Fly on the wall

There are two old guys I would like to know have met: Stephen King and Garrison Keillor.  They are almost the same age, and are talented, funny, grounded writers.  Someone buy these two lunch! Seriously, what a broadcast that would make: have them go to lunch together, record the whole thing, and let them edit it as they please.  Sort of “Dinner with Andre” for the audio set.  Then do it again with other folks. Instead of celebrity death match entertainment (remember the claymation series?),  a series for those of us who would love to be flies on the wall when specific famous folks meet.  

 Fill in the blanks:  Madeleine Albright and ___.    Buddy Guy and ____.   The interest is generated by an overlap of some similarities, some differences, but generally two people who in meeting would generate some interesting conversation.  Steve Jobs and  ______ (Say, somebody get that guy on tape in a non-Apple environment before it’s too late).  Brad Bird and ______.   Isn’t this a project for NPR?  It would certainly generate revenue for the cash strapped radio company.  Who would you like to hear talk about life, themselves, all that rot and face the challenge of being introduced to someone new?   

I’m no celebrity, but I happened to meet a woman my age with two daughters my sons age yesterday at a local auto repair/dealership.  She came into the “crying room” as I think of it (like the sound proofed room in my childhood church, where parents with unruly or bored kids could go to the back of the church and peer out, ostensibly still participating in mass), while my son and I sat on the floor watching PBS kids on the ceiling mounted TV monitor.   When the repair clerk came in to give me the standard lies (I was only there for a state inspection, a yearly scam I have written about before) and tell me what the routine tax was this year (wiper blades and a rear light bulb I KNOW was not out), and try to manipulate me into more charges (an alternator belt, when only 5 weeks ago they went over the whole car and we dropped a bundle getting anything that needed fixing done- but the auto industry being what it is, there is a push on to make cash from claiming things need to be done that don’t, especially when they pick a mark they see as a “stupid woman”).  I was instantaneously furious, and firmly told the man I expected the usual petty “taxes”– items for getting an inspection done, but NOT egregious inflation with other items.  He asked me to come see the belt.  When I got out to the repair bays, the tech was a very young man that I told right away I resented being manipulated and I did NOT think the car needed the new belt, and if it had they should have caught it five weeks ago.  He backed off, and told me it didn’t really need it, it was just a recommended thing.  Sure, for $100 extra bucks you make your quota and I get skinned, I thought.  No thanks.  So I said do the blades and bulb.  Fine.  But do not touch that belt and if I have any problems with it in the next month, I will assume you deliberately monkeyed with it.  The belt is not part of the inspection either, I have lived here long enough to know that- so I better get the sticker on this only 30,000 miles two and a half year old van.  I did not know what to expect, but boy was I pissed.  

When I went back to the play room, the other mom whispered, “How did it go?”  I told her what I said and vented about how much I hate the bureaucracy and corruption at all levels in this state.  I also laughed.  She was sympathetic, having brought her Prius in that day for a repair and having just moved from Washington State.  We talked for a long time, and we found a wonderful set over overlapping interests.  I gave her my email and phone number as I left, thinking I wish I had recorded that conversation.  

I thought about meeting new people as I drove away.  Making new friends is always difficult, no matter what your age and I find it useful to have many friends at many degrees of intimacy.  The model I have been shown is a bulls-eye, as in playing darts.  A very few people in the center with which we have extreme intimacy, the more people and less intimacy as the circles fan out.  Since moving here, I have felt a profound loss of some good friends, and have not made many new ones.  Randomly meeting someone and feeling camaraderie is a rare and good thing.  It’s a lot like dating.  I tell this to my father, who has always been awkward about trying to meet people, especially since mom died.  Try and try again I suppose, and those wonderful conversations will happen.  I hope.  No one else may want to listen to them, but they make life better none the less.  And it sure would be nice to know those intellectually gifted celebrities go through much the same thing too.

Another one bites the dust

My heroes are passing.  Studs Terkel died this past weekend, before the election but after the world series that wasn’t (no Cubs this year even though they had the best record in the league).  I can’t even begin to do him the justice other writers have.  I only cry, and read what they have to say.  Here is a good one:http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/05/how_studs_helps_me_lead_my_lif_1.html (TrackBack URL for this entry: http://blogs.suntimes.com/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/9373)If you have never picked up one of Stud’s books, do it.  Consider it a light in the darkness.