My late mate Joe (née Plutarch) handled social embarrassment better than I did and yesterday's post, A Little Tit-For-Tat, tried to explore this. It failed and I deleted it. This should be an improvement.
Forty-plus years ago I attended an odd press conference. Joe, sponsored by a forklift company, had written a booklet about forklifts and was conducting the launch. Since Joe was my editor boss I was merely a passive spectator. Another journalist asked the obvious question touching on Joe's impartiality as author. I winced sympathetically and was relieved when Joe responded well.
Thirty years later, as an editor myself, I spoke at a press conference to launch my magazine's logistics exhibition. In the audience were journalists from magazines competing with mine. The issue was: did industry need this new exhibition? I'd prepared myself and came out on top.
Both occasions had the potential for a special type of embarrassment. I suspect Joe avoided his problem as I avoided mine: through preparation.
But Joe could also avoid wider embarrassment, typically when approached by a street loonie. He embraced the event. Asking questions he defused the awkwardness. Whereas I tended to walk away furtively. Real mates usually have skills one lacks; this was one of Joe's.
FRENCH BIGGIE As hinted I've started re-reading A La Recherche... It fits me like an old shoe. Recommending Proust is far too dangerous but how about an extract now and then?
… awake again for short snatches only, just long enough to hear the regular creaking of the wainscot, or to open my eyes to settle the shifting kaleidoscope of the darkness, to savour, in an instantaneous flash of perception, the sleep which lay heavy upon the furniture, the room, the whole surroundings of which I formed an insignificant part…