It’s been three years, but I remember the encounter as if it were yesterday. My retirement party was a low-key affair, at my insistence, attended by a handful of close colleagues and friends, a couple of clients, and my wife, Meda. If it had been up to me, I would have skipped the occasion altogether, but Meda is quite a stickler about certain things . . . case in point . . . one needing to attend one’s own retirement party.
There was food . . . I think . . . a cheese tray, sandwiches, crackers, maybe chips. There was definitely beer, wine, and liquor.
I was off in the corner talking to a close associate whom I had known for over thirty years.
“So, Bill, what do you plan on doing to keep yourself busy now that you’re retired.”
It was a fair question, one that I’d been asked a number of times, and one that I was prepared to answer. Only this time my reply would contain a wrinkle the truth.
“Well, Vicky, You know I like to exercise, so I plan on doing a lot of that. We love to travel, and we have a long list of places we want to visit, and (here comes the bomb) I’m going to write a novel.”
I’d never seen a plate of food do a mid-air one-eighty and land so perfectly upside down on the floor. Vicky looked at her full glass of wine and then over to the bar area before realizing the “I need a refill” excuse wasn’t going to work. She grimaced and took two steps backward. She could see from my expression that I was waiting for her feedback. She was in hell without a fan or a fire extinguisher. She was trapped.
“But, Bill, you’re an engineer, not a writer. I mean, you’re real good at math and science, but (Vicky was clearly regaining her composure) to be totally honest, you can’t write worth a damn. I’m not trying to be critical, but some of your e-mails, I mean, I have no idea what you’re trying to say. But, Bill, (Vicky’s bluntness had embarrassed her) I do look forward to reading your book. Please let me know the minute it’s published.”
With that said, and after two chugs, Vicky’s wine glass was indeed empty. She gave me a closed mouth smile, turned, and headed toward the bar, all the while shaking her head and muttering something under her breath.
As I watched her walk away, I couldn’t help but smile myself, a big smile, maybe even a little giggle. Vicky was right and I knew it, but my answer was still the same. “I’m going to write a novel.”