Sighting Number Two (Kind Of)

I left AWP on Saturday morning. When I got in line for a cab outside the Marriott, the guy running the show out there asked me where I was headed, and I said the airport. There was a man in front of me also going to the airport, and we decided we'd share a cab.

I'd learned over the past two days that downtown Atlanta is some kind of convention center mecca. There were conferences for GE, ReMax, and who-knows-what-else going on at the same time as AWP. So, the guy next to me in the cab could have been attending any number of conferences. He was wearing jeans, though, and stylish shoes, and he had long hair. So, since most of the GE and ReMax guys wore Dockers and not-so-stylish shoes and kept their hair cut short, I assumed the guy beside me had been at AWP.

We didn't speak for the first ten minutes or so, but eventually I asked him what he'd been in town for. He said he was there for AWP, only he actually said what the acronym stands for. I told him I had attended the same thing. Then he said he was the editor of [Insert Fancy Literary Magazine Here]. I said, "Wow. That's a great magazine." I identified myself as a teacher and as someone who writes fiction, but neither of us said our names, and he, in fact, seemed quite adamant about not doing so. Despite a venti iced Americano, I was still a little under-caffeinated, and my brain wasn't quite working the way it should have been. So, when he said he was the editor of [Fancy Literary Magazine, One That's Available Even Around Here At Places Like Border's] I assumed he was an editor, and not a writer. Not that there's any kind of hierarchy or anything--I love editors, I do--but my brain wasn't functioning, and over the course of our conversation, I'm pretty sure I sounded 1) dull-witted and 2) a little condescending.

When we arrived at the airport, I gave him my half of the fare, and we wished one another a safe trip and all that. Then, after I checked-in, I called J.C. to let her know I was on my way home. Once we were finished talking, I asked her to google [Fancy Literary Magazine] to see who the editor was. She gave me a name, and I knew right away that's who I'd been sharing the cab with. I have, in fact, two of his books on my shelf.

At first, I was kind of embarrassed at being so dull-witted and maybe even condescending in front of a pretty great writer, but eventually, of course, I realized the encounter meant even less to him than it had to me. In the end, too, I kind of liked the anonymity of it all. It made me wonder what AWP would be like if all interactions took place in just that same manner: without name tags, as if you were stuck in the back of a cab with the other person.

Then again, maybe that's about half-right.

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