Great Expectations

I was 12 when I first read Dickens’s serialized novel about Pip and his “great expectations” (translation: whopping big inheritance, morphing from lowly orphan to influential man about town, marrying the elusive Estella), but even I knew life was gonna throw Pip a few curve balls—if only because if it didn’t, it was going to be one big snore of book.

Still, that didn’t stop me from spending the next couple of decades having great expectations of my own. Some of them were big—famous actress! editor of The New Yorker! Others were more modest—that cute boy in English lit would ask me to the prom! there’d be six inches of snow by Christmas!

All of them required a lot of rules about what things had to look like in order to be “perfect.” A good number of them hinged upon my having mysteriously acquired direct control over the behavior of someone else.

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