Paul’s modern dance teacher Ruth Currier with Jose Limon
SOMETHING TO WRITE ABOUT
DAVID ARTHUR WALTERS
Two weeks ago, Paul Bowman, the greatest aspiring author the world will ever or never know, had mailed his dance reviews to Senior, the wealthy Pittsburg industrialist who said he would sponsor Paul if he liked his work. Senior had told Paul to meet him two weeks hence back at the Peculiar Pub in Greenwich Village where Senior regularly held court with his son Junior and a motley court of drunkards. So Paul entered the pub with a fluttering heart to receive Senior’s verdict.
Sure enough, there sat Senior, and, as luck would have it, there was an empty stool next to him, upon which Paul sat down. Senior noticed him immediately, turning to greet him with beer stein in hand.
“That stuff you sent isn’t worth a shit! It’s nothing but shit!” Senior exclaimed to a stunned Paul. “I’m being honest, pal, it’s nothing but shit! Tell me, who would produce or publish such shit?”
Paul wiped the flecks of Senior’s spittle from his face, and replied, “I intended to write a few dance reviews….”
“But who would produce such shit? I don’t understand! You’re trying to be a critic….”
“I’m no critic,” Paul interjected, visibly affronted by the term. “I just wrote a series of articles about dance, my favorite subject, not as a professional expert, but from the broader perspective of an innocent member of the audience who….”
“That’s what I mean, you’re trying to be a critic. Darlene (he called to the bartender), set us up with tequila shots here and you have one yourself, sweetie. So you’re trying to be a critic….”
“Look here, sir, I am not a critic!” Paul was getting hot under the collar. “I hate critics!”
“Relax, pal, and have a drink,” Senior commanded, then tossed down a shot of tequila. “You sound like a critic. I read the first five articles you wrote about dancing, and I wondered what you were doing wasting your time writing about a bunch of peons and pansies. I’m just your average Joe, and I could care less about going to see people prancing around in pink tights, let alone read what some nitwit thought about them. Take a look around the bar here, and you tell me, who gives a shit about what you think about dancing?”
“I know the market is narrow,” answered Paul with a sunken heart. “But, but I believe I could expand it. I mean, well, you know there are lots of people who read about dance, so I….”
“Hold on there,” Senior interrupted, glaring at Paul. “Did you send that shit anywhere else?”
“Yes, I sent each review to the papers and the magazines.”
“Did you get a reply? Well, did you?” Senior challenged.
“No. But one editor wrote on the rejection slip that I….”
“There ‘ya go! Forget that! How much would you make on a best seller?”
“I don’t know, maybe fifty-thousand.”
“You stupid idiot! Try a half-million bucks for size!”
“So, why are you screwing yourself short with that shit? Nobody wants to read about that sissy stuff. You’ve got to write about the right stuff to make it big. Hey, Junior (he called down the bar to his son) isn’t this guy’s writings shit?” Junior nodded his assent compliantly.
“As I said, I wanted to write about something…”
“Something? Something? What do you want for your work, ten bucks?”
“Well, no,” Paul answered wanly.
“Well, that’s what it looks like!” Senior concluded and turned to talk to his son, thus leaving Paul, the greatest aspiring writer the world will ever or never know, to his reflections and a full shot of tequila.