When I reinvented cryptography you scorned my mastery of acute and oblique symbols. When I discovered that supposedly inert gases panted like dogs you disdained my litter of lab reports. When I chaired the Bank of America you closed your account. When I posed for a statue of Richard Nixon you laughed so loudly the bronze shattered. When I published The Book of Ages and won an Oscar for faking the role of author you applauded with leaden irony. When the University of Toronto appointed me its honorary president you wrote a letter of disapprobation. When the Bishop of Banbury ordained and defrocked me on the same day you ripped pages from your bible and burned them in an ashtray. When Brad Pitt starred in the script I wrote about a sex-crazed old buzzard you sent him fan mail. Now Harvard has chosen to award me an honorary degree. A dean whose name I can’t pronounce asks if anyone in the crimson mob objects. You stand and toss your mortarboard into the sky. Thunder retorts, and lightning prods the steeple of Memorial Church. The dean tucks himself into his regalia but hands me a rain-soaked slab of paper. It’s a take-out menu for a cut-rate Chinese lunch.