Wednesday, February 8, 1984
Mrs. Goldstein was a golden client. She had the pride of "discovering" me and she bragged to all her friends. Her big new house in Sharon Heights was built by a crook, and I was the savior. With her and her friends I was fully employed for a while.
One day - this day, February 8, 1984 - she asks me how I got started. It's the basic Jewish mother question: "What's a smart young man like you doing in a line of work like this?" She's a kind, friendly woman. So I end up telling her my whole life story, how with three novels published I still need to support myself doing construction jobs and that, most of the time, I love this work.
She asks, "Where can I buy your books?"
"They're out of print," I say.
"Don't you have any? Could I buy one from you?"
"The problem is, whenever one of my clients reads one of my books, they never hire me again."
"They think the stories are true. I write in the first person, and they believe that the main character is me. And they would not allow that character to work in their house."
"Then you must be a very good writer if you make them believe that. Don't worry. I used to teach English. I know what fiction is."
There's no stopping Mrs. Goldstein. Reluctantly, I give her a copy of Famous Potatoes.
She never calls me again.