I confess that I scoffed at the idea that the autobiography of a world-renowned twentieth-century Chilean poet could be very interesting. I was wrong. Neruda emerged from an obscure town in a disregarded corner of the planet to live a fascinating life that uplifted people all around the world. He tells his story masterfully, relating his own experiences and his perceptions of major world events with a poetic flair and a tinge of humor that delight and entertain the reader.
Pablo Neruda was the original Most Interesting Man in the World. Besides being a famous poet, he also held jobs as a consul in many cities throughout Asia, Europe, and Latin America, as well as a senator in Chile. He was in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, which influenced him to become a militantly political communist. He was stymied by bureaucrats when he had a chance to foil the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. His political activities forced him into hiding from his own government for several months, until he dramatically escaped into exile over the Andes Mountains into Argentina. He met and was friends with an astounding number of famous writers, painters, and world leaders. He won the Stalin Peace Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature. He read his poetry in front of tens of thousands of people at a time. He was marked as an enemy by the CIA. Even his death was interesting: many continue to believe that he was secretly assassinated.
Reading about the amazing events of Pablo Neruda’s life left me feeling only one emotion: inadequacy. My life is so incredibly boring by comparison that I feel like a failure, like a waste of a human being. But then I realized that most people in this world don’t live lives nearly as interesting as Neruda’s. Which got me wondering: how interesting am I? Where does my life rank on the list of most interesting people on the planet?
So I did some research – and by “some” I mean a shit-ton. It turns out that I am the 2,257,113,409th most interesting person in the world. Which, out of more than 7 billion, really isn’t too bad. Top third. I’m pleased with my rank, but not completely satisfied.
With an eye to improving my position, I scoped out the life of the person just ahead of me. Number 2,257,113,408 is Genevieve Baptiste, a 47-year-old acupuncturist from Marseille, France. She has a flourishing vegetable garden, she’s learning to speak Romanian, she dominates her effeminate husband at dominos, and (and this is where she pulls ahead of me) she frequently sunbathes at a nude beach.
My mission is now clear. If I want to move up in the ranks, I’m going to have to get into better shape, shave off some unseemly body hair, and unleash my sexy on some nude beaches. I’m coming for you, Genevieve Baptiste!
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