Column Date 2006-12-31

TIME magazine, I accept!


This is totally unexpected.

First, I’d like to thank the Editorial Board of TIME magazine, the TimeWarner board of directors, and anyone else involved who selected me as TIME’s “Person of the Year” for 2006.

I must say, however, that you people could have phoned or, at the very least, sent me an e-mail about awarding me this honor.

Instead, I found out about my selection in Grand Central Station, when I spotted a copy of TIME magazine at a newsstand.

That’s right -- I casually picked up a copy of TIME, and it said “You, yes you, are person of the year.” I looked closely and... there I was on the cover!

It was the most exciting moment of my life, even though all the other people at the newsstand gave me funny looks when I sat down on a stack of 'National Enquirers' and started sobbing.

My family deserves a lot of credit for my selection as “Person of the Year” – especially my wife, Ann, who gave me constant encouragement when I started writing this column for the Long Island Press. By the way, I greatly admire TIME’s generosity in naming a columnist from a rival print medium. Very open-minded, and I think they deserve a nice round of applause right here.

Then, of course, a big “thank you” to my sons who were quick to call in with their congratulations, in spite of never having read TIME magazine in their lives (they’re part of the new internet generation, of course).

At this point, I should tell you that I have never been in contact with TIME magazine, except for their bi-monthly letter to “occupant” asking me to subscribe at 90% off the cover price (a “professional discount,” I think they call it).

In fact, I don’t know a soul at TIME magazine or TimeWarner – not even vaguely.

And lastly, thanks to all the people in my life who helped make me the “Person” I have become:

+ The director of the James Madison High School Band, who, when the clarinet section was decimated by the flu, moved me up to First Clarinet, boosting my confidence enormously (except for that unfortunate B-flat I played in front of the whole school).

+ Mr. Dunsmuir, my old high school science teacher who thought I would make a fine electrical engineer. He was about as wrong as an advisor could be.

+ The head of the Math Department at Carnegie-Mellon, who gently suggested that I become a musician, or a writer, or a cowboy...or anything but a math major in his department. He was about as right as an advisor could be (except about the cowboy part).

+ The head of the NYC ad agency who fired me (unjustly, of course), opening the door to the lucrative job of a newspaper columnist.

+ Larry, my jazz piano teacher, who told me I have a great sense of rhythm for a middle-aged Caucasian.

And to all of you who saw yourselves as TIME’s “Person of the Year” but didn’t quite make it, my respect and admiration. You were a tough, talented bunch of competitors.

Better luck next year.

©2007 Peter Tannen