Men in Airport Bars Ask: “What Do You Do?”


“You write romance or …?”

“Like the Harry Potter lady?”

“My daughter is a literature major.”

“Like Carrie Bradshaw!”

“I’m thinking of writing a cookbook for college students. College students hate to cook, have no money, and don’t care about good food. They don’t care about shit. When I was in college, I cared about girls and partying. Imagine a cookbook that says, OK, here’s how you boil water. I told this guy I know who works in publishing about my idea, and he said, ‘You know? You might be onto something.’ He said, ‘You might be onto something, Collin.’ “

“If you heard my story … oh, boy. I’ll tell you this: if you wrote even half my story, you’d never have to work another day in your life.”

“Do you have anything published? Oh, yeah? Where do you sell your books? Can I get one at my library? I’m going to promise you something: I’m going to get your book from my library and read it and then I’ll give you my honest opinion. Stop looking at me like that. You think I’m not going to borrow your book from the library. Like, ‘Yeah, right, Mitch.’ Want to bet? Want to shake on it? What do you want to bet?”

“I thought about doing something like that. But then I realized, you know what? I gotta make a living. I realized, you know what? The real world doesn’t let you sit around scribbling in a notebook.”

“I have an idea for a book. I don’t normally talk about it, but I feel like, what the hell? There must be some reason why I’m sitting next to an author in an airport bar. I still have half a beer, and here we are, and I’ve got nothing to do, so what the hell? I’ll just tell her. I’ll tell the author my idea because what the hell.”

“Are your novels fiction or nonfiction? I don’t like fiction novels. If I’m going to read, I want to learn something.”

“I’m a lawyer. Do you know what that means? That means I’m basically a professional writer.”

“Have you had any commercial success?”

“People always tell me to write my life story. They’re always like, ‘Stanley, you’ve got a book in you.’ “

“Do you have a blog? I work with this woman who has a blog.”

“No husband and no kids. So what will you have at the end of your life? You’ll just lie on your death bed surrounded by your books?”

“I’ve been thinking about writing a book. It would be horror. Like Stephen King. I’ve read all of Stephen King’s books. He’s the greatest living writer. Do you know his wife fished *Carrie* out of the garbage? If it weren’t for his wife, we wouldn’t have *Carrie*.”

“Uh-oh, I’d better watch what I say or I’ll wind up in one of your books!”

“Good for you!”

“Good for you!”

“Good for you!”

“Are you going to write something like *Fifty Shades of Grey*? You’ll be a billionaire. You’ll be picking up my bar tab. I saw the movie because my girlfriend dragged me. Women love that book.”

“My wife’s in a book club. I don’t think they read the books. I just hear them gossiping. They drink wine and shit-talk everyone they know, and that’s book club.”

“I can tell you’re probably a handful.”

“I used to be like you. I took life too seriously. Then one day I thought, *You know what, Barry? You think too much. Stop thinking so much. Stop taking life so seriously, Barry!* “

“So the book I want to write. Can you keep this confidential? I can’t have you blabbing this all over town. It’s about gold-diggers. It’s about how girls marry successful older men and then divorce them and take them for a ride. It’s about how men get blamed for all the world’s problems. Women are like, ‘Look over there at that terrible man,’ and while you’re distracted looking for the terrible man, before you know it, they’ve got your wallet. I’m speaking figuratively. But not too figuratively, I hate to tell you. I’m looking for a ghost writer. What do you think? Are you in or are you out? Can I trust you? I have to know I can trust you. Prove to me that I can trust you. You call yourself a writer, so let’s write this thing. Let’s set the record straight. Let’s tell everyone what it’s like in this world.”

* (1) is the author of the novels* Who by Fire and Skinny *and of the New York Times column* Going Off. *She is at work on her first nonfiction book.*

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