Thursday, September 30, 2010

September 30

I thought I was done with this diary last May when I was about to leave Charles, but I find that one last entry is necessary to describe what happened with Angie’s “secret plan” against Briggs. Although Angie thought that it might not work at all, we have just seen in the last few days how it turned out to be far more effective than she had ever dreamed was possible. Before describing what happened, though, I want to say something about what we’ve been doing since we moved here.

Through another friend of hers, Angie got in contact with a head hunting firm in Rosslyn, Virginia that specializes in placing recent college graduates in entry level professional positions around here. Angie ended up getting a job at a corporation which owns electric power generation projects in some twenty different countries. The company has a neat philosophy: for every acre of trees it cuts down to build a plant, it buys an acre of land somewhere else and plants trees on it. I remember that I was incredulous when Shivvy told me there were corporations like this last year. It turns out they really do exist.

Angie is the assistant to the head of the corporate division responsible for Central America and the Caribbean. She’s being paid a very generous salary plus full benefits—including stock options! She may get to do some traveling, and the corporation will pay for her to take evening graduate courses toward a master’s degree in a field of interest to it. Angie’s looking into business school programs with courses in international finance at the various universities around here.

It took me a little longer to find a job, but with Ilya’s help, I got one as a meeting planner at the Carnegie Endowment, where he’s now working. My job doesn’t pay as well as Angie’s, but it also provides good benefits (except, of course, that foundations don’t give out stock options). The job is basically administrative. It keeps me very busy, since the Carnegie puts on an incredible number of meetings on foreign policy issues. Fortunately, though, I get to attend them as well as the receptions associated with them. I’ve been able to meet a lot of interesting people from the State Department, Capitol Hill, foreign embassies, the media, and academia.

One thing I’ve learned is that neither neo-radicalism nor international relations theory in general is particularly useful to the foreign policy community in Washington. It’s simply too broad for helping understand what’s going on right now in Iraq, Afghanistan, or wherever. Ilya has persuaded me that if I really want a career in international relations, I’m going to have to acquire some sort of regional or functional expertise. I’ll definitely apply to the various IR graduate programs around here this fall. I’m not sure if I really want to go into another Ph.D. program, though. Except for becoming a professor, a master’s degree in international relations from a good school seems to be the ticket in this field.

Ilya and Danielle got married in July. It was a simple but lovely ceremony. Craig and Lee were there too, of course. They returned to Cambridge for the new school year, but they think they’ll be back next summer—which is when (now that her divorce has come through) Angie and I plan to get married. In the meantime, we moved to our own apartment near the Virginia Square Metro at the end of August. We’re each repaying loans for our cars as well as all the clothes we had to buy for going to work. Dressing nicely to the office is expected here.

That about brings us up to date. Now I’ll describe how Angie’s secret plan unfolded. The International Relations Association’s annual conference took place here in Washington last week. Angie insisted that I attend even if it meant using up some of the precious few vacation days that I had accumulated. Luckily, my boss was cool about just letting me go without taking any leave; we weren’t putting on any meetings while this big conference was in town anyway.

Angie herself refused to attend. She told me to get there on the Wednesday afternoon to register even before the panels began the next day. That evening, we went through the thick conference program together and saw that the special session at which Briggs’s new book would be released was scheduled for late Friday afternoon in one of the ballrooms. I noted that the moderator for the session was listed as, “Brendan Cohen, Charles University.”

Angie asked me to attend this session and let her know what all happened. “And don’t forget to buy a copy of the book.” I tried to do that on Thursday, but I was told at his publisher’s booth that the book would not be released until tomorrow at the special session (which the pretty young woman at the booth earnestly recommended that I attend).

Later that day, I ran into Professor Saltz from Harvard. I was gratified that he remembered me and was friendly. He expressed surprise that my name tag listed my affiliation as the Carnegie Endowment instead of Charles University. I told him simply that I’d had a falling out with Briggs, and so had left Charles.

