As I held her business card in my shaking hands, I frantically thought back over everything I’d said to Jennie since the moment I met her, some twenty minutes before.
Had I said something stupid?
Something offensive? Something that would cause this successful literary agent from New York City to reconsider her kind offer to read my first novel?
I’ve always been a funny guy. When I was a kid, I used funny to diffuse tense situations, by which I mean the ticking time bomb that was my family. Eventually, funny become my go-to for most situations: to protect myself from hurt, to inflict hurt, to put people at ease, to make people uncomfortable.
That last was what I was looking for as I mentally reviewed the whole of Jennie’s and my conversation.
Had I said something to put her off me? Because funny is in my bones. It’s a fourth blood cell, forever circulating, and sometimes it expresses itself without warning.
I used to be a newspaper reporter, and once during the four o’clock staff meeting I came this close to saying “tits and ass” when the editor in chief asked what the front-page photo needed more of.
Fortunately, the primitive part of my brain that only cares about self-preservation slammed my mouth shut, while another, presumably higher functioning part turned my face bright red.
I don’t have Tourette’s. There’s just something about me that periodically wants to scorch the earth.
Anyway, that’s what I was looking for as I reviewed our conversation: earth scorching
I didn’t find any, thankfully, and as I fumbled Jennie’s business card into a pocket, I stammered my thanks and told her I would send along the manuscript to Walking Distance asap.
Which two nights later, I did.
My wife Amy and our two kids, Max and Mara, walked with me to the post office. We huddled around the mail box and, for luck, we each placed a hand on the package containing my manuscript.
Please love this, Jennie, I thought. Please be my agent. Please sell this to a publisher for a lot of money. Please give me and my family the future I’m dreaming of.
We lifted our hands from the manuscript, and it slipped into the darkness of the mail box.
Five excruciating months went by before Jennie got back to me.
She did not love it.
To be continued . . .