I was on NPR’s Weekend Edition this morning, talking to Rachel Martin about WAS’s. The WAS, you may recall from a post I did in the spring, is a Wrongly Attributed Statement. I wound up writing more about WAS’s at the Chronicle Review earlier this week, and that’s how NPR came to me. Here’s the opening of my Chronicle piece:
Sometime last semester I was complaining to my wife, Laura, about a squabble in my department. I can’t remember the specifics—that’s how small and silly the argument was—but it was eating at me. And eating at me that it was eating at me (tiffs are as much a part of academe as footnotes and should be handled with comparable fuss). After listening to me and voicing the requisite empathy, Laura said, “Any idiot can survive a crisis; it’s the day-to-day living that wears you out.” I looked at her, puzzled. “Chekhov,” she said. Puzzled gave way to impressed. “Chekhov,” I said, with a tip of the head. Impressed gave way to skeptical. “Chekhov?”
So we did what any couple does on the verge of an argument: We Googled it. And sure enough, there it was: lots and lots of hits, many of them attributing this bit of wisdom to Chekhov. But where had he said it? Not a single hit—at least not that we could find—identified a play, short story, letter, diary entry, note, or testimonial in which Chekhov or any of his characters says this.
I decided to do some more sleuthing. And then I stopped myself. I’d been here before, I realized. I was in the realm of the WAS.
And have a listen over at NPR.