Dear Dr. Boli: Being awfully inquisitive, I have two matters on which I would like enlightenment. First, could you tell me the deepest, darkest secrets of a certain friend of mine, Phil Briggs? (In case you are not familiar, Phil Brigs is pretty much blonde hair plus energy plus a rare sense of Briggsiness.) Second, what are your thoughts on the morality of napkin-throwing? I am decidedly against such antics. As always, I trust in your benevolence and sagacity. You are to me like the Great Pumpkin to Linus Van Pelt. Thank you so much, Ginevra Boynton.

Dear Madam: Has this Briggs fellow you mention been throwing napkins at you? The ethics of such an act depend entirely on the spirit in which it is received by the victim. If one knows that one’s victims are likely to respond with gay laughter and perhaps a hail of dinner rolls, it is a harmless enough diversion. If, on the other hand, the victims are likely to respond with seething resentment and elaborately plotted revenge, the whole thing degenerates rapidly into something that resembles an amateur college production of a play by Agatha Christie.

As for the first part of your question, Dr. Boli may or may not know certain secrets, but he is not in the habit of revealing what has been entrusted to him in confidence. He has arranged that his memoirs should be published a century after his death, a melancholy but inevitable event that he keeps putting off as long as he has better things to do. He will not say whether your friend’s name appears in the manuscript, but he can warn the world to expect a few stunningly unexpected revelations on the subject of James Buchanan.