Hey MacArthur Fellowship Committee

Great job last week on your choices. But aren’t you, um, forgetting someone?

Hey MacArthur Fellowship Committee

Dear MacArthur Committee,

Well, you did it again. You chose an amazing group of people for your “genius” awards: pioneers in fields from literature to theater to economics to paleobotany. So nice to see those on the cutting edge recognized. These folks get $625,000 over five years to do with what they will. That’s a lot of pitchers of margaritas.

But I couldn’t help feeling a bit of disappointment with the announcement. It just seems like something — or someone — is missing from your list. I know you had tough choices to make, but … well, I’ll be blunt: I’m hurt.

Oh, I know what you’re going to say. How can you win a MacArthur genius grant for your work when you’ve never published anything and you don’t even have a literary agent? A valid question, I admit. But you see, MacArthur Committee, this is what people refer to as a “chicken-and-egg” type situation. ‘Cause if you gave me one of your awards, I’d have an agent and probably a book deal the very same morning. No worries there.

But nobody knows you. That’s what you object, don’t you, MacArthur Committee? Well, on that front you are just flat-out wrong. I am a well-known commodity. Plenty of people know me.

My wife, for one. My co-workers. Laurie, who distributes Street Sense on the corner of 13th and H on Tuesday and Friday mornings. All the cashiers at the Parkway Deli. The majority of my Linkedin connections. Some of the guys at my gym ... I mean, they nod vaguely in my direction sometimes. I met Junot Diaz once. Oh, and the NSA. The NSA knows me very, very well.

So take that, MacArthur Committee. Take. That.

We already have two writers on our list this year. Yeah, yeah. Well, I’ll give you this: Karen Russell certainly beats Karen Thompson Walker. But what’s with the guy who thinks you can’t be a novelist unless you devote your whole professional life to it? That’s way uptight. But I’ll tell you what, MacArthur Committee: hand me the 625,000 smackeroos and that gets a whole lot more doable, OK?

What’s that, MacArthur Committee? You say you’d like to see some of my work? Well, thanks, I appreciate your interest, but honestly I haven’t got much to send you right now. Still revising my novel. I have another manuscript but I shelved it. It’s kind of … you know. Some really old short stories, I suppose, if I can find them on my computer. But fork over the dinero and I’d probably be a whole lot more productive. After all, I’d be a genius.

Oh, you say that “genius” thing is the media’s designation, not yours? (And that you don’t appreciate my sarcasm?) Hey, I’ve worked with one or two of your alumni — if that’s the proper word — over the years and they are pretty darned smart folks. But that’s fine. You don’t have to call me a “genius.” How about “twisted genius” instead? You know, like Twisted Tea? I seem to recall someone once labeling me a twisted genius. Maybe in college, maybe in grad school? I can’t quite remember. But there’s precedent.

OK, let’s not get side-tracked. I see what the real impediment is here, MacArthur Committee. You couldn’t call to let me know I’d won because you didn’t have my phone number. Well, that’s easily remedied. I’ll give you my phone number as readily as I’d have given it to a girl in a bar back in the days before I met my wife. You know, if any had ever asked.

I’m not much of a fan of talking on the phone, though, so how about texting instead? Text me, MacArthur Committee, and I promise I’ll get back to you right away with the best address to send the money. Plus, to show you how excited I am, I’ll use some of those cute little smiley icon guys my phone has hundreds of.

I look forward to hearing from you soonest on my Twisted Genius Grant. Thx!


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