Letter of Recommendation

by Joe Wenderoth

I write to recommend my protégé, Ashley Jenkins.  While I have not yet spoken with Ashley in person, I have been working with her for months in preparation for a meeting, and indeed, it is my experience of her in this period that makes me feel qualified—and more than happy—to write this letter on her behalf.

What can I say about Ashley Jenkins?  That stink-haired fiddler in the middle of the gloom.  That pining animus.  What can anyone say?  Maybe trust is a good word to start with.  My fairly complicated email history with Ashley has been so pleasant—any twinges of fear I might have felt at the beginning are forgotten to me now.  We’ve gotten to be in a really good place, and I’m quite certain that’s not just because of me.  Ashley’s laid-back but knowledgeable prose has come, over time, to put me quite at ease, which probably explains whatever decency I’ve contributed to our history together.  Certainly nothing has been given to Ms. Jenkins—to this I am willing to attest.  Nor is she in the business of theft.  What she is in possession of is hers, and she worked for it.

The extraordinary depth of trust that characterizes our relationship—personal and professional (personal and professional having become indistinguishable)—has provided us with some advantages, the most pronounced of which, I think, has been the freedom to begin to imagine the intimacy of the meeting that has been proposed.  Ashley has written to me, from very early on in our work together, of her strong but not overpowering sense of that intimacy, and I must confess that I have never felt inclined to doubt her.  This is no small point; it is the intimacy of the proposed meeting that we are talking about here, and the intimacy of the meeting—I’m sure you hardly need to be reminded—is in many ways the meeting itself.  And so then am I learning about the meeting itself from someone who stands for all the world to see in the role of my student?  Once I asked myself this question, I knew that Ashley had become more than a student; I knew that now she was a protégé.  A protégé is a student one can learn from.

I have said that I am convinced that Ashley has a strong sense of the intimacy of our proposed meeting.  I have not said, however, what that sense is.  I’m sure you would like me to speak to this question, given that everything is riding on it.  I would like, for my own sake as well as for the sake of this letter, to be perfectly transparent in my discussion of the question.  Obviously, if her sense of the intimacy of the meeting is extremely positive, this might be said to influence my decision to work with her, and hence to write this letter.  Well, nothing could be further from the truth.  Her sense of the intimacy of the meeting is not, as it turns out, overwhelmingly positive.  I wouldn’t call it negative… but it’s not overwhelmingly positive either.  Sensual, yes, maybe.  Practical, yes.  Ordinary, yes.  Middle of the road, yes.  Certainly not a pose.  Having been in this business for many years now, I feel certain that I am able to tell the posers from the real thing; it does not even require effort anymore.

While we have not decided yet where exactly we will meet, and have not settled either on an exact date—this is not so much due to any uncertainty or difficulty as it is due to our immunity to the anxious machinations of schedule-makers.  To be convinced of the intimacy of the meeting is to have already assumed that the meeting will take place.  I know that the meeting will take place because I believe in Ashley Jenkins.  And I believe in Ashley Jenkins because, well, to quote Ashley herself, “I feel sometimes like I’m one of those mothertruckers that can see the future and shit.”  I expect you know the mothertruckers she means… because I am one of them.  And you know me.  You have been listening to my voice.

Please do not contact me or speak to anyone of what I have written in this letter.  This letter is for you, and you alone, and I have only sent it because of the strict confidence your ritual bathes itself in.

I love you,

Joe Wenderoth
Professor Of English
UC Davis
Davis, CA 95616