Every Day They Write the Book

'Why six words. Why not five?' Elvis wondered.

"That guy looks familiar," I said to Mike.

"It's Elvis Costello," deadpanned Mike, clearly more versed in the ways of celebrity sightings. I've lived in New York for a decade, but when it comes to spotting stars, I'm the worst. I never recognize anyone. Not Susan Sarandon, just steps in front of me on Fifth Avenue, when my friend pointed her out. Not Michael Stipe, right over there in the corner at the art opening. Not Julia Roberts, passing me on a quiet West Village street, prompting my then-girlfriend to say with much too much enjoyment: "You know, for a guy so obsessed with Julia Roberts, it's funny that you didn't seem to notice her walking right past you." Bummer.

Since that was Elvis, the sparkling blonde across the table from him must be Diana Krall. I've bled for Elvis (let's just say we both survived the 20th-anniversary disaster that was Woodstock '99), but Diana may be even more special to me. I once played her song "Let's Fall in Love" no fewer than 30 times in a row for a story comparing sound quality of LPs/CDs/MP3s. Never got sick of it.

My problem at this moment: I needed their six-word memoirs. I collect six-word memoirs from famous and unfamous people, and Elvis and Diana are my kind of famous people. So after fidgeting and strategizing as to how to 1) explain the six-word situation and 2) not ruin their dinner, I saw my chance and went for it. Elvis had hit the head, Diana seemed to be toying with the last of the dessert, and I beelined for their table.

I apologetically gave her my pitch (“I'm a New Yorker and never bother celebrities, but..."), and Ms. Krall took it in with grace and said the six words I was hoping to hear: "Well, you'll have to tell Elvis." Moments later, he returned and I explained myself anew. "Why six words—why not five?" Elvis wondered. And so, encouraged, I told him about Hemingway and the six-word short-story challenge, how SMITH Mag had made a six-word memoir book, had just agreed to do another one on love, and, well, would you and Diana contribute your six words? With that, Diana put her hand on mine and told me it all sounded wonderful. I left them the book, and my card. This went well, time to go.

Feeling at once gleeful that security didn't kick me out and bad that I had busted in on their night, I sent over cognac. But what was this? Elvis and Diana were making their way over to our table. "It was very kind of you, but I don't drink," explained Elvis. I wondered if I should have known this. "But they're too good to waste, so we wanted to bring them over. It was really very kind."

With that, the man who writes the book of love every day, took his wife's hand and left the building. I looked at them longingly.


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