I hate to put it this way," the doctor said rather cheerfully as he handed me a consent form, "but you're the ideal candidate for heart bypass surgery."

"Somehow, this is not the distinction I had in mind," I said. "I don't mean to seem ungrateful. And I don't mean that I was under any illusions that a Nobel Prize was coming my way. I suppose I was wondering whether there might be some appropriate honor in between."

I'm the sort of person who can settle for a middling distinction. I was perfectly content the last time I was officially singled...

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