I just got back from a trip to Manhattan where I attended a writing conference for work. There were oodles of editors from Penguin and I even had the opportunity to spend 90 minutes in a mentoring session with a literary agent. Not everyone gets a chance like this and I spent the the days preceding the conference in diligent preparation.
I wrote a query letter and printed out sample chapters of my novel. I made sure that my business cards were packed, my clothes were professional, but not stodgy, and I practiced my elevator pitch until the moment I arrived at the opening reception. Which is also when I realized that I had packed the wrong Spanx.
If there is one thing that you don’t want publishing greats to know about you, it’s that you have visible panty lines and a bloated belly filled with a nerve-calming Corona and lunch; consisting of salt and vinegar chips from the hotel bar.
But, my array of good impressions didn’t stop there. In my middle-age, I have developed lovely dots of mustache sweat when I get nervous. If you see me wiping my upper lip for the first five minutes of our conversation, this is why.
Ah, but those things? They were nothing compared to my dinner with the former editor-in-chief of Redbook Magazine, Stacy Morrison (now a co-worker at BlogHer), and a couple of power-bloggers from NYC. I looked for pictures of Stacy online, but I couldn’t decide between the one of her with Cindy Crawford or the one with Harry Connick Jr.
That’s right, I was like the Ohio Tweedledum at a Times Square sushi restaurant with three, sophisticated New Yorkers.
Do you know that they don’t even give you forks at authentic, NYC sushi restaurants? I had to be taught how to use chopsticks by Stacy. So, understandably, when I got a nice big chunk of avocado between my sticks I was quite proud of my accomplishment. I quickly took the bite and puffed up my chest.
Only, I couldn’t puff up my chest. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t breathe at all. Because I hadn’t eaten a big bite of avocado, I had eaten a big bite of wasabi.
After the taste hit my tongue and my eyes started to water, I felt my nose hairs spontaneously combust. If you inhaled fire through your nostrils, the sensation would be a lot like eating a half-dollar-sized chunk of wasabi. I could actually feel the fumes entering my sinuses and if I hadn’t been sitting on the inside of the booth I would have made a run for the nearest tub of ice and buried my head. The good news is that the cold I was getting was obliterated within seconds.
My face turned red and I couldn’t talk. I thought, for a moment, that the description of “Spicy Titanic Roll” on the menu had been, grossly, under-exaggerated. New York menu designers are crazy, yo! It turned out, however, that “spicy” and “condiment” mean exactly the same things in New York as they do in Ohio.
And, you know what? So does moron.