Something like this really happened.

A waitress in a local coffee shop was complaining to me and everyone else about being 47.  Her body aches with middle age.  Her eyes hurt.  She hates it.

Riffing on your age is only socially acceptable if you are between 40 and 60 years old.  If you are over 60, nobody wants to hear it.  Under 30 it brings resentment.  Between 30 and 40 it’s considered kind of weird to mention it.

The same is true of novel writing.

I assured her that in three years she’ll feel freer.  I did when I turned 50.   At 50, you suddenly get acquitted for the crime of being yourself in public.  Which is kind of cool.

She was mildly annoyed.  “Come on, you don’t look anything like 50.  You’re joking.  Honey, wait’ll you get to be my age.”

I responded, “I’m actually 51.  You should see my portrait.”

If this were fiction that would be an exit line.  And somebody would whine about my pretentiousness, pompousness, undeserving sense of play, how I really should know “anybody can say that” – who do I think I am, why do I write in first person, don’t I think a lot of other people would like to quote Oscar Wilde in a coffee shop, what makes me so special, whatever. 

Instead, the waitress, who appeared to know nothing of literary allusions, faked polite enthusiasm.  “Oh, you got your picture taken?  Oooh, let’s see.”

And that is why I adore fiction.

Of course I had nothing to show her.   But that isn’t the point.

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One Response to Something like this really happened.

  1. Eva says:

    I’d like a cafe mocha with the novel, please.

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