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优秀的标准
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在接下来的几周内,约翰慢慢地变了:变得听话而不再故意作对,遇事能心平气和地商讨而不再强词夺理。他变得更明事理、更有礼貌,也更体贴人了。他也乐于讨人欢喜。每天晚上都要说:“妈妈,晚饭好极了。”

He would generously loan his younger brother his tapes and lecture him on the niceties of behaviour; without a word of objection, he would carry in wood for the stove. One day when I suggested that he might start on homework before dinner, John -- a veteran procrastinator – said, “You're right. I guess I will.”
他会很慷慨地把自己的磁带借给弟弟,并告诫他如何有良好的行为举止;他会毫无怨言地把烧炉子用的劈柴抱进来。有一天当我建议他在晚饭前开始做作业时,约翰这个一贯拖拉的家伙居然说:“您是对的,我想我会做的。”

When I mentioned this incident to one of his teachers and remarked that I didn't know what caused the changes, she said laughing. "It must be his coat!" Another teacher told him she was giving him a good mark not only because he had earned it but because she liked his coat. At the library, we ran into a friend who had not seen our children in a long time, “Could this be John?" he asked, looking up to John's new height, assessing the cut of his coat and extending his hand, one gentleman to another.
当我对他的一个老师提起这件事,并说我不知道这是为什么时,她笑着说:“一定是因为他的大衣!”另一个老师告诉他,她要给他一个好成绩,不仅仅因为他理应获得,还因为她喜欢他的大衣。在图书馆里我们遇见了一位朋友,他已经很长时间没有看见我们的孩子了。看着约翰长高的个子,品评着他大衣的样式,这位朋友不禁问道:“这是约翰吗?” 同时向约翰伸出了手,完全是绅士间的行为。

John and I both know we should never mistake a person's clothes for the real person within them. But there is something to be said for wearing a standard of excellence for the world to see, for practising standards of excellence in though, speech, and behaviour, and for matching what is on the inside to what is on the outside.
约翰和我都知道不应该以貌取人,可穿着优雅为世人看,在思想上、言语上、行动上实践优秀的标准,以达到内外的和谐统一,这又另当别论。

Sometimes, watching John leave for school, I've remembered with a keen sting what it felt like to be in the eighth grade -- a time when it was as easy to try on different approaches to life as it was to try on a coat. The whole world, the whole future is stretched out ahead, a vast panorama where all the doors are open. And if I were there right now, I would picture myself walking through those doors wearing my wonderful, magical coat.
有时看着约翰上学去,我就不禁怦然心动,想起自己上8年级时的感觉——那时尝试不同的生活方式就如同试衣服一样简单。整个世界、整个未来在你面前展开,犹如一幅巨大的画卷,那里的每一扇门都敞开着。如果此刻我能回到那儿,我会在这些门间穿行,身上就穿着那件奇妙的、带有魔力的大衣。
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