“You didn’t show him that paper you wrote for me, did you?” Saltz asked.

“He read it,” I replied, avoiding an explanation of precisely how Briggs had obtained a copy. “And he didn’t like it.”

“Well, that was predictable!” said Saltz. He then went on to say how this sort of pettiness was typical of Briggs, how I was probably better off out from under him, and best of all, how he would be glad to write letters of recommendation for me. I thanked him profusely, and he gave me his card. With letters from him and Trizenko, I think I have a good shot at getting into either the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies or the Georgetown School of Foreign Service—the two most difficult IR masters programs to get into around here, or anywhere else for that matter.

The next day, I was a little nervous going to the ballroom where Brigg’s special session was going to be held, since I didn’t really want to run into either him or Cohen. I needn’t have worried, though. The room was huge and there was already a crowd there even though I arrived several minutes before the session was due to start. I was surprised to see that C-SPAN was here with its cameras, and that the front of the room was flooded with light. Briggs and Cohen were already up on the stage, talking earnestly with a crowd of people who had gathered in front of them. I noticed Michael in this group. I knew that they wouldn’t spot me if I stayed behind the flood lights.

The publisher had set up a table at the back of the room which, as Angie would say, was doing a land office business selling Briggs’s new book at the 20% conference discount. I got in the long line to buy a copy and barely had time to do so from the pretty young woman I had met at the booth yesterday before the session began. I took a seat in the very last row.

Speaking in an excited voice, Brendan Cohen began the proceedings by introducing himself as a visiting scholar at Charles University (he made no mention of Cal State Barstow). “It is my great, great pleasure to be the moderator at this great, great session for my great, great friend, Barry Briggs.” It was obviously Brendan’s first time on camera. He was extremely nervous and excited. Little did he know what I had already learned this past summer at the Carnegie Endowment: C-SPAN does not air everything it tapes. Far from it.

When it was his turn to speak, Briggs began by saying how this was the very first time he’d seen the book himself. “I like the front cover,” he said, holding the book up for the camera. “But I like the back one even more.” He turned it around, and there was a photo of himself. The audience laughed at this.

He then went on to talk about how neo-radicalism was now more important than ever for understanding international relations, and castigated the “Washington foreign policy elite” for not being willing or able to understand this basic truth. As always, he put on a great performance.

After going on in this vain for awhile, Briggs said that he really didn’t want to listen to himself blather on, but to “engage in a dialogue with my colleagues in the audience about some of the issues I’ve raised about neo-radicalism here in my talk as well as my new book.” Brendan indicated that the floor was now open. Several C-SPAN minions moved to various strategic locations so that a remote microphone could be taken to anyone called upon anywhere in the large ballroom.

“Yes, Arch,” Brendan said, indicating Professor Faircloth from Gates University. It sounded to me like Brendan called him by his first name so that everyone would think that they knew each other well. I doubted, though, that Faircloth had ever even heard of Brendan (whom, I remembered, had seen him for the first time along with Briggs and Saltz at last year’s IRA conference).

Faircloth rose from his seat and waited for the remote mike to reach him before speaking. “Arch Faircloth, Gates University,” he began, in a somewhat annoyed tone. (I had learned this summer that people used to being on camera always stated their name and affiliation when speaking from the floor at a conference like this. Doing so would enable C-SPAN, or whoever, to display this information at their appearance in the edited version—something which was unlikely to occur for those who didn’t identify themselves.)

“I was looking through your index,” Faircloth continued, “and was very surprised to find that there is no entry for one of the leading international relations theorists of the past few years—your neighbor there at Harvard, Tim Saltz. Can you explain why?”

I could see Briggs and Cohen quickly open their copies of the book to the index. So was everyone else in the audience who had a copy, including me. No, there was no entry for Saltz there.

