So, just when I was beginning to feel a little better about myself and realized that I never really looked like a caveman, (again, not that there’s anything wrong with that), Richard’s client and his wife invited us to a swanky dinner party at their country club to “celebrate life.”
“Groovy,” I said. “I’m all about celebrating life.” The invitation suggested we wear “chic” attire, so I wore a rather short dress with fishnet stockings and stiletto pumps. I always look for reasons to wear my fishnets, like great parties, grocery shopping, and Tuesdays.
When we walked into the room at the country club where the other party guests were assembled, all thoughts of feeling like a caveman disappeared when I realized we were easily 40 years younger than anyone else there. There were cavemen, alright, but I wasn’t one of them.
We sat down at a table that had a few empty seats and tried to join in the conversation with some authentic cavemen and cavewomen. Someone asked the caveman sitting next to me if he was still working. “No,” he said, “I have been retired for 20 years. I used to be in advertising.” Sensing an opportunity to participate in the witty repartee I blurted, “Right after I graduated from college I was hired as a Sears Catalog Copywriter!” I was so excited by the prospect of being in on the conversation with these people whose worlds revolved around Ivy League educations and trips to Machu Picchu that I awaited his response as if it would be gift wrapped. It was gift wrapped, alright. Like a giant poop. “Well,” he chortled, “that’s just meaningless work. It’s just verbiage.”
Verbiage? Verbiage? I began to feel like the Lion from The Wizard of Oz singing about the word “courage” in the song “If I Were King of the Forrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrresstt.” I wanted to slap ol’ Smarmy Smarmerson from top to bottom-mus.” Where would we be without words,” I thought to myself? Can images alone sell products? Maybe sometimes, but how could you tell the difference between the “good”, “better”, and “best” augers and post hole diggers without words? Yes, I wrote about farm equipment for the Sears Catalog, but someone had to do it. I was eventually promoted to “soft lines” (clothing) and wrote about men’s shirts and underwear. Ask me anything about poly/cotton blends vs. 100% cotton. Go ahead! Ask me!
So, I looked at Richard as if he might be able to save me, but he just looked at me with a little smug smirk and said nothing. I wanted to ask the rude caveman, who by now I assumed was the King of All Cavemen, if he preferred the Brontosaurus burgers or the fillet of Triceratops on the Titanic. As I was about to tip-toe upon the fence of rudeness (I don’t do rude, but I was about to!) someone asked the King of All Cavemen if he liked to read, to which he responded, “Why, yes. I read John Grisham voraciously.” I sensed my moment and pounced. “John Grisham,” I said? I looked at Richard’s grin which was beginning to turn into a grimaced panic when he realized in the blink of every false eyelash in the room that I was going to stick up for myself even if he wouldn’t. “He’s a hack.”* I not only heard pins drop. I heard false teeth clatter shut. OK. Now I was feeling a lot better.
After dinner we were entertained by a magician/comedian named Dennis who was looking our way when he needed a volunteer from the audience for his next trick. I noticed Richard sliding down in his chair and looking every other way but toward Dennis, so I did what every other wife would do: I pointed to him behind his back so Dennis would pick him, which he did. Richard never saw it coming. He was doing his best not to be seen without knowing I was doing my best to make sure he would be seen, without him seeing me, of course.
Dennis asked him for his name. “Richard,” he said loudly with abundant annoyance. “Ok, Richard,” Dennis said, “does anyone ever call you Dick?” I thought he’d tell Dennis that I did because I do, but no. He said something much worse. He said, “Does anyone ever call YOU Dick?” That’s when I totally regretted my decision to try to get Dennis to choose Richard for the trick. My next trick was going to be to try to disappear, but the best I could do was cover my face with my hands. More pins dropping. Many more false teeth clattering shut.
I clicked my stilettos three times in Richard’s direction. Luckily he knew that my shoes were telling him “There’s no place like home.” So, we went off to see the wizard – the valet – who brought us our car. I was so happy to be going home because I, apparently, had no brain or courage. But, I have a lot of heart.
*Dear Mr. John Grisham, Sir:
You are NOT a hack, obviously! I mean you know that. I know that. The whole world knows that. I never meant to call you, personally, a hack. You, Mr. John Grisham Sir, are a highly respected published writer with a way cool website at Random House, no less, with edgy music played by an entire orchestra, no less, and your latest book The Appeal was called “a novel that could become its own era defining classic” by the Boston Globe. The Boston Globe! And you wrote The Firm! A classic!! (And a gazillion other classics). All I have is a little blog with a few little posts.
I just needed something to throw in the rude Caveman’s face, and there was your name. I meant no disrespect. Your book The Innocent Man was chosen as a book for Oprah’s Book Club! I would have called J.D. Salinger or William Freaking Shakespeare a hack if I had to in order to defend the written word, no matter its form, John, I mean Mr. Sir John Grisham, Sir. And, I’m not just saying this. You are so cute. I mean really cute.
So, please accept my apology for using your name in vain. I won’t do it again. I promise. Are we ok?