THE YEAR IS 2001 and I am on the subway. It is the Number 1 train, going uptown, and I am heading to a reading of Slab Rat, my first published novel. (It’s my first ever reading, too, and I’m nervous.) It’s four in the afternoon and the car I’m on is not crowded. I see, directly across from me, a gorgeous, olive-skinned brunette sitting and reading a book. She’s not tall enough to be a model and not quite emaciated enough, but she is on the flawless side (her nose is a bit long, but who cares?). I swallow and tell myself not to stare and I follow through on it: I do not stare, for that would just be wrong. But then, while nobly avoiding eye contact, I see what book she is reading. It’s Slab Rat! Oh my God! She’s reading my book and, I can tell, she’s enjoying it, too. Perhaps she’s also on her way to the reading?
This opportunity, I quickly realize, is highly unlikely to ever occur again. I may never get another book published, and if I do ever get another book published I may not ever again see someone else reading it, and if I do ever get a book published and see someone else reading it, the person most likely will most likely not be, as this woman is, a dead ringer for Monica Vitti circa The Red Desert. Should I do something? Do I bust some sort of move? “You have to do something,” I hear a strange, anxious voice telling me. It’s my voice . . . and it’s saying: “This is one of the three reasons you became a writer in the first place, fool!” (The other two reasons being: 1) to write books that don’t sell well, and 2) because I can’t do anything else.) So, after the subway comes to a sudden stop between stations, I stand up and approach her and tell her that I am the author of the book that is currently reducing her to hysterics. She looks up at me, looks at the photo on the book jacket, and tears of delight quickly well in her eyes. She begins to melt.
The above scene did not happen. Of course it didn’t.
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