‘Twixt, ‘Tween, and Twain…An Exclusive Interview

I had just played a 28-point word in online Scrabble (take that, Mondo!) when I heard the doorbell ring.  I hadn’t even heard a car, and I wasn’t expecting anybody.  Jake began to bark his head off.

I looked out the window before opening the back door…there was an old man standing on my back step.  There was a buggy parked in the driveway under my crabapple tree!  What the hell?  I opened the door a crack. “Yes?” I asked cautiously.

“I’m sorry to bother you, Madam, but I seem to be lost,” said the man.  “I heard there were fiddleheads in these parts…I’ve travelled all the way from Connecticut so that I may taste them.”

Okay…he’s old and looking for fiddleheads…probably not an axe-murderer, I thought.  “I’m sorry, Sir, but you’re a few weeks early for fiddlehead season, but you’re welcome to come in for a cup of tea and some pie!”

“Thank you,” he answered as he came in the house.  I grabbed Jake to keep him from jumping on the man’s white suit.

“I’m sorry, Mr. –?”

“Clemens,” he replied, giving Jake a look that told me he wasn’t a dog person.  “Sam Clemens.  If animals could speak the dog would be a blundering outspoken fellow, but the cat would have the rare grace of never saying a word too much.”

“I don’t have a cat…my fiancé’s allergic.”  Wait a minute…Sam Clemens…that sounded familiar, I thought, searching my almost 50-year-old brain.  Holy crap!  “Not the Sam Clemens!  You can’t be him!  He’s been dead for 100 years!” I sputtered.

“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” he smiled.  “Now how about that pie you promised?”

“Okay,” I agreed, reasoning that I might have overindulged in cold medication, and that I was having a hallucination.  I showed the visitor to a chair in the living room, and readied the food.

As I returned to the living room, I noticed the man had lit a pipe…damn!  “Do you mind putting that out, please?  Jim’s allergic to that too!”

“As an example to others, and not that I care for moderation myself, it has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep, and never to refrain from smoking when awake.”  He grumpily put the pipe into his pocket.

“So you came all the way from Connecticut?  Our weather must seem quite different to you,” I commented, hoping I didn’t sound too lame…my ability to make small talk is limited.

The old man was staring at Jim’s big screen TV as he replied, “The weather has been a good deal of a disappointment. Canada has a reputation for magnificent winter weather…but the result this time has been a mess of characterless weather, which all right-feeling Canadians are probably ashamed of.  Well, never mind, what you lack in weather you make up in the means of grace.”

Then I had a crazy idea (not that I wasn’t feeling crazy already talking to a dead man!): “Mr. Clemens, as long as you’re here, I’d really like to interview you and publish the story on my blog…would that be all right?”

“What’s a blog?” he asked curiously.

“Well, it’s kind of like a diary that people around the world can read if they want to.”

He looked pleased, “People around the world have read my books!  I’ll do it!”

The Visitor...photo from openinglines.org

What follows is the transcript of my exclusive interview with Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain:

Writerwoman61: What is your philosophy of life?

MT: Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind and astound the other.

Writerwoman61: What is the secret to your success?

MT: The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

Writerwoman61: Are you happy with the person you are?

MT: The worst loneliness is to not be comfortable with yourself.

Writerwoman61:  Everyone likes to be right…does it bother you when people think you’re wrong?

MT: Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

Writerwoman61: What happens when you lose your temper?

MT: When angry, count to four; when very angry, swear.

Writerwoman61: You must get depressed sometimes…how do you pull yourself out of it?

MT: The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.

Writerwoman61: How do you deal with people who put you down?

MT: Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

Writerwoman61: What about people who are just using you for their own gain?

MT: Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.

Writerwoman61: How do you feel about honesty?

MT: If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

Writerwoman61: What do you think of our politicians?

MT: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

Writerwoman61: What about political speeches?

MT: If we were supposed to talk more than listen we would have been given two mouths and one ear.

Writerwoman61: Are you optimistic about the younger generation?

MT: The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop.

Writerwoman61: What is the biggest problem with young people today?

MT: Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

Writerwoman61: How important is a college degree?

MT: Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.

Writerwoman61:  When trying to understand something, how important is it to ask questions?

MT: He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.

Writerwoman61: Do you have any advice about love?

MT: If you want love and abundance in your life, give it away.

Writerwoman61: Is one happier when one is in love?

MT: To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.

Writerwoman61: How do you find the right person?

MT: When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.

Writerwoman61: Once you’ve found that special person, then what?

MT: Let your joy be unconfined!

Writerwoman61: How do you want to remembered?

MT: Let us live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.


I jerked awake when my alarm went off.  “I had the weirdest dream…” I told Jim.


