24 June 2007

Christopher Hitchens

I shared an elevator ride with someone famous during my Dublin sojourn. That's generally a good sign I was staying at an over-pricey hotel.

Christopher Hitchens, the pundit/polemicist, is on a book tour promoting "God is not great." http://www.amazon.com/God-Not-Great-Religion-Everything/dp/0446579807

Anyway, the morning after Bloomsday, June 17, I went to the elevator down the hall from my fourth floor room. Floors, by the way, are numbered at the Morrison in what I gather is typical European fashion. You can't safely walk onto the street from the "first floor," because it is what Americans call the second floor. So the fourth is the fifth.

Anyway, there was someone waiting by the 'vator. I walked in, and this somebody asked my not to press any button. So I gathered he was holding it for somebody else, and I shrugged.

The wait wasn't long. The fellow I sort-of-recognized as Christopher Hitchens walked in, and his 'vator-holding flunky walked in behind him. The latter fellow presses the button for the ground floor, and we're off.

Now I'm in a quandry. I don't want to say: "You look a lot like Christopher Hitchens" to this fellow. If he isn't, he replies, "oh, I get that a lot" with a tired voice, and I feel unnecessarily stupid.

If he replies, "Yes, that's who I am," then I suppose I'd have to say something like: "I've never read any of your books, but those columns you write for Slate are certainly spirited." But I'd again have to anticipate some tired/withering sequel. I could imagine him turning to his flunky to say, "You see? I can't even get away from them for a brief holiday!"

So I said nothing, and my brief story's three characters descended to the ground floor in nearly complete silence. Flunky said something about "when we're supposed to be there," and famous person grunted.

Twenty-four hours later, while I was waiting for a cab to take me to the airport, I glanced at a newspaper and saw that, yes, Christopher Hitchens had been in Dublin over the weekend to promote his book and take part in a debate with a theologian associated with Trinity College.

So, Chris, if you happen to read this:
1) the fellow in the lift with you that day wasn't really a mute
2) it's good to see a fellow "Christopher" make a mark in the world
3) i've never read any of your books, but those columns you write for Slate are certainly spirited.

1 comment:

Henry said...

I was also once in a foreign country and saw a celebrity not from that country. In Rome, in 2004, my wife and I were eating at an outdoor cafe and at a table nearby we saw a woman who looked like Catherine Deneuve, eating with another woman. The maitre'd was spending a lot of time with her, and, when I had a chance, I asked him if that was Catherine Deneueve, and he confirmed that it was. I was tempted to whistle the theme to Umbrellas of Cherbourg, but I resisted because I did not think that it was right to intrude on someone eating a meal. Ms. Deneuve still looked good, even though she is a bit older than she was in Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

Living in Baltimore, I frequently see John Waters, in the supermarket, among other places. I don't know him and have never spoke to him because, again, I do not think it right to intrude on celebrities. One time, however, I should have spoken to him and regret that I didn't. We were pumping gas at adjacent pumps and he was by himself, so he might not have minded if I'd said what I'd thought of saying, which was "I didn't know that famous movie directors pumped their own gas." I hope that he doesn't read this blog because, if we're ever pumping gas together again, I intend to use the line.

Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.