“This was clearly an oversight,” Briggs stammered. “I don’t quite know what happened here. I certainly meant to list Tim in the index—even if he is from Harvard.”

A few people laughed, but not many. Saltz then raised his hand and was called upon by Brendan. “Yes, Tim?” he inquired.

After waiting for the remote mike and introducing himself, Saltz said, “I’d like to reassure everyone that I don’t really mind not being listed in Barry’s index.” There was much more laughter at this.

“Seriously, though,” he continued, “I too was surprised by the index. Whether or not I should be listed there aside, I don’t see entries for any currently active international relations theorists, including one for our esteemed colleague, Professor Faircloth. Will you please explain why?”

There was a general stir among the audience. It was evident that a number of people were searching through the index and were displeased at not finding either their own or their friends’ names. I realized that this was Angie’s work. So did Briggs.

“I’m afraid I had a particularly inept research assistant this past spring,” he said in an exasperated tone. “Despite my very careful instructions about the need for the most inclusive index possible, she clearly screwed things up.”

There was another stir in the room. I heard several people ask the obvious question: “Hadn’t he checked the index himself before sending it back to the publisher?”

Brendan tried to get the session headed back in a positive direction. “There is much more to this book than the index!” he stated pompously. “Can we talk about its other parts? You there!”

I couldn’t see who had been called upon, but I recognized the voice immediately. And it was angry. “Doug Terenti, formerly of Charles University, now of Gates University! I have a question about another part of the book—the acknowledgements! I wonder why I don’t see my name there, since I worked long and hard on this book as Professor Briggs’s research assistant last fall.

“You do remember me, don’t you, Professor Briggs?” he continued. “It was my wife you seduced while I was doing your shit work in the library!”

There was a general uproar at this. Briggs looked taken aback, but Brendan was even more so. If he remembered Doug at all from meeting him at last year’s IRA conference, he probably assumed that he was still Briggs’s student at Charles, and that he would be a friendly questioner. He had no idea what had happened last December with Angie.

I found the acknowledgements myself. I was not surprised that neither Doug nor I were mentioned. I noticed, though, that Angie wasn’t either.

Brendan tried to restore order, but failed. Someone else down front got hold of a mike. Without introducing himself, he addressed himself not to Briggs, but to Doug. “What’s your wife’s name son?” he asked in a Texas drawl. “Was it Shivvy?”

I was shocked to hear her name here, and so was Briggs.

“Her name’s Angie,” Doug replied. “And she’s my ex-wife now.”

“Well then, who's Shivvy?” asked the Texan. “That’s who the book is dedicated to!’

I quickly turned to the dedication page and was shocked to find, “To Shivvy, with love,” printed there. Along with everyone else in the room, I stared intently at Briggs. Unlike everyone else, though, I knew what was going through his head.

He had been slower than me in turning to the dedication page. I could see that he was confused by what he read there. But suddenly confusion was replaced with a look of dawning realization. Up until then, he might have seen the screw up with the index as a result of some gross error on Angie’s part. But not this. Someone had to have deliberately put Shivvy’s name in the dedication. It hadn’t been him. Therefore it must have been Angie. And if she had deliberately tampered with the dedication, it was clear that she had deliberately tampered with the index too.

“That bitch wants to ruin me!” Briggs thundered.

“Would that be Angie or Shivvy?” asked the Texan, still with the mike.

“Shivvy’s not who I dedicated the book to! It has to be reprinted!” Briggs shouted. “No copy can leave this room! The publisher has to take it back!”

I turned around and looked at the publisher’s table. The young woman there had been steadily selling copies of the book throughout the session, and had sold out by now.

She looked stricken at hearing Briggs’s command. I don’t know if they could hear her at the front of the room without a mike, but all of us in the back clearly heard her declare, “All sales at the 20% conference discount are final! The books cannot be returned!” She then literally ran out of the room with her cash box and receipt book.