Filed under history, satire

53 responses to “‘Twixt, ‘Tween, and Twain…An Exclusive Interview

  1. Wendy, this is wonderful!

  2. Whew! I was going to ask WHY you would invite a weird old strange man into your house…. So, instead, I’m going to ask: what meds are you on???!!!

  3. what a delightful post…can you imagine? (I mean, obviously you can… :))
    bright spot to my day!

  4. This was so much fun to read Wendy. I often thought it would be fun to be able to interview someone from the past. Leonardo da Vinci would be one of my favorites to have a sit down chat with or at least follow around for a week or so.

    “A well-spent day brings happy sleep ” is one of my favorite Leonardo da Vinci quotes.

    Perhaps you had a well-spent day to have such happy sleep?

  5. brad

    Funny, there’s a guy that just started working at our local pub…

  6. Like Winn, I started worrying about you, Wendy, and that strange man in your house! Phew! This is a wonderful post! How imaginative and clever.

  7. thejaggedman

    Wonderful post on an extraordinary man.! Great job and wonderful read! Now for a cup of tea and pie on this unusually cool and ungracious spring day.

  8. Wow, I was on the edge of my seat with this one. My question asking older son loved the 5min fool response. He grinned and promptly began forming his talented interrogatives. Great post Wendy.

  9. Well done! I love Mark Twain quotes and use them over and over. One of my favorite is on of your first—“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.”

    Careful inviting strangers in for tea and pie! 🙂

    • Thanks, Katybeth…I’m a bit of a quote junkie…I put one on my Facebook profile and another one on our Facebook fan page for the bookstore every morning. Mark Twain is definitely one of my favourite people to quote!

      Glad you enjoyed it!


  10. Mark Twain always struck me as the kind of guy who’d feel right at home in the 21st century. Imagine how much more he might have written if he’d a) learned to type and b) had a laptop!

  11. I love this post, Wendy. Very clever, very well written.

    I called Sam before this commenting and asked him what he thought of golf. He said, “Golf is a good walk ruined.”

  12. “When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.” What a brilliant man.

    What a clever post, Wendy. I’m so glad you offered him pie, and he accepted. 🙂

  13. Brilliant, Wendy–absolutely brilliant! I’d love to know how this idea came to you! What a fabulous one!

    • I’ve always liked Twain quotes, Kathy…last week, my new friend Rene at Lessons from Teachers and Twits wrote a piece about the “political correction” of Huckleberry Finn: http://rasjacobson.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/what-the-huck/ I commented that Twain would probably get a kick out of all the controversy his story was causing if he were still around…I was still thinking about it yesterday, and this was the result… Glad you liked the post! Hugs, Wendy

  14. I LOVE a good twist to a post. He’s one of my favorites…Bravo!

  15. jacquelincangro

    How fun! Twain had such great quotes sayings. I’m glad you captured them all in one post. Have you read his autobiography? It’s on my “to read” list.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, Jacquelin…haven’t read his autobiography yet, but the next book on my list to read is a collection of his “dark writings.” I’m looking forward to it, because I haven’t read Twain for more than 35 years… Wendy

  16. Excellent, Wendy! Mark Twain has always been one of my favorites. I think he’d have appreciated your creativity here!

  17. There aren’t enough superlatives in the English language to express how much I loved this post, Wendy! It’s a classic! 🙂

  18. THIS IS AWESOME! And he did say the greatest things didn’t he?!

  19. izziedarling

    Absolutely Brilliant, Wendy! Loved every word, you very talented person! xo iz

  20. Great post!
    I love this line: “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
    So true 🙂 Super creative stuff Wendy.

  21. Sadly, it took me a while to catch on to this one! I do love that quote about removing all doubt that you’re a fool. I should really try to internalize that one.

  22. Brilliant post! Too funny, because we just watched the Star Trek: TNG episode with Sam Clemens in it last night 🙂

  23. This is so stinkin’ good. I have read it about six times, trying to throw in some kind of Twain-esque response, but you really nailed him. Dang girrrl. 😉

  24. Clever post–Twain would have loved this!

  25. You have some great connections there, young lady! Nice work!
    How did he feel about his work being censored by morons?

    • Thanks, Hook…this piece was actually inspired by a piece my friend, Rene, did over at Lessons from Teachers and Twits about the whole censorship thing…I commented that Twain would probably be quite amused by all the kerfuffle about his work! Wendy

  26. Twain has always been one of my favorite writers, Wendy. I saw Hal Holbrook perform his one-man show, Mark Twain Tonight, in Connecticut many years ago. This post reminded me of that experience, and I love the way you handled it. Thank you.

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