The Irreplaceable Jeff Tucker

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Stephen, you couldn’t be more right. There is no one quite like Jeff Tucker. Those pieces you cite couldn’t have been written by anyone else. What’s particularly funny is how authoritatively he speaks on things like electric fans, such that you don’t dream of questioning him.
At an Austrian Scholars Conference not long ago, a bunch of professors heading to lunch got to talking about Jeff and his pieces. One particularly liked Jeff’s recommendation that while you had to have $440 shoes, you could get by with $3 trousers from the thrift store. “After buying those shoes, I’d have to get my wardrobe from a thrift store,” one of them said.

When Jeff latches on to something — whether it’s baking your own bread or (the thing he was into when I was down there about ten years ago) rubbing salt into hams to make your own salt-cured ham — it is a matter of time before Jeff develops a full-blown theory about it, and why it is fundamental to the human experience.

Another one from the mid-1990s: Jeff was on a tear about the misuse of the plural in sentences like “Everyone should mind their own business.” Jeff was going out of his way to say “his” in sentences like that. Thus when he made his own gumbo — another Tucker project — he was certain to ask his dinner guests, “Is everyone enjoying his gumbo?”

You just have to meet him, is all I can say. And no, he’s not just pretending to be fascinated by whatever it is you’re talking about. That’s how he really is.

11:12 am on June 17, 2005