Separate Spheres

Jamaica Kincaid called me a "master swimmer" during a dinner gathering

last week, which threw me for quite a loop.

At first, I did not understand why her comment--an especially flattering


one--made me uneasy, but I have realized that it was awkward because I

do not identify myself as an athlete in academic settings.

As I spoke with Ms. Kincaid about her literature and the world at large, I

was an intellectual, a scholar, a thinker. I was in my academic mode.

My world of athletics was a mere shadow in my mind--if present at

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