I decided to get rid of him on a Friday night. I had gone through much trouble to arrange for mostly interesting people from the New York publishing scene to be present at what I thought was an intellectually stimulating evening and he was ruining it. One by one, editors, writers, journalists, and critics had made their presence evident, sharing interesting stories, not only related to the pieces featured on their prestigious newspapers and magazines, but also about their normal lives; trivial information that helped making the event human and laid-back.
The editor of the online version of one of the oldest magazines in the city was focusing on the most discussed articles on their website; among them, one about the financial aspects of the new co-ownership of the Mets and another one about the death of the “Godfather of rap”. A senior editor of another influential magazine devoted to music, politics, and popular culture had left work behind and was sharing a story about riding her bike on a full tummy. She was also telling us about how she had “extracted” a splinter buried into her thumb with a pair of tweezers. At the same time, the famous finance blogger at one of the biggest news agencies was in the middle of a heated argument about journalistic quality. He disagreed with someone who had said that putting pressure on reporters, by having them post, update, tweet, podcast, webcast, put together slideshows, and shoot videos about their stories simultaneously, was affecting the quality of the content they produced. For him all those things improved, rather than detract from that quality. Meanwhile, in another corner, the international magazine writer was telling people that the third production of the Men in Black franchise was being shot on her block, while the Nobel prize winning economist and op-ed columnist argued furiously that some right-wing financial writer was distorting the facts when discussing the present administration’s health policy on one of those journals with a time fixation. Suddenly, someone disrupted the atmosphere with the most annoying activity anyone can do at these gatherings. He delivered a sales pitch.
I didn’t know him that well. After all, we had become acquaintances more out of reciprocity than anything else, but he was crossing the line. For a few minutes, the conversation shifted towards all the artists he represented. It would have been okay if they had been two or three, but there were hundreds, and he was squeezing each and every one of them into his advertisement-like monologue. One after the other, he went on about gorillas, satirical rewritings of A Christmas Carol, poems that positively channel anger, slime balls, and the fact that one his writers had written only six hundred and twenty-eight words that day. In addition, he did not waste a chance to direct our attention to his self-published books and his blog.
The others had slowly become quiet and, eventually, he was the only one putting thoughts into words. He was killing the feeling; the vibe I had prepared so carefully. That’s when I decided that I had to put an end to his monopolization of the evening. It had been enough. For several minutes, I thought of what I was about to do and decided it was the only solution to the problem. Although I don’t feel proud about it—he was a nice guy after all—, I went ahead and silenced him. I singled him out, took one last look at his Twitter profile, and clicked on “Unfollow”. My home page looked much better after that.
Hugo R. Vargas