Everything was in chaos. “Stop the cameras! Stop the cameras!” shouted Brendan. The poor sap probably thought this was being broadcast live. A few moments later, though, the flood lights went off and the C-SPAN crew began to pack up and leave. They had apparently seen enough of Barrington Briggs.

It was Tim Saltz who managed to restore order. “Let’s continue with the session!” he called out in an authoritative voice. Truly great professors do not need microphones. They know how to project their voices. More importantly, people stop and listen when they start to speak.

Brendan thanked Saltz, and then recognized him to ask another question. “Let’s leave personal details and technical matters such as the index aside, and just talk about substance,” he commanded us. “The question I have for Barry is this: both in your presentation and in what I’ve seen glancing at the book so far, it seems to me that all you’ve really done here is rehash your last book with its critics. Am I right, Barry? Or is there anything new here?”

This set the tone for the kind of questioning Briggs received for the rest of the session. Thoroughly rattled by this time, though, Briggs did not respond well. His answers were defensive and unsatisfactory. The audience became increasingly hostile—at least, those who remained.

What was supposed to have been the triumphal presentation of his new book had turned into a complete disaster. As I left the room along with others, I heard people comment that “Briggs has lost it,” and that “He’ll never live this down.” I knew that word about what had happened would spread quickly. What Angie had done had gotten the ball rolling. And once it started, Briggs couldn’t stop it.

I went home to Angie and told her all about what I had seen. She seemed genuinely surprised that things could turn so sour for Briggs so quickly. She had doubted that the index would be noticed at the IRA conference itself, and had only expected some negative reviews later when it was. This alone, she knew, would bruise his inflated ego.

“How’d you alter the index without him knowing?” I asked.

She said it was simple. She knew that he wouldn’t want to go to the post office himself with the galleys and the index, but would ask her to do it for him. With that in mind, she noticed that the publisher’s instructions said that the index would not be sent back to the author for proofreading; the publisher would do this to save time at this very final stage. She had worked diligently with Barry to see to it that everyone who might review the book was listed in the index—and then she simply deleted these entries right before mailing the index back with the galleys. In case he even checked, though, she left the longer original index in Barry’s files.

The editors, she reasoned, would just check to see if what was in the index was okay. They would not be on the lookout for what wasn’t in it—especially since even the shortened version she sent them exceeded its “word budget.” The editors might have checked with Barry if Angie had altered the text, so she didn’t try doing that—except for taking her name out of the acknowledgements and “revising” the dedication.

I asked her to explain what had happened with these. As for the acknowledgements, she said that she simply didn’t want to be mentioned there, and deleted it on the galleys right before going to the post office. She figured that the editors wouldn’t question him about making a change like this.

Angie figured the same would be true with regard to the dedication. It was just before she went to the post office that she crossed out the name Barry had put there and inserted Shivvy’s. Angie said that she really hadn’t even thought about doing this, but had just done so on the spur of the moment.

“So whose name did you cross out?” I asked.

Angie’s face colored. She didn’t want to say.

“Come on! Who did he really dedicate the book to?”

“Me,” she responded.

“You?” Once again, I was amazed. “You took your own name out and put Shivvy’s in? Why?”

“I never confronted him directly about his cheating on me with Shivvy,” she said. “I was afraid that if I did, he’d either hit me or just admit it and laugh at me. Or worse still, he’d just tell me that I had misunderstood the nature of our relationship altogether. He would have said that he’d never intended to marry me, but had just taken me in to help me back on my feet after Doug and I broke up. He might have even said that he’d only screwed me in the first place because he knew I was lonely and unhappy, because he had felt sorry for me—nothing more.

“I wanted to find a way to confront him without his being able to say anything back,” she continued. “I wanted to show him that I knew about that girl and that he’d hurt me—not so much because I thought she meant anything to him but because their affair made me understand how little I meant to him. And I wanted to hurt him publicly because that’s the way he himself hurts people.

