Don’t you just hate it when an author uses a big word you’ve never seen before, instead of a smaller common one? I know I do. I hate having to decide whether to stop reading and look up the offending word in the dictionary—as if I can ever find one when I want to—or just ignore it and live with that nagging feeling of inadequacy. Please accept my apologies and my attempt at making it easier for you by providing the meaning of ‘prolegomenon’ (see * below). It really is the best word for my purposes.
In planning the structure of this book, the phrase ‘dog’s breakfast’ comes to mind. However, I would prefer the term ‘Beagle’s breakfast’, or maybe ‘dog’s dinner’, because they are attractively alliterative and thus more suitable to this literary endeavor. This book is mostly a collection of short, autobiographical stories. They are not called ‘chapters’ because they lack the continuity of thought that such a designation implies. The sections are self-contained to make it easy for you to skip around.
The first story, ‘My Love Affairs . . . With Cars’ is presented as a brief overview of the events that make up the autobiographical stories that follow. This satisfies my ingrained habit of following one of the fundamental maxims of teaching: first tell what you are going to teach, then teach it, and then summarize what has been taught.
Cars are a common thread running through most people’s lives. For people like me, they become an extension of their inner self. I realize there are people who, when buying a new car, are more concerned with the number and placement of cup holders than with engine design, and for whom talk of spark plugs would put them to sleep. If you are one of those individuals you can just skip the first section and you won’t have missed anything important. Everything important is revisited in later sections.
The events of my life are accurate to the best of my memory. Fortunately, I have forgotten (or chose to forget) many incidents. I have usually not used last names in order to provide a modicum of anonymity to individuals who were part of the stories.
Some of the significant events in my life would require many words leading up to them when they are, in fact, self-explanatory. These vignettes are presented in italics at the end of a section to show separation from the main content. Some of these italicized items are humorous anecdotes, so feel free to laugh. You could consider them to be like Shakespearian rhyming couplets, although they are not couplets and they don’t rhyme. Or, if you prefer, think of them to be like the anecdotes the Readers’ Digest uses as space fillers at the end of stories. One other diversion is the random appearance of poetry, pictures and unrelated items between the major sections. These are to provide illumination, comic relief, a change of pace, or just because I happen to like them.
*Prolegomenon: A preliminary discussion introducing a work of considerable complexity.