If you want to cut to the chase, I have a Bio on another page, a précis of The Mechanic of San Martín, my first novel in print, a preview of things to come (more novels) and A Blog, a veritable blog, that is, a diary of the writing of Abrupt Edge, a work in progress.  Tab over to these, check them out, comment if you please.


hen I was a wee tot, relatively speaking, I hung out in San Francisco with a guy named Ted.  Actually, I worked for Ted, but he possessed, among other social graces, the ability to be boss by day and drinking buddy by night—call it democracy or a secure ego or the fact that we toiled in a tight-knit little organization where collegial worked better than bossy.

Often, after a hard day’s work, Ted and I would crawl the pubs in the Financial District, looking for cheap booze and good hors d’ouvres, which were the features of what were then called body exchange bars.  The hot places changed faster than the seasons (one of them, in fact, was The Seasons, along with Harpoon Louie’s, The Sails and . . . that’s all I remember just now), but I didn’t care, I really was after cheap booze and good hors d’ouvres, being married at the time but four hundred miles away from home and not looking for the other attraction of such places, women who worked in San Francisco and hoped, downing a drink or two after work, to come up with a date or two, a little romance, even a Long Term Relationship.  It happened sometimes.

It happened for Ted.  I would never say that Ted was exploitative or the kind who objectified women, but Ted was in a phase of his life in which quantity mattered, and he was very good at making the acquaintance of young ladies between twenty-something and thirty-something.  He was large—you had to resist calling him Teddy, because the twenty-somethings, if you talked to them about Ted, sooner or later compared him to a “big, huggable, teddy bear.”  No fooling.  He was genial, had a disarming smile, and ‘lines’ is not a word adequate to describe his techniques.

Just one, por ejemplo.  He would go up to the hors d’ouvres table when a particularly attractive woman was helping herself to the daily fare, and say something totally outlandish, like, “You should be here when they serve the braised squirrel tails, they’re simply excellent.”  The woman would give him a ‘who’s the weirdo’ look, whereupon he’d smile and say, “I’m Ted L_____, and you are . . . ?”  Nine times out of ten he’d get a handshake and “I’m Cindy Johnson.”  Then he’d smile some more, take his plate of hot chicken wings or French fried zucchini spears over to where we were hanging out, and extract from his wallet a tiny square of paper and scribble on it—what I never inquired.

The next time he saw that particular woman he’d go up to her and say, in a ‘long-lost-friend’ tone, “Hi, Cindy, how’s it going?” and she of course thought he looked familiar but hadn’t a name to go with the face.  He’d say, “I’m Ted; remember, we met last week at The Sails.”  And she, relieved to have avoided a minor gaffe, would say the appropriate thing and then he’d buy her a drink and they’d begin a conversation that usually covered what you did at work and where you hailed were from before San Francisco, and ended with a time and place to meet for dinner or such.

Even if I weren’t married, that technique of self-promotion wouldn’t have worked for me.  I asked Ted the obvious question, it being his ultimate intent to end many evenings in a horizontal relationship:  how often do you achieve the goal?  I don’t remember the exact proportion, but it wasn’t anything close to fifty percent, and then I asked the really essential question, “How can you stand to be rejected so often?”

Ted, philosophical as well as collegial and congenial, give me the answer that is the point of this anecdote:

“Your chances of being accepted are really poor if you can’t take rejection.”

Now my intent is not to get you, reader, in even a virtual horizontal relationship.  Rather, I want you to read my writing and be entertained, amused, edified, or moved—or all of the above.  And this is my line, which, were there enough cheap liquor and good hors d’ouvres to go around, I’d rather do in Harpoon Louie’s than Chez Brownfield, but here we are.

Say, was it The Sails we met at the other night, or Cosmo’s?