Arthur dealing

Meeting the new boss was a little weird.

Working with Mallory was an education. We had a very effective working relationship. He held me to impossible standards and I, quietly, held him to impossible standards. We mutually admired the other’s intellect. We debated everything. Even “good morning” could start an argument. He was a teacher.

One day, years after our initial meeting, Mallory called me into his office. “I’ve bought a dog and am planning to name it ‘Arthur’,” he told me. “I wanted you to hear this first. It’s important that you know that I’m not naming the dog after you. I’m naming it after Arturo Toscanini, the great conductor. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I named the dog after you.”

“Oh, really,” I said. “Thanks for the warning. I think I should let you know that I am buying a weasel and naming it ‘Fuinckg Aslhsoe’ [letters scrambled for the most polite readers], but it’s not named after you. Don’t worry. I will tell everyone that ‘Fuinckg Aslhsoe’ is not named for you, so there isn’t any confusion.”

Mallory laughed. I never bought the weasel. (“Buying the weasel” is not a euphemism. But it should be.)