You know how it is. You see this woman, you're enraptured by her and you make up your mind to do anything you can to impress her. You start off by swearing that she's the most beautiful woman you've ever seen in your life.
She says: Really?
You say: You're the Nile, the Tower of Pisa; you're the smile on the Mona Lisa.
She says: You don't really mean that.
And, of course, you don't. She's attractive, not beautiful; you're horny, not enraptured; you don't want to impress her so much as you want to press yourself onto her. It's the way of the male when he catches sight of a female and his juices start flowing.
And, apparently, it's the way of the journalist when he catches sight of multiple murderer and his juices start flowing. Or hers.
Consider the following. These are excerpts from letters written a year or so ago by some of America's best-known journalists to Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, in an effort to persuade him to do an interview with them.
The letters now reside in the Special Collections Library at the University of Michigan, which made them available to a Web site called TheSmokingGun.com.
Katie Couric, of NBC's Today show: "I look forward to hopefully hearing from you. I'd also be more than happy to just come and meet with you."
Note that in two sentences Ms. Couric not only slobbers over a convicted terrorist, but commits three grammatical errors: two split infinitives and the incorrect use of the adverb "hopefully." Teddy's a bright guy, Katie; you're going to have to brush up on a few basics if you want him to notice you.
Shawn Efran, a producer for CBS's 60 Minutes II: "I want to give you the opportunity to show the American people that you are, in fact, rational, clear-headed and sane."
And how, precisely, do you intend to do that, Mr. Efran? Judicious editing? Multiple re-takes? Special effects? The guy's a killer, a taker of human life, demented and deranged and gutless. I'm afraid that, after a letter like yours, Shawn old boy, you're the one who has to persuade the American people he's rational, clear-headed and sane.
From Katie Thomson, a producer for ABC's 20/20, pleading with Kaczynski to appear on the program with Barbara Walters: "No one else could more powerfully express your views, and this interview would help bring more readers to your book. ..."
Wait a minute, Ms. Thomson, I'm a little confused here. What exactly is Barbara Walters — a journalist or a sales rep? Do you think she could pitch Kaczynski's book as effectively as she hawked those really neat purses that Monica Lewinsky makes, performing, as she did, a wondrous kind of pop-cultural alchemy, the transformation of a chunky-cheeked fellatrix into a celebrity designer?
And the letters go on. Don Dahler, a national correspondent for ABC's Good Morning America, tries to woo his intended by telling him that he too has "a cabin in the woods ... that has no electricity or running water."
No kidding, Mr. Dahler? Do you and Ted also read the same books? Enjoy the same music? Like to take long walks on the beach at sunset with the sand squishing between your toes?
My God, do you suppose you're even the same sign?
So far, Theodore Kaczynski, whose bombs killed three people and injured more than twenty others, has not agreed to an interview with any of his suitors. Perhaps if they sent him a Valentine. Perhaps if the Valentine told the truth of their pursuit:
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
I'd sell my soul
For a sound bite from you.