The last time I had a writers’ group, it met in a cooperative artists’ studio/gallery. It was a good writers’ group, in that it was encouraging, with a few talented regulars, and it did not meet at the bookstore where I worked at the time.
Still, every now and then, a bookstore customer would show up there.
Let’s be honest. I probably invited most of them. Which sounded like a good idea at the time. In 99% of the cases, it was a good idea.
And then, there was “Herbert.”
The first time I met Herbert–or at least, the first time I remember him–was at one of those “pitch your book” events. Herbert’s book–it was more an idea for a book really–was The Lives of Retired Porn Stars. (He may have had a catchier title.) He intended to interview retired porn stars about their lives.
The problem… which our industry professionals pointed out with superhuman tact and delicacy… was that Herbert did not know any porn stars. And, believe it or not, a publisher is not going to hook you up with porn stars to interview just because you have an idea for a book.
So… faced with the challenge of meeting porn stars in a morally upstanding, Midwestern city, Herbert turned to the most obvious place: Booksellers.
And that’s where I come in. Hi.
Yes. In addition to the aforementioned pitch your book event, the bookstore where I worked had also hosted events for a couple of porn stars-cum-authors.
No. I didn’t work at either of those events. I didn’t even work the day of those events. No, like most of the women at the bookstore, I was smart enough to take a quick step backward when they were looking for volunteers.
And from all accounts, that was a wise choice.
But Herbert needed porn stars, and he recognized me from an event at the same venue, and two plus two=join my writers’ group.
‘Cause then, we’ll be friends, and of course, I’d be willing to do a friend a favor. (Like, you know… quick little flip through the company Rolodex.)
He never wrote anything, or if he did, he never shared with the group. He always thought whatever I’d done was brilliant. (‘Cause, Besties.) And if there was any possible way, he’d be sitting next to me.
If those chairs were taken, he’d wedge another chair in.
If I was in an arm chair, he’d sit on the arm of that chair.
And if my artist friends rearranged the better-than-life-sized, barbed wire, male nudes so they pointed at the arms of the chair? Well, he’d just have to arch his back.
The last I knew, Herbert was in the hospital, after a heart attack. He missed a meeting, and someone called to check on him. I hope he got better, realized life is short, and started writing for real. Maybe he wrote the great American novel, got a pseudonym, and bought a yacht. Let’s say he did.
I don’t know that he didn’t.
Oh? There has to be a moral to this story? Very well,then. The moral of the story is this: Plan ahead. You don’t want to be lying on your death bed wishing you’d spent more time cultivating meaningful relationships with porn stars. (Or with your family, or your friends, or writing a book. Whatever.)