Letters to the Grandchildren

by Skip Eisiminger

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About the Book

From the author:

While writing these essays, both of my parents died. When I read that Cicero had left his son a series of brief personal "letters," I was disappointed that my parents had not done something similar. That's when I decided to learn from the "sin" of their omission and salt away some of my essays in a book.
Arthur Schopenhauer said that given our "three score and ten" allotment, a wise division would be forty years devoted to the "text" and thirty to the "commentary." My division thus far has been rather less balanced—sixty-five for the text and six for the commentary, but at least I've managed to get a few things in print before shuffling off to Buffalo dragging my mortal coil. To switch the metaphor, I've spent the last six years unpeeling a very large onion. In the process, I've cut my fingers numerous times and occasionally brought tears to my eyes, but once sautéed with a little butter, the result, I think, is a palatable dish. Guten Appetit!


  • Foreword by John D. Morgenstern
  • Introduction

Lessons from the Classroom

  • The Office Door: Introductions
  • Microcosms in the Classroom: Student Surnames
  • The Emperor is Naked: Deconstructionism
  • Sacred Places and Spite Fences: Personal Space
  • From Rivers to Glockenspiels: Time and Clocks
  • The First Drafts of Myth: Anecdotes
  • Early Don't Last Long: Carpe Diem
  • Eight Lives and Counting: Curiosity
  • Running Out of Sheepgoats: Excuses
  • All Engine and No Brake? Free Speech
  • From Handshakes to Fist Bumps: Departures

Plays on Words

  • Because a Thousand Trillion Synapses Aren't Enough: The Card File
  • The Parallel Universe: Fiction and Life
  • Hype Springs Eternal: Exaggeration
  • From Pegasus to Pegasaurus: Myth
  • The Hyena's Share: Diner Slang
  • Word Clay: Wordplay
  • As Was Said of Old: Proverbs
  • Tales from the Cup and Chaucer: Punning Business Names
  • Yada, Yada, Yada, Cinderbella: Language Aquisition
  • 666: Numbers

Game Changers

  • Game Changers: Change
  • Homo Hardwarus: Tools
  • Anticipostalate: The Post
  • From Technophobe to Alpha Geek: Computers
  • The Write Stuff: Cursive vs. Keyboard
  • Bluetooth Headsets and Treadmill Desks: Multitasking
  • Let's See What Develops: Photography
  • Thinking Outside the Bachs: Musical Instruments

Our Common Bond

  • From Soot to Diamonds: Order
  • The Primal Shrug: Nature's Indifference and the Church
  • The Charm of Threes: The Trinity
  • Imaginary Friends: Divine Humor
  • Reluctant to Walk One Step Ahead: Competition
  • One or Two Degrees of Separation: Celebrity by Proxy
  • A Tune to H2O: Water
  • Synergy: Our Common Bond

People Are Our Teachers

  • Gatsby Redux: Romantic Fools
  • Heartbreak Hotel Revisited: Loneliness
  • Owning Up to the Avalanche: Responsibility
  • A Family of Scofflaws: Disobedience
  • Talking Back to the Recorded Message: Authority
  • Visible Emotion: Tears
  • Alligator in a Shoe Factory: Fear
  • Stardust Sprinklers and SOBs: Grandparents
  • Judging the Potato by Its Vine: Appearances