A few months ago, I started working on my grand scheme to self-syndicate a column. It’s been something that had been in my head for longer than I care to admit, and before I knew what it was I would write about, or what the style would be.
I wrote many sample columns, I threw out many ideas, and finally I had hit on the style that felt “right.” Sure, it needs work to continue to improve and polish it, but, I could *hear* the right notes, and the false ones, for the most part, at least. It’s a work in progress.
I sent my first dozen or so to a few friends, and then, asked them to pick their favorites, the best of the best, the ones that I would use as my samples, the ones for the query packet.
One of the top vote-getters was the one about the “Cafe Du Monde.” I wrote it over my lunch hour one day, it was one of those that came pretty easily.
In the story, I have a conversation with a co-worker about the famous restaurant. The co-worker was, in reality, a kindly gentleman, who’d been working at our workplace for many years, long before I did. His name was Buz Newman.
I sent my first batch of query letters out on Sunday. On Tuesday, I learned that Buz had died.
When I wrote the piece about the Cafe Du Monde, I thought about Buz. I think about him every time I see a Cafe Du Monde mug. I’ve not even seen or talked to the man in more than 5 years, but, he was the kind of person that sticks with you.
He was a man of subtle wit, and was a well-rounded sort of person who had good taste, and knew many things about a variety of topics. He was a person who didn’t ramble, nor did he say much at all, but, when he did, he conveyed a good deal with just a few words and a meaningful expression. He listened well, and when he was met with a puzzle, he would doggedly pursue the answer until he had it. He would work for hours, ’round the clock, to get things back in working order, and not complain a bit, nor show any outward sign that he’d been at this for days straight with no rest.
I had not really thought this much about him, or remembered all these things about him until I saw his picture, and the obituary, and shared stories with others who’d known him. I wondered if there was some cosmic timing about the column going out to the wider world, and me learning that he was no longer in it.
I am now also wondering if he is mad that I turned him into a chatty woman in the story. The reality is that he’d said nothing more than “But of course,” when I’d asked him about the beignets, and he smiled broadly, and with that twinkle in his eyes, I knew he was pleased.
I am glad to have known this gentle, wonderful human being. I hope he’s still smiling, and will forgive my touch of “poetic license.”
Anyway, rest in peace, my friend.