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The Yea-sayer 

I'm the kind of guy who says "yes" no matter what. It gives me work. Some guy asks if I would read his 1,200-page novel and is ready to send it as an email attachment for me to print out. Sure, I say. Five printer cartridges and two wasted hours later, I start the thing and I can't get through page one. It's written by an illiterate who thinks he's James Joyce. I leaf through it anyway, and I gather that it's about some guy who hates everybody, especially people who, unlike him, actually published something. Two days later, I get an email from the guy asking impatiently if I'd read his novel and what I thought about it. I don't answer, but I already know how he feels. Betrayed. Outraged. Hates me. Three hours after I don't answer, I get another email: "I should've known that a moron like you who can't read would try to undermine my genius." Sure, buddy, that was the plan.

Minutes later, someone calls to say he's come all the way from Berlin and he'd like to buy me a drink because he's read all my books. I'm only in town about five hours a week and I've scheduled 500 meetings, but I say, "Sure, why not?" Why not is because the guy turns out to be a whole group of slobs who've made a list from the Internet of people who might entertain them in New Orleans. None of them has read anything I ever wrote. I don't even drink beer, and when I order Jim Beam, the head slob says with a Bavarian accent, "Not a cheap date, eh?" Am I gonna throw a punch at a guy who looks like he skins cows for sausages? Not a chance.

I get out of there and hurry home, but on the way I meet two women I know, dressed in capes, going to some soiree. "You just have to come along," they insist. Well, the only thing I have to do is finish an essay, be on a conference call, rewrite a script, call overseas to see if this friend of mine is still alive after an accident involving an ox-cart, but I say, "Wow, that sounds really great." For the next four hours I'm at this incredibly boring party far from home and have no way back because the ladies drove me here.

I leave anyway, and it's midnight now. A homeless person asks me if I have any cash and I say yes, of course, and I hand him $10. He's so grateful, he hands me a paper bag with a pint sticking out of it and asks if I'd try it. By now, who cares? I take a slug or two and then me and my pal head for my part of town arm in arm and singing and we cross against the light at Canal Street and there is a cop waiting for us on the other side. "How'd you like to go to jail?" he says. I'm about to agree when my pal, wiser by far, says, "I don't think so, officer, no." That was like a revelation, pure enlightenment. Never again. What's that? Write a 50-page article for $8? I don't think so, officer, no.

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