So seven years ago to the day, give or take, it's my muse and keeper, the pithy and enigmatic Mrs. H. on the phone.
"Go buy the New York Times," she says. "You're in it."
Before I can say that's pretty vindictive of the IRS to go all public with our little tiff she says "Style section, front page," and hangs up.
Hoping that she'll save me a nice seat in the dementia ward I do what she says. And here's the article on the front page of the style section. Artists in unheated workspaces. Which does not mention me. At first. But I flip to the carryover page and there I am.
A couple of weeks before I'd been in Pittsburgh for a reading from the newly released The Rage of Achilles at a venue called Cyberpunk Apocalypse. It was in a row house in the as-yet-unhipsterfied Lawrenceville. It was early December and a little below freezing outside. Because the venue's sole source of heat was a woodstove, and someone had forgotten the wood, it was a little above freezing inside.
A bunch of local writers went before me. Each introduced himself with something like, "I'm Joe Doaks, a teacher from Moon Township." So when my turn came I said, "I'm Terry Hawkins, a small gray-haired man in a tweed jacket, and if I'm shaking because I'm cold."
I can prove this. Here's the video.
But here's what the New York Times said:
“We had an author named Terence Hawkins do a reading last month,” Mr. McCloskey recalled. “I tried to get the wood stove going, but he was just sitting there shivering. I think his opening lines were: ‘Hello, I am Terence Hawkins. I am the elderly man in a tweed jacket, and if I am shivering it is only because I am cold.’
For a moment I was stunned. Elderly. In black and white. In the New York Times.
But it was the Times. "Oh hell," I said. "I'll take it."