Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bill (Walton) and Hilary (Bacon)

Bill (Walton) and Hilary (Bacon)

This is a story about Bill and Hilary, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with the former President and First Lady. One of my classmates at Notre Dame Law School was a delightful lady named Hilary Conant Bacon. She is a sweet-natured lady possessed of an amazing intellect. (That intellect earned her degrees from Harvard, Notre Dame and Boston College.) There are, however, some fields of knowledge with which she has no familiarity. For example, anything having to do with sports is beyond her ken.

Once, at a party in Boston, she met a young man who happened to be white with flaming red hair and who happened to stand seven feet tall. No, that’s not a mistake: seven feet tall. Upon learning that his name was Bill Walton, she asked him what he did for a living. Readers outside the United States might not appreciate the humor; in America, anyone who is extremely tall is likely to be asked, ten times a day, if they play basketball. Mr. Walton was, at the time, one of the most famous basketball players in the world. I suspect he was surprised to encounter someone who didn’t know who he was. Hilary asked which team he played for. I suspect many onlookers had a giggling fit: at the time, Walton was a Boston Celtic.

Well, Hilary managed to charm Bill Walton, just as she charms everyone she meets. That includes Christopher Gabrieli, an investment banker who repeatedly ran for office in Massachusetts. Her five children are lucky to have such a mother. To me, the moral of the story is that Will Rogers is right: everyone is ignorant, just about different things.

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