LINCOLN LIVES. SHAKESPEARE LIVES. ELVIS LIVES. Fame confers a form of immortality.
That's what we're offering.
The Washington Post of Jan. 1, 2000, will be a special issue, a time capsule to be kept for posterity. Special copies will be available, sealed in plastic. In the issue, we will try to answer the question: Who were we at the end of the second millennium?*
At the end of the first millennium, in the year 1000, people bathed five times a year, had boulder-lifting contests, and considered leeches cutting-edge medical technology. How will we look to the people of Y3K?
Help us tell them.
Send us your autobiography, in 100 words or fewer. We will select 50 or more stories for publication. They will become the core of our time capsule, and together we hope they will define us with honesty and eloquence.
We are looking for simple stories, well told. Write about whatever it is you feel best describes who you are. You can be poignant, wry, sad or funny. You can talk about your family, your job, your fears, your hopes. You can write of your entire life or of a single defining moment. We ask only that your story be true.
Here are a few samples we made up, to give you an idea of what we are looking for:
My name is Theodore Davisson. I am an ophthalmic surgeon. My father was Carlton Davisson. He was a fireman. His father was Isaac Davisson Jr. He was a grocer, and once when I was little he showed me a chestnut and said it was God's heart and I believed him, and I suppose I still do. His father was Isaac Davisson Sr. He worked for the Union Pacific railroad. His father was Stephen Davisson. He put up fences for people. His father was just called Teddy. He had no last name. He was owned by someone named Abner Davisson.
My name is Catherine C. Woodlin. I live in Vienna, Va. If I could live my life over, here is what I would do. I would marry precisely the same grumpy, pigheaded, steadfast, wonderful man, and I would give birth to Meg and Timmy, precisely as I did, and I would get cancer and survive it, precisely as I did. I am no philosopher, but I believe the meaning of life is life itself. In that, there is joy enough for anyone.
My name is Karenna Marcato and I am 9 years old. I am going to be an actress because then you can be all these different people and really believe you are them. I live in Bethesda, Md., and my mom is Arlene Janet Marcato and my wish for the world is that there is enough food to feed people all over the world and also that there are no more divorces.
My name is Phillip Scherbanski. I am a retired police officer. Sometimes I dress up in my old uniform and go out in public. Gravely, I issue to people official-looking citations for infractions such as "failure to demonstrate a positive attitude," or "conducting oneself in a pompous manner." Most people don't question authority. They meekly accept the ticket, and never notice the cop walking away with a grin from ear to ear. I consider this my job.
Autobiographies may be submitted by mail, e-mail, Fax, or online at The Washington Post Web site, www.washingtonpost.com. The mail address is "Biographies," Style Section, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. The e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Fax number is 202-334-4312. All submissions must include your postal address, and a daytime and evening phone number. Entries will become the property of The Washington Post and are subject to editing and to verification for accuracy. The deadline for entries is Oct. 15, 1999.
*Note to millennial purists: We know, strictly speaking, the millennium doesn't end until Jan. 1, 2001. But how much are we going to change between now and then?