give than to receive.
Legally Correct Answer, i.e., Question
Why did the president withhold certain information about his sexual practices with Monica Lewinsky?
2:40--The Ronettes' "Be My Baby"
4:10--The president's "Apology Speech"
2 hours--Hillary and Chelsea's prayer session with Jesse Jackson Sunday night, before the president's apology speech
7 months--length of time the president can keep a secret
22 months--elephant gestation period
4 years--length of time Kenneth Starr can investigate a secret; one year per minute of apology speech
The following ad ran on Page 1 of Saturday's New York Times, beneath a photo of an exquisite fashion model balancing a stack of books on her exquisite head. "FASHION MEETS FICTION: Fall's clothes of the moment, beautiful and evocative, are a perfect counterpoint to a special magazine issue's four short stories, by Diane Johnson, Robert B. Parker, Barbara Cartland and Gish Jen."
If only some sinuous cat burglar (Joyce Maynard?) could crack J. D. Salinger's giant fireproof fiction vault, think what attractive shirts could match that magnificent prose!
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