It has been said that a book represents the efforts of not just its author, but of all who have supported that author during the mysterious process of creativity. While there is some built-in hyperbole and false humility to such claims, my legal representatives advise me that I nevertheless would be remiss in not acknowledging those persons who have made it possible for me to accomplish what I fully expect will be reckoned a significant — dare I say unprecedented? — work of creative genius.
To wit: let me begin by thanking my fourth and most recent ex-wife, Jane, who provided invaluable comments on early drafts, put up with my less than model behavior during the composition of some difficult portions of this work, and even clumsily soldered electronic components of my keyboard as quickly as I could smash them in my rages at her inability to fully appreciate my true genius.
I must also thank her for in the end allowing me the freedom to pursue other muses than herself for the sake of my art, and for enduring the verbal — and, finally, physical — attacks from one of those former muses, who, in the wake of our brief and turbulent relationship, proved far more fragile and much less generous than her target, my then-wife. Thanks, again, Jane. You’re the best.
I must also acknowledge the contributions made to this work by my third ex (also a Jane), who was somewhat tragically and quite unexpectedly carried away in a spring flash flood while fixing me a cup of tea just the way I like it, with extra lemon and prepared out of earshot so as not to disturb me. That the ancient riverbed where she had set up her campfire should so suddenly revert to its previous vigor was, I am convinced, just as surprising to her as it was to the gentlemen whom I eventually hired to fish her out while I completed the lyrical chapter which, had she survived, surely would have been her favorite. I also wish to thank her for humming my favorite childhood tunes the way Mommy — (okay, a Jane) used to.
I also here acknowledge my second ex — stout, capable Martha! — for her efforts on my behalf over the years. I wish especially to thank her for shingling our vast roof, and for — God bless her — deftly putting a bullet in the head of the neighbors’ distracting Weimeraner, allowing me to finish a chapbook of poems that today is still available in limited edition. I should also acknowledge publicly her touching willingness to settle an old score on my behalf by traveling to Chicago to moon a past president of PEN who had refused to return my phonecalls.
I also wish to thank her for shielding me from the burden of raising our three children — so successfully, in fact, that I was recently quite unable to identify my eldest youngster in a police lineup, nor to recognize his hoarse, plaintive cries for my head; and, when she could no longer afford to pay our lawyer, for working out a system of payment with the laywer she had hired to defend her in the lawsuit by the aforementioned dog-owning neighbor — pulling the lawyer’s children on a vintage sledge to their snowboarding lessons and, after proofreading my galleys, returning to his house to weed his charming, serpentine drive and to polish his whimsically impractical copper gutters and drainpipes. The prison matrons who now attend her know little of the depth of her character. Brava, plucky lady!
I should also be remiss in forgetting to mention my first wife (not a Jane), whose efforts on my behalf would beggar the description of a less talented author. There is so much to say, but let me at least here acknowledge her ultimate effort on my behalf, that of cycling to Iran to assassinate the Imam who had issued the fatwa against the writer who in the end turned out not to have been me after all. If her jailers allow her a copy of this book in the care packages her parents send her, and she chances upon this page, I should like her to know that, in the first moment that I am satisfied with the second draft of my poem-cycle-in-progress, I will trouble Holden, my current muse/caretaker, to turn her attentions to your plight. In the meantime I trust she has answered your letters. The several months’ delay has, I am told, mostly to do with Holden’s touching discomfort at handling the rough toilet paper — however unsullied — upon which you choose to compose your (also touching) requests for help.
It is a statement of pure, legal fact that without the help of these women the world would have been deprived of the work on the pages that follow. And so perhaps it is not so much I who ought to thank them, but rather you, the lucky reader of those pages, to which I humbly trust you will now turn with all alacrity.
Eric Metaxas is the author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (but were afraid to ask). His humorous essays have been published in The New York Times and The Atlantic — Woody Allen has called them “quite funny” — and during college he was the editor of The Yale Record (the nation’s oldest college humor magazine). He has written for VeggieTales and is the author of over 30 children’s books, including Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving. Eric lives in Manhattan with his wife and daughter and is the host and founder of Socrates in the City, a monthly speaker’s series on “life, God, and other small topics.” For more information or to contact him, go to: EricMetaxas.com