“I thought and thought about what to do, but couldn’t think of a thing. I was desperate that day before I went to the post office. I knew that altering the index would annoy him, but it wasn’t enough for me. And then suddenly it dawned on me that altering the dedication would send the message I wanted to send, and that he wouldn’t be able to respond.”

“And was the ‘with love’ in his original dedication?” I asked. “Was, ‘To Angie, with love,’ what he really wanted to say?”

“No,” she said mischievously. “It was just, `To Angie.’ I added that last part myself!

“I only wish,” she continued, “that I could have just been there for a few seconds, just to see what his face looked like when he realized what I had done.”

Much to our surprise, Angie got her wish the very next day when we were watching the ABC News. It was almost the end of the broadcast which, probably because it was Saturday, hadn’t contained much real news. I was just about to switch the TV off when I heard the anchorwoman (I can never remember the names of the people who do it on the weekend) say, “We’ll leave you this evening with a reminder that the world of academia is not necessarily as dull and dry as many people imagine it to be. It has its scandals, too. And sometimes they’re even captured on film, as occurred during a session of the International Relations Association annual conference currently being held in Washington, D.C.”

Angie and I stared dumbfounded as the anchorwoman’s image was suddenly replaced by those of Briggs and Cohen, both looking uncomfortable, on the stage of the hotel ballroom where I had seen them yesterday. Although not on the screen, the clip began with Doug’s angry voice asking, “You do remember me, don’t you, Professor Briggs? It was my wife you seduced while I was doing your shit work in the library!” Then came the voice of the Texan asking if his wife was named Shivvy, Doug’s denial, and the Texan again announcing that Shivvy was the one the book was dedicated to.

The camera had stayed focused on Briggs and Cohen, capturing all the contortions their faces had gone through during this. The most dramatic scene, though, was Briggs shouting, “That bitch is trying to ruin me!” followed by the Texan’s flippant query whether he meant Angie or Shivvy, and then Briggs shouting, “Shivvy’s not who I dedicated the book to!” as well as by how the book had to be reprinted and no copy could leave the room. The clip ended with Cohen, clearly in a panic, yelling, “Stop the cameras! Stop the cameras!”

“Okay! Okay!” said the anchorwoman, suddenly back on the screen. Then she shook her pretty head slightly and said, “Sorry, Shivvy. I guess this book wasn’t dedicated to you after all—no matter what it actually says!” After that, she signed off.

Angie whooped for joy. “Thank God my cell phone number is unlisted!” she said to me. “I don’t want that man to find me!” The phone, though, rang almost immediately. Angie insisted I answer it. It was Danielle calling to congratulate her. Craig and Lee phoned from Cambridge a few minutes later. She admonished them all not to give out her number.

I don’t know whether C-SPAN had aired the tape of the entire session. Clearly, though, ABC had somehow obtained this clip from it. Maybe others had too.

Nor did the story end there. The same anchorwoman came back on the next day, Sunday. At the end of the broadcast, she asked, “Remember the little academic contretemps we aired last night concerning whom a book was really supposed to have been dedicated to?”

This was followed by a very short clip just of Briggs shouting, “Shivvy’s not who I dedicated the book to!”

“Well, as you can imagine,” said the anchorwoman, suddenly reappearing, “Shivvy is very displeased. Not, though, from learning that the book’s dedication wasn’t really intended for her. She’s angry instead that her name appeared in it at all.

“For it turns out,” said the anchorwoman’s voice as a scene of Charles University appeared on the screen, “that there is only one person called Shivvy at Charles University, where the book’s author, Barrington Briggs, is a professor. And Shivvy is his student.”

The scene on the screen suddenly switched to what I recognized as the front lawn of the house where Shivvy’s parents live. There was Shivvy sobbing in the arms of her father on the left and her mother in front of a microphone bank on the right.

