Overheard

I once had lunch with a very successful writer -- an Author. You would recognize the name instantly. The problem was that we were sitting at different tables. Two tables, separated only by an aisle in a nearly empty restaurant, for a lazy mid-afternoon lunch in a nice Italian restaurant. I didn't pay much attention at first until my lunch partner whispered and did an amazing eye thing to direct my attention. My wife was a champion eavesdropper, but I never perfected the skill because she was so good and would always share what she heard. In this instance I was on my own. The nearby conversation was loud enough that it was easy to overhear what was being said. The Author has a distinctive voice and sound carried in the mostly empty room. Our own conversation was disjointed and lagged because we were now zoned in to the neighboring table. I used to mildly scold my wife for not paying attention to my important table comments in this kind of situation but all that was out the window. It turns out that the conversation of interest was between the Author and his financial advisor, and the discussion was about whether he should buy a Ferrari or a Maserati. I almost choked which would have given away the supposed secrecy of our interest. I tried to ignore the conversation -- really, I did. We continued in our own peasant small talk for a few minutes. We tried to be virtuous and pretend that there was nothing going on. That lasted for a few minutes until I heard him say "...I like round numbers, go ahead and put another $800,000 in the pot." My head swiveled involuntarily. The financial guy was looking a little flustered for a second or two but recovered nicely. A nice round numbered investment -- somebody was going to have a very good day. I was finished eating but ordered a coffee and was considering dessert. This was too much to leave behind.

I had a similar late lunch one time with singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman. She was gorgeous in a very relaxed and casual way but sadly, she was in the restaurant booth directly behind me facing the opposite direction. We were inches apart, surely closer than her friends at the table. I was engaged in a business meeting lunch and could not hear what was going on behind me. From the laughter and the voices, it was simply a friends' time together. No Ferrari or Maserati involved.

Comments 1

 
Rosy Cole on Monday, 13 September 2021 17:23

An imaginative bargaining chip, though I suppose posh wheels might be an actual investment :-) When I was a publisher's reader, it was axiomatic that established authors never settled on a first offer. Nowadays many, perhaps most, get no offer at all and still have to pay their way for production and publicity, plus contract to buy a large number of copies themselves. I'm talking about mainstream imprints. Anyway, you've rubbed shoulders (almost) with literary fame! Reminds me of this, from Robert Browning.

Ah, did you once see Shelley plain,
And did he stop and speak to you?
And did you speak to him again?
How strange it seems, and new!

An imaginative bargaining chip, though I suppose posh wheels might be an actual investment :-) When I was a publisher's reader, it was axiomatic that established authors never settled on a first offer. Nowadays many, perhaps most, get no offer at all and still have to pay their way for production and publicity, plus contract to buy a large number of copies themselves. I'm talking about mainstream imprints. Anyway, you've rubbed shoulders (almost) with literary fame! Reminds me of this, from Robert Browning. [i]Ah, did you once see Shelley plain, And did he stop and speak to you? And did you speak to him again? How strange it seems, and new![/i]
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