Marketing Report: Week 11

Only one sale, a “Best Ride.” It went to a Claremont member who’d bought three books, week-by-week, earlier. He says he feels like a fan of Dickens, waiting at the port for the ship to arrive with the latest installment.

A couple nice reactions from college pals who’d finally read “Cheesesteak.” One claimed it was the first book he’d finished since Ted Williams’s biography in second grade. One college semi-pal sent me notice of his new collection of poems and since I’d already bought the last collection of poems he’d sent me notice of, I replied he might consider buying a copy of “Cheesesteak,” a notice of which I’d sent him. And the woman who’d taught at Swarthomre but didn’t know where West Philadelphia was and had begged off buying a copy because she didn;t have cash with her has been in the café twice and avoided eye contact with me.

Meanwhile, I’ve been experiencing these shifts in perception. For one, I’d been hoping that “Cheesesteak” would lead to deeper relationships with people from my past (and present). That hasn’t happened but it has helped me see some relationships more clearly. It used to be that I would spend much time in my head in discussions with friends or myself about why these dissatisfactions. Now I see, well Mr. A is excellent on a particular area, which is of interest to him, but difficult to engage about anything else (unless he initiates the discussion) and Mr. B is excellent on many subjects but will not discuss them with anyone who does not share his opinion about one of them (which I don’t). I can live with these realities.

Another thing is how comfortable I have settled into this person who writes quirkily about this ‘n’ that and sits in a café peddling his work. The lawyer-me is practically gone (though he can be recalled swiftly, like when someone makes a crack about workers’ compensation fraud). Even the recovering-heart patient me, who I want to hold onto, is fading.

And now the writer-me has to get back to boning up on Serbia. Which is a different story.


During a recent e-mail discussion in which I was a participant, while attempting to identify the source of a rumor about the plans of the new owners for the café at which the discussants hung, a finger was pointed at “that skinny guy who writes about comic books.” As keyboards turned in my direction, I pointed out that this description could not possibly refer to me since (a) I was not “that skinny guy” (confirmed by the new high-tech scale in our club’s locker room which places my BMI squarely in the lower third of “normal) but “that extremely handsome guy” (confirmed by my wife, the admiring Adele); and (b) I don’t write about comic books” but “about underground/alternative cartoonists.” (In my inner, more private, less public man-of-the-people self, I don’t write “about” them either. They are merely subjects through which I address matters of universal concern.

Still I mulled the description over.

Just suppose 74-years hard labor at crafting an identity had resulted in that. It was cooler, I supposed, than “that skinny guy who used to practice workers’ compensation law.” It was definitely preferable to “that skinny, bald, four-eyed…” (or, as my friend Cary said, to “that skinny, toothless crack-addict”). It also seemed an advance beyond the even more reductive “you skinny prick,” which I had been called by a passing drunk in 1959 (when, incidentally, I may have weighed ten-pounds more than I do now). (See: “How I Spent My Vacation.” May 24, 2009.

It may even top “that pudgy ex-mime,” who authored the slur in the first place.

Smiley face goes here.