NYR iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Wednesday Martin

Wednesday Martin

Posted: November 18, 2009 04:26 PM

Writer/Concierge: More Adventures of a Non-Bestselling Author

What's Your Reaction?

The economy and future of publishing being what they are, it seems prudent for writers to keep our day jobs, or to find one. The good news is that in addition to being an extremely non-bestselling author, I am also a concierge. The bad news is that I'm not very good at it. Let's start with my uniform: today it's a Marc Jacobs thermal underwear style shirt and black leggings. Don't be fooled by the Marc Jacobs part -- I'm wearing long underwear and leggings. Do you like this scrunchie I got at the Price Chopper in Cape Cod six years ago? Please don't look at my feet. Thank you. I do have a very professional and polished manicure right now, as I talked about my book at a JCC in New Jersey last night. Many thanks to the four people who showed up.

My other problem, and I know this will come as a surprise, is my attitude. Have you ever seen a concierge lose her temper while wearing a bathrobe and trying to secure tickets to West Side Story while her two-year-old yells that he doesn't like Elmo? When you're the concierge of your own apartment, it happens, but that doesn't make it any more acceptable than if you're working at the Four Seasons, which I would like to preserve my option of doing while I contemplate writing my next -- Hold on a sec, okay? I just have to answer the door, because the dry cleaning is here.

And look at that, my toddler's