Then it was just her mother’s image that filled the screen. “My daughter has told me how this man has taken advantage of her!” she declared indignantly. “What’s worse, he appears to be bragging about it publicly! Well, we’re not going to take this! We’re suing him, and Charles University for allowing this to happen!”

The anchorwoman then reappeared. “Someone’s in trouble!” she said mischivously before signing off.

Angie and I were taken aback. Knowing Shivvy as I do, I doubted that it was remorse over having had sex with Briggs or, considering the deal that she had struck with him, indignation over being “used” by him that motivated her to turn on him publicly. Instead, she was angry that a book by him dedicated (intentionally or not) to her had publicized what had been their secret relationship. She would have been humiliated by the knowledge that Briggs would (of course) assign this new book as a text for his classes and that “everyone” she knew at Charles would see the dedication and understand what it implied, whether they’d seen the ABC News story about it or not. And all those who did see it, of course, would know that something illicit had been going on between her and Briggs.

She may even have feared (unreasonably but understandably in her state of panic) that the “A’s” from Briggs’s classes on her transcript as well as the glowing letters of recommendation from him (that she’d help write) would all be rendered worthless if the admissions officers in the business schools she was applying to even suspected that there had been a sexual relationship between them. Not talking about it all, she probably calculated, would not stop “everyone” from gossiping about her relationship with him, or worse, thinking she was maintaining silence in order to protect the man she loved. She may have even feared that I would pop up out of the blue and tell “everyone” what she had told me about the two of them last spring.

The bottom line for her was probably this: as long as “everyone” believed that she had had sex with Briggs, the “A’s” and letters of recommendation from him were no longer of value to her. This being the case, she may as well admit to what happened and at least get the benefit of claiming to be the victim of sexual misconduct. Maybe she could even turn the whole experience into a compelling theme for the essay she had to write for her business school applications.

Nothing about this story appeared on ABC after that Sunday evening. The next night, though, we got another call from Lee, saying she had heard there had been a demonstration against Briggs that day in front of Case Hall. Just afterward, she e-mailed us the link to the story from the campus newspaper’s website.

The story didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know, but the photograph accompanying it revealed much. There, with their fists in the air, were Shivvy, Professor DeKlerk, and Lisa Dudwick. Shivvy had cut her hair short like theirs. And there along with them was Michael Radkowski. The fact that “the Rat,” as Shivvy dubbed him, had deserted Briggs was a sure sign that his ship was sinking.

This made sense too. Michael had been at Briggs’s disastrous session at the IRA conference. He probably calculated that, with Briggs’s reputation shot, being seen as his student would no longer be an asset but a liability. It was time, then, for Michael to attach himself to someone else. And Michael, of course, could never resist kicking anyone who was down anyway.

Whether this was true or not, I knew that Briggs was going to have to fight hard just to save his job. Even if he succeeded, his reputation was already lost.

Angie was frightened that Briggs was going to come after her somehow, but she herself had made that virtually impossible. Not only, as I mentioned before, was her phone number unlisted (as was mine), but Angie had not bothered to ask the Postal Service to forward her mail when she left Briggs’s house. She just let the few parties whom she wanted or needed to continue contact with know her new address instead.

Furthermore, since Angie had moved up to Massachusetts shortly after marrying Doug last year, she hadn’t had time to change her name on all her records in Virginia. Although she’d used Doug’s last name up north, she went back to using her father’s last name when we moved. “Barry never even knew what it was,” she commented. “He didn’t know much about me at all, and wasn’t interested enough to ask.”

No, he didn’t know much about her. But he ended up learning a lot more about her true characcter than he wished!

But while this episode is certainly not over for him, it is for us. So this is where I will end this diary.

I know now that there will be no future biographers or intellectual historians who will ever peruse this. I feel embarrassed remembering that I ever thought there would be. But if nothing else, the diary will serve to remind Angie and me in the years ahead about how we met and how we fell in love.

[There’s a few things we might want to delete, though, before we let our children see it.]