my famous friends

I have some friends who are as famous as I am. John Nichols is one of them. If you don’t know who he is, you’re an asshole. Go buy one of his books so I can impress you with my friends. Buy it from Amazon.com. That’s where I work now. They are good folks and they will get you a copy of any of his books quickly and with a virtual smile.

I really really wanted to be a writer. Now this is funny because I know writers. I know a couple of writers who have each had about 15 books published. And you know what? They’re poor. They’re dirt poor. I don’t know what I was thinking when I quit studying to be a doctor like my grandfather and my old man.

Sometimes when I say, “John Nichols is my friend,” to impress someone they say, “Who’s that?” because they don’t know how to read. I remind them of his book that got made into a movie and they know him then and can envy me. But at University I had people come up to me all the damn time and say, “I’m studying your grandfather in my Medical History class,” or, “I’m studying your greatgrandfather in my History of New Mexico class.” They weren’t even writers. They also both had plenty money. I sure don’t.

Señor Nichols is ingratiating and wonderful. He’s got, I don’t even know, all his books and a movie and other stuff. I don’t have none of that but he’s still friendly to me. He can say things like, “I’m crazy,” in many more languages than I can. He is an excellent fly fisherman. In the final analysis I am a failure as a writer because I cannot fish. All good writers fish. Don’t ignore that if you’re in a Creative Writing program in Montana. Get out and do what you gotta do. You don’t want to look like a mossback if a real writer starts to like you.

Once John (Mr. Nichols, still, to you) came up to me at the sole espresso cart in our small mountain town and he told me that I was more famous at that moment than he would ever be. He said it sweeping his arms and loudly so that all the tourists there would hear and say, “Who are they?” and be told that he was John Nichols and we were both famous writers in a small mountain town.

I was just having some coffee outside damnit. What the hell was he trying to do to me?

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