This was when New Hampshire, that somber state, was plagued, for months, by self-immolation. Put simply and more precisely, people were blowing themselves up. Every week someone did it, and the blood and flesh was not always found and cleaned for many days. This was in the arctic depths of winter, when the population had doubled in anticipation of the primaries, when rental-car agencies were booming with business, when the roadside sporting-goods stores were briskly selling gloves and hats to clueless West Coast reporters and functionaries, and when people were blowing themselves up at a rate that was quickly becoming alarming. No one could figure out why the people were doing it. About twice a week for seven weeks thus far, someone blew him- or herself up and no one knew who they were or why they were doing this. It was unsettling to everyone, and it was casting a pall over the entire primary season, usually one filled with so much good-humored rancor and hatred.
The rest of this story is no longer online, but does appear in the book "The Unforbidden Is Compulsory, or Optimism."