For a long time I used to file away clippings of my old magazine articles, but I stopped saving them with the coming of Web-based archives. Now I keep only electronic copies of my stuff, and once I’d put together A Terry Teachout Reader, in which I collected some of the pieces I published between 1987 and 2002, I decided the time had come to dispose of my old clips. Suspecting myself of excessive vanity and pointless nostalgia, I decided, like Thoreau, to simplify my life, so I sold two-thirds of my books and threw out a huge pile of clips and other mementoes, keeping only what I could stuff into one small cardboard box.
Time, however, has a way of doubling back on you. The current occupant of my previous apartment called the other day to tell me that I’d left behind another box of miscellaneous items. It surfaced, she said, in the course of a major housecleaning. Did I want it, or should she throw it out? I thought for a moment, then told her I’d be right over. Curiosity had gotten the better of asceticism. I picked up the box and toted it home.
Here’s what I found inside:
– The printed programs of all the plays in which I acted in high school and college, going back to 1972. (Don’t ask–I was awful. I had a lot of fun, though.)
– Three souvenirs from my maiden voyage to New York in December of 1975, a week-long trip organized by one of my college professors.
The first was the program for a performance of New York City Ballet’s Nutcracker, my first Balanchine ballet. Peter Boal was one of the children in the first-act Christmas party. Now he’s retiring from NYCB to become the artistic director of Pacific Northwest Ballet. Sic transit!
The second was the souvenir program for Harold Prince’s Broadway revival of Candide. (Just last week I reviewed New York City Opera’s revival of Prince’s opera-house production of the same show.)
The third, scrawled in my still-unformed handwriting on a piece of hotel stationery, was an itinerary of everything I did in New York, including the menus of all the meals I ate. That was the week I first tasted onion soup, vichyssoise, ratatouille, pheasant, chicken Kiev, and chocolate mousse. Most of the restaurants at which I made these happy discoveries have long since closed their doors, but the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim are still around, as is the Caf