When I was in high school I wrote a sesquipedalian (at least in the view of local readers) letter to the newspaper about some proposed changes to the elementary school schedule and curriculum. More than one person around town, in speaking to my father about it, compared me to William F. Buckley. It made me love him forever, not because I really felt that we were alike (that would be presumptuous on my part, to say the least); but because I felt such warm sympathy with someone who had, I imagined, fallen prey to the same lifelong, tiresome "Oooh, big words!" reaction to what he considered everyday utterances as I had. [Jacob Clifton plug: check out his recaplet of last night's top ten guys. I swear, it's related to what I've just been talking about.]
I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Buckley, but I am much fewer than six degrees separate from him on many fronts, and I absolutely adore all the people I know who did meet him. His family of origin, as well as his own family, were clearly fertile ground for brilliance. All mothers should read Will Mrs. Major Go To Hell?, the collected works of his sister Aloise Buckley Heath; and his son Christopher Buckley writes some of the funniest Shouts and Murmurs pieces in the New Yorker, showing particular verve on the subject of aviation.
The New York Times writes that Mr. Buckley and his wife Patricia, who predeceased him not quite a year ago, called each other "Ducky." Is it not delicious to imagine them shouting this out to each other as they meet in the hereafter?