Kerry Temple | November 28, 2017
I remember thinking how weird it felt. I was sitting on an airplane in a seat next to my boss, 20 years older than me, and a man with whom I’d had minimal conversations. We were both quiet, introverted, not prone to talking. Plus he was my boss, the magazine’s editor. And I didn’t like flying. And we’d be sitting like this on a flight from Chicago to Phoenix, maybe four hours. What would we talk about? Would we talk? What would we do all that time, side by side?
So weird. Awkward. And my palms were sweating. I remember showing Walt the palms of my hands as evidence of my body’s distaste for flying. “Never seen that before,” he said. “They’re almost dripping.”
That was 30 years ago. It was our first backpacking trip together. He had shown me photos of him backpacking in the Grand Canyon. When he learned I liked to backpack, he said next time he’d ask me to go along. So here we were. Destination: Zion National Park.
Here’s what I’ll say today: Men typically do not express their feelings for one another. It’s not manly. It’s weird, off-putting, embarrassing. Who does that? Some things — like affection, fondness, profound friendship — should remain in hiding.
So I won’t say any of this. I’ll try another route. I’ll thank Walt as my annual Thanksgiving tribute to someone whose generosity impacted my life (with encouragement that others do the same, passing along a word of gratitude to help make this national holiday into a real day of giving thanks).
Walt Collins ’51 was my boss for 12 years. He helped me be me. He helped me be a better me, made me a better writer, gave me good assignments, taught me how to be an editor, let me do lots of fun stuff without saddling me with workaday burdens.