This recent tweet reminded me of a sort of reductio ad absurdum attempt at satire I wrote back in 2007. Could I take the New York Times’ “this reporter” trope into a wormhole from which it was impossible to emerge? I just dug it up. Enjoy:
There were, not counting Mr. Montero, 60, and his wife, Linda, both tending bar, exactly three people there who were not in the Royal Navy, including this reporter, his old roommate Dave from Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and an older woman playing scratch-off lottery games and trying to ignore more than 50 increasingly loud British sailors.
– “The Fleet’s In: In the Harbor, and the Bar,” Michael Wilson, The New York Times, July 11, 2007
At a recent happy hour attended by several reporters from the New York Times, a reporter approached this reporter.
“Is that who I think it is?” said that reporter to this reporter, nodding her head toward a reporter over in the corner.
“I think so,” replied this reporter to that reporter about the reporter over in the corner.
The reporter over in the corner, who was indeed whom this reporter and that reporter thought it was, caught this reporter’s eye and walked over to where this reporter and that reporter—that reporter here, not over there, although that reporter over there was now making her way over here—were standing.
“What have you been up to?” the reporter who had been over there but was now right here said to this reporter.
“Oh, this and that,” said this reporter.
The reporter who had been over there but was now here looked at our pint glasses, which were nearly empty, and said, “How about I get this round?”
This reporter and the reporter who had been here the whole time nodded their assent, and the reporter who had been over there and was briefly here walked to the bar.
“How’s it going, Jim?” the reporter who went from over there in the corner to here to the bar said to Jim the bartender.
“Not bad,” said Jim.
Jim poured three drafts of beer and slid the glasses over to the reporter who had been over there in the corner, was briefly here, and was now at the bar.
“Hey,” the reporter who had been over there in the corner, was briefly here, and was now at the bar called over to the reporter standing with this reporter, “can you give me a hand?”
“Sure,” said the reporter who had first spotted that reporter in the corner and, having acquiesced to the carrying of pint glasses, was about to walk over to the bar.
The reporter who had been here with this reporter and never over there in the corner walked over to the bar, picked up two full glasses, and walked back over to this reporter—who was now sitting down—and, in trying to hand this reporter his glass, spilled the entire beer all over this reporter’s lap.
This reporter stood up and awkwardly dabbed his lap with a cocktail napkin.
“I’m so sorry!” said the reporter who had walked over to the bar to help the reporter who was now ordering a beer to replace the one now residing in this reporter’s lap and all over the floor beneath him. The reporter who had spilled the beer on this reporter’s lap knelt down to wipe the beer off the floor and, in trying to stand up, knocked her head loudly on the underside of the table.
“Ow!” cried the reporter who had spilled the beer. The reporter who had spilled the beer and just now hit her head backed out from under the table into the walkway, where she bumped into a reporter who happened to be walking by, knocking his beer into the lap of this reporter.
This reporter sighed.
The reporter who had spilled two beers and hit her head now pursed her lips and looked quizzically at the reporter she had just bumped into. “Vijay?” the reporter who had hit her head and spilled approximately 22 fluid ounces of beer in this reporter’s lap said to the reporter she had just bumped into.
“Jane!” the reporter whose beer had been spilled by the reporter backing into him said to the reporter who had backed into him and spilled his beer.
“Vijay, let me introduce you to these reporters,” said the reporter who had just recently backed into the reporter she was now addressing as Vijay.
“Bob,” said this reporter, extending his wet hand.
“Vijay,” said the reporter who had just been introduced as Vijay, nodding and leaving his hand at his side.
“Charelle,” said the reporter who had neither spilled nor been spilled upon. “Pleased to meet you.”
“Vijay,” the reporter who had just introduced himself to this reporter as Vijay said to the reporter who had just introduced herself as Charelle.
“Did you hear?” the reporter who had just introduced himself as Vijay said to this reporter. “They changed the style guide. We don’t have to use ‘this reporter’ anymore. We can use the first person!”
“Oh, good,” I said to Vijay.
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