Reprise: The Great Impostor (2010)

Preserved from an old blog.

To the Algonquin for a lunch in the Round Table Room today. A dinky little place, the Algonquin, full of dinky undistinguished-looking people, but that is part of its appeal. My event today was a literary MeetUp group that a rotund little lady put together in impromptu fashion, mainly by contacting her Twitter pals. I’m not sure how I got on her list. Anyway, there were 60 or 70 of us, mostly women, mostly Caucasian, mostly middle-aged. Arriving just before luncheon was served, I got put at one of the outlier tables, boasting several younger-than-average people and two women of color, one of them in a wheelchair.

For the main course we could choose between mustard salmon en croûte and chicken paillard. Most people had the salmon. It wasn’t that great.

This is what it’s like when you get old, I guess, I remarked to the young publishing bunny on my left. Lunch with lots of women and hardly any men.

That’s the publishing world, she cheerfully replied. Mostly women. (Is this because it doesn’t pay for shit, or because it’s so femmed up that any male in publishing feels he should be a fag?)

One of the published authors at the table was a lady diesel engineer who has piloted both a tugboat and riverboat. She definitely had the most interesting story to tell, though like a tugboat her tale was modest in size and kept close to home. The one male at the table kept urging her to read a really ripping book he’d picked up recently. Life on the Mississippi, by Mr. Mark Twain. Tugboat Annie made a note.

Me. I explained I did a little copyediting for Penguin Putnam, but that paid little under the best of circumstances, so mostly I worked in ad agencies as a Flash developer. Amazingly, most of my companions seemed to know what that was. So I warmed to the theme: I am the world’s worst Flash developer! Yes, ladies and gent. I get jobs and then lose them when my employers discover my incompetence. This usually takes a few weeks. Fortunately there are many many ad agencies doing pharma Flash development, and they can’t afford to be too picky.

The colored woman in the wheelchair and the PR bunny were wide-eyed at my brazenness. How do you get away with it? Don’t they test you or anything when you start?

Test! Who has time to test? Ha ha! You know, this is a pretty good idea for a book!

And they all agreed that yes indeed it was.