Since Wednesday, I have been at a conference in Richmond, Virginia, and I have found that I can be very charming. In-drawn and shy by nature, I get to practice safe extraversion at these kinds of events, and, when this exhausts me, as it inevitably does, I can sneak back to my room and hole up.
Yesterday, I had the bus driver all to myself for a ten-block ride, and we were the best of friends by the time I got off. I learned about his hapless son, and he learned that I could be a sympathetic listener. Once at the Convention Center, I chatted up two gentlemen from Ohio, and, when I saw them again this morning on the bus, I shouted “hi, you two” as I walked down the aisle. If you knew me, you would laugh at the thought of this easy-breezy familiarity.
Then, at dinner last night, I withdrew behind my sunglasses and prepared for a solitary meal, which it was but for the young waiter who, when he handed me the menu, commented that I must be a movie star. This drew a delighted giggle, and I said something to him about trying to hide from my adoring fans. It was a more genuine kind of openness, mine, one where I had been so startled by such a sweet exchange that I didn’t have time to assume a pose.
When he gave me the check, I saw there was a separate slip of paper with only an X and a _________________________ on it. I signed my first name, wrote “Have a wonderful life!,” and said, “Please don’t tell anyone else I’m here” when I handed him my autograph.