In the summer of 2007, I was doing research while at the University of Virginia for a seminar under Syed Rizwan Zamir for his class, Islam in the Modern Age: Tradition, Fundamentalism, and Reform. Before I picked up reading fiction as an undergraduate, most all of what I read dealt with political science, the author I read the most by being the famed linguist and political dissident, Noam Chomsky. For my final project, I decided I would contact Chomsky for an interview to see what he’d have to say on the subject matter.
Screw it, it’s worth a shot I figured — even if deep down I knew there was no way he’d respond.
The next day I opened my e-mail, and saw it: Noam Chomsky to jwp5u.
After reading Chomsky’s response, the short answer being, “No, I don’t have the time,” I called home to my parents. Despite the rejection, I was so excited I could nearly urinate my pants and I think I even felt a little dribble at one point.
“Go up to my room,” I told my mom over the phone.
“Why?” she responded.
“Make like Nike and just do it. Look on my bookshelf. Do you see a guy named Noam Chomsky?”
She walked upstairs. I could hear her open my creaky bedroom door.
“Yes, he’s all over the place.”
“He just e-mailed me,” I said to her. “I asked him for an interview and he said he couldn’t do it. Isn’t that awesome?”
“That he said, ‘No.'”
“No, that he responded to my e-mail. Noam Chomsky wrote me an e-mail. Isn’t that awesome? NOAM AVRAM FREAKING CHOMSKY!”
“That’s wonderful,” my mom said to me in a sort of I-can’t-believe-you’re-this-excited-about-an-email voice.
And so ends one of the single greatest moments in my life.
Noam Avram Freaking Chomsky . . . man!