The young freelancer told me that her father was a college English professor. I asked if he wrote too. She said he used to, but doesn't anymore. "I buy him notebooks for his birthday," she said, "in hopes of encouraging him. And he says, 'Thanks. I'll use it for my to-do lists.'"
It made me wonder if daily contact with the greats makes it difficult to practice their profession. Most writers read the classics in school and then move on, dipping into them from time to time but not living with them day after day. We are not constantly reminded of the enormous gap between our meager efforts and works of true genius, and that forgetfulness makes it possible for us to continue.
A story in this morning's Herald tells of the death of Zoo Miami's "beloved Komodo dragon" (three words you rarely hear strung together) who appeared on Late Night with David Letterman. "He was," the zoo's Ron Magill is quoted as saying, "just a wonderfully laid-back lizard."
In her Spectator restaurant reviews, Tanya Gold often doesn't mention the food until the penultimate paragraph, but it's almost always worth the wait. Writing of a London restaurant in the April 30th issue, she could have been describing half the restaurants in America: "The food is for giants who love salt."
At Fresh Market this morning I came upon two young women speaking German in front of the refigerated beer case. One had her hand on a bottle of Bud Light.
"Are you from Germany?" I asked.
They told me they were, and that they were looking for an American beer.
"That's about the worst one," I told them, pointing to the Bud. Then I asked how long they were staying. They said till tomorrow. I directed them to Riverside Market, adding that they'd have the thrill of crossing a swing bridge on their way there.
Having done my good deed for the day, I'm off to Key West tomorrow, to do a reading at the new Books & Books, probably from the chapter on Key West.