—–Recently a reporter for a local weekly newspaper set up an interview with me, and then never showed up for it. It was supposed to take place at Aladdins, a vegetarian restaurant on Monroe Avenue, where I waited at a table in the window.  At first I just didn’t order anything; it had occurred to me already, to be sure, that maybe this interview wasn’t going to happen. I just felt I hadn’t established a solid link with the obviously nervous young woman who had called on the phone. I thought, “she doesn’t even know who I am,” even while talking with her. It was so tenuous, she seemed to be asking me if it was alright if she interview me, as if she assumed I had better things to do. Then, inexplicably, I had gotten into a series of defensive arguments, trying to explain who I was to her, as if I had set it up, or called her! By the time I was sitting in Aladdins I was downright hoping it wouldn’t happen. I was doomed,  sick of going over what I might say, to someone who was sent out on an assignment that didn’t interest her, and skeptical about its importance, and whether it could possibly yield a story for her.  I was absolutely certain she would be so unfamiliar with anything I had done, and so full of wrong assumptions, based on what she had been told, or what category she automatically put me in, that all I had done for preparation was come up with fatuous, self-aggrandizing and complicated explanations of myself, and apologies for what would undoubtably appear to her to be my advanced age, since I was probably going to be old enough to be her Uncle. I mean I could hear how young, how sweet and scared she was, in the poor girl’s voice; sometimes the newspaper uses interns even, and one ends up totally coaching them, supplying the story, any old plausible story just to give them a feeling of accomplishment!  But when it appeared that she was seriously late, or, heaven be praised!, not showing up at all, I started growing calmer and calmer, triumphantly calmer, as if I had prevailed in some combat, into which I had been willy-nilly drawn by the exigencies of my growing and inevitable, but still dubious, status in the public eye. Prevailed over what? Well, I don’t know . . .
—–But I was so totally calm by the time I left the vegetarian restaurant, where I had managed to sit without ordering anything, no salad with strips of tofu, no aromatic tea, for an entire hour and a half, I was so light-headed, euphoric, light-footed even, and ready for anything. I was renewed, I still am renewed, refreshed by this experience, this interview that didn’t happen, but that, in not happening afforded me the opportunity to review my situation, talk it over with myself (I can almost see myself waving my arms in the restaurant in conversation with an imaginary person sitting with me–though of course I did no such thing, but sat rigid and incommunicado, probably scaring the waitress with my stoic intensity, or maybe impressing her–ah, the young waitress, so impressionable!–with my obvious fortitude, for clearly I was waiting, not ordering food yet myself but waiting for someone to join me, but who, as the time passed, clearly now was not showing up). But also, clearly, if she was watching me–this other young woman, I was being the gentleman, patiently waiting, able to amuse himself with his own thoughts even as he was being stood up, by God knows who, I was the victor and, at the very least the victim–I mean it was that other person, the newspaper reporter (though of course the waitress knows nothing!), it was her bad fortune, not to get an interview. Boy did she miss out! And at last I think I finally got out of Aladdins, before the waitress began to have darker thoughts about what I was doing there.

Advertisements