I accompanied one of my authors, Zoe Heller, to her reading at Burberry on 57th Street. I sometimes don't go to my authors' events, but this one was so goofily arranged that I elected to go to make sure Zoe wasn't harangued into getting a plaid tattoo or something like that. We sat together in Burberry's "green room," and a parade of beautiful, waifish, bubbly young women and men came in and out (one by one) asking us if we needed water, champagne, magazines, to go to the bathroom, a special pen, etc. I confided in Zoe that, last year, I had handed my business card to an ugly fellow who works at Burberry, with the internal logic that an ugly fellow was my lot in life now that I'm old. That this ugly fellow, my last resort, would now, in some final, horrible irony, be my true love - teaching me a difficult but necessary lesson about the nature of love itself. Needless to say, the ugly fellow didn't call me, and, as I walked into Burberry for the event and saw him standing there, I burned with the shame of it. Burned!
Zoe is an amazing writer - I think of her in the same category as a Lynn Freed or a Mary Gaitskill. Her writing is clean and harsh at the same time, and laugh-out-loud funny. In the green room, she peeped inside the closet and found boxes of "Burberry Brit" cologne, which she cagily suggested that I abscond with. (I didn't). After the reading, she was trying to get Burberry to give me a clothing discount, as well. I was as charmed by Zoe as can be - she even shared her limo home with me. We talked about the gays, about Christmas, and about her boyfriend, who sounds cool. The night made me think of countless other wintertime nights of author readings, sudden bonding, and fresh evidence of old rejections - and, as Zoe's limo pulled off, I ran across the street to meet up with Chris, and I felt so much fondness for Chrismastime that I practically burst with the wonder of being alive. Merry Christmas to everyone! Except for the ugly fellow from Burberry. May you, sir, have as preposterous a Christmas as has ever occurred.