Kim Block Fan Meets Idol | 'This Just In'
“Isn’t it something?”"Well, it certainly is!”
As Betty and Kim take their leave, hugging like lifelong pals, I try to puzzle out this moment–one like so many others in which I’ve unearthed another layer of my sister’s unique and fully flowered life. “Boy oh boy!” she says as we head back to the car. “That profane fire!”
And there it is. I’d meant to thrill my sister by arranging for her to bask in the moon-bright halo of fame–but in truth, Kim Block might not even register on Betty’s A-list of celebrity, which includes certain Walmart greeters, all babies, and the guy who drives the garbage truck.
In Betty’s world, Kim Block stars on a different list entirely, a list called “Hear This”–words as old as Homer, as old as the campfire, words that summon our human hunger for story, parable, gossip, warning, news. Our preferences lean toward tales of mayhem, but in the absence of a shockeroo we’ll take a 20-pound zucchini or a sixth-grader who sold 10,000 cookies.
Every weeknight for 30 years, Kim has told Betty of elections and earthquakes, bombs and bake sales, teachers and terrorists, confetti and crime and controversy–all the stories that make us us. And Betty has faithfully received these stories of our time and place, as riveted as the first hearer of the first story related in the glow of the first embers.
To enthrall another person, you need not be famous. You need not be beautiful. You need not wear a pearl-pink dress. On Monday, after her big Kim Block weekend in the city, Betty will, in this order, get out of the van; hang her coat in a locker; stow her lunch in a cupboard; get her Pepsi out of the machine, three hours early, to store in the community fridge. Then she’ll take her place at a work table piled with clothes to sort for a secondhand shop.
“Hear this,” she’ll begin. Her listeners will lift their heads, alert for information, and turn their faces toward this trustworthy, wholehearted bringer of news, the one whose turn it is to tell the tale.
For a review of Monica Wood’s new family memoir, When We Were the Kennedys, turn to p. 24 in this issue.