"Thank you for that marvellously appealing invitation. Rarer than you can possibly know. I feel relieved, to an odd and unusual degree, to be able to say quite truthfully that I can't make it, really can't, rather than I-regret-that-I-am-unable-to-etc., or any similar polite baloney. The fact is, I have a fourteen-year-old son who is graduating from the eighth grade . . . . I very much doubt that it would be possible in any case for me to get to Salt Lake City (a) on time and (b) duly composed and prepared to say unforgettably wise things to your graduating class.
"Do count your blessings. In any really thoughtful list of blights and scourges of our time, talking writers, surely, ought to be somewhere up very close to the top. I mean it.
"All the same, I find myself peculiarly moved and ready to give a private little graduation speech to Elizabeth Cordova, the gist of which might be that I hope she has a terrific, lovely, thoughtful, useful, happy time doing whatever she does next after high school. All her chances seem to me really first-class." Via