Q. I see where Tom Wolfe sold his papers to the New York Public Library. I have a stack of old papers for lining the bottom of the bird cage. I haven’t needed them since my parrot ran off with the dog. How much do you think I could get for them?
A. Tom Wolfe’s personal papers are not the same as your old newspapers. While they have some things in common—both started out as innocent trees and ended up defiled by parrots and/or librarians—Mr. Wolfe’s papers contain no ads for snow tires. That’s a major rule.
Q. See, my dog Bob brought the paper in from the driveway every morning. The parrot trained him. Every day I’d hear the same thing. “Awk. Get the paper Bob. Awk.”
A. Personal papers include intimate letters to friends and lovers, book outlines, manuscripts, amusing death threats, even cocktail napkins with entire novels scribbled on them. In Tom Wolfe’s case, it sometimes took two napkins, a large tablecloth and a lobster bib. Like the one at The Last Supper (the tablecloth, not the lobster bib.)
Q. The thing is, the parrot liked to read the sports section. Everyday it was the same thing “Awk. Cubs lose again. Awk.” By the way I have a bunch of letters from my parrot’s lawyer…
A. Those would be your parrot’s personal papers. But it doesn’t matter unless you’re famous or a New York Times bestselling author or an undiscovered genius who got discovered and talked about his papers to Letterman.
Q. That’s exactly what I did. Only, it was Conan.
A. You’re saying you’re an undiscovered genius?
Q. No, I’ve been discovered for some time now. That’s how I met Conan.
A. He discovered you?
Q. Hiding in his dressing room, yes. But my discovery as a genius was a selfie. One day I was looking within, trying to find out who I was and if I was wearing underpants—I mean, in the existential sense. I already knew who I was in the epistemological sense because I have a driver’s license with my picture and it looks a lot like me with or without undies.
A. So, during this self-discovery process you discovered you were a genius?
Q. Crazy, huh? One more question. Lets say I’m in the mafia and somebody delivers a package and it’s a dead fish wrapped in a newspaper.
A. Like the scene from The Godfather, when Clemenza says “Luca Brazzi sleeps with the fishes?”
Q. Badda boom, badda bing. Anyway, let’s say I retired from the mafia and need some fast cash. See, the parrot ditched Bob in Buffalo and he got picked up by the dog catcher and my mafia Visa card with Marlon Brando’s face on it is maxed out.
A. Let me get this straight. You’re just another broke and failed parrot-slash-dog owner in the mafia who discovers he’s a genius and then Conan invites you on his TV show after he finds you hiding in his dressing room.
Q. Pretty much. Except for inviting me on his show. And being on TV.
A. Have you considered going back to your home planet?
Q. Look, I’ve still got that newspaper the fish was wrapped in. Would the New York Public Library buy that?
A. What happened to the fish?
Q. Let’s say I ate the fish but kept the paper.
A. You ate a raw fish?
Q. You never heard of Italian sushi? A New Jersey roll?
A. Look, the New York Public Library is not interested in that kind of paper.
Q. Let’s say I still had the fish.
A. On ice?
Q. Um, not the cold kind.
A. Awk! Get the net. Get the Net. Awk!
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2014, all rights reserved.