I am blessed to be in Missouri. Literally. On the flight to St. Louis, the stewardess told me to have a blessed night. And today, when I had lunch in Cape Girardeau at the Everything Is Fried Buffet (okay, that wasn't the name of the place, but it should have been), the waitress told me to have a blessed day. What they really should have at the buffet is a priest on hand to perform last rites. I was the thinnest person in the place by fifty pounds, and I'm not exactly scrawny. Everything they serve is fried, breaded, or noodled. It's no wonder that every patron except me prayed before they ate.

Cape Girardeau is Rush Limbaugh's home town, which explains a lot about Rush. There's a mural of him on the levee downtown and I've got a picture of myself in front of it.  I skipped the tour to his birthplace and the soda fountain where he hung out as a kid and the alley where he was beaten up every day after school.

I'm here for the 94th Annual Missouri Writer's Guild Conference. Yesterday and today Kate Angelella, an editor at Simon & Schuster, and I critiqued manuscripts that were read to us. I kid you not. Two pages were read to us and we had to offer a critique in front of the audience. That's not really fair to the writer or to us, but we all played along anyway. Kate and I were very candid and it's a credit to Missouri writers that neither one of us was beaten up in the parking lot afterwards, though one guy did follow me into the mens room and, while I was peeing, asked me for more advice on his story.

"This isn't a good time," I said, standing at the urinal.

"Why not?"

"Because I am peeing,"

He looked over the divider at me peeing. "How many Diet Pepsis did you have today?"

I wasn't the only one who got hit up in the bathroom for editorial guidance. One of the women authors was sitting in a stall when a lady in the next one slid a manuscript under the divider for her to read.

My keynote address went all right — I only made one reference to bowel movements and three to gang rape, or so I am told. Afterwards, I was asked to assist with the awards ceremony and to hug the winners (most of whom were women). I am not exaggerating when I say that there were at least fifty awards given…a good many of them to the same woman. By the end of the night, I felt like I'd committed adultery.

Tomorrow I do a three hour TV writing seminar and then I head back to L.A…


7 thoughts on “Blessed”

  1. Two “blesseds” on one trip – wow, that’s good! And all those hugs! Soon, they’ll change Missouri’s name to the “touchy-feely” state!
    (As for saying “bless you” to others, when I get on a bus here in Guelph, which has a really good transit system as it’s a university town, I almost always say to myself:
    “God bless the bus, God bless the bus driver, God bless the people on the bus, God bless the Guelph Public Transit Authority.”
    It’s a little thing that takes 20 seconds or less but it sends out good vibes and helps keep me in good state of mind.)

  2. If that had happened in the Minneapolis Airport, someone would be in trouble.
    I once spoke and taught at the Ozarks Writers League deep in the Ozarks, and it was much like your experience, only more so.

  3. As a priest, I am happy that you know now (if you did not before) that blessings can be bestowed upon us by any of us. In turn, thank you for blessing us with the recountings of these, your adventures in life.

  4. What is this thing with folks giving us their manuscripts in the bathroom? I get unsolicited manuscripts, query letters, and offers of “sharing the wealth” earned from unpublished best sellers if I would only “fix them up” for the author — I get these in bathrooms, but mostly via email.
    I’ve read stuff that left me drop jawed with incredulity — and not because it was compelling by virtue of its quality. My favorite excerpt:
    “Yes,” Jack banged his desk.
    “No,” Ben jumped his chair.
    A fight ensued!
    We need a Society for the Prevention of Furniture Abuse in Unpublished Fiction.

  5. Hey Lee,
    It’s fun to hear how much you enjoyed yourself–for the most part–at the MWG conference in Cape Girardeau. We loved having you there. I agree you and Kate were good sports for listening and responding to the readings. Your keynote was a smashing success and you were too funny at the awards ceremony.
    God bless you for bringing joy and humor to Missouri, the “Show Me” State, which apparently now can also qualify as the “Bless You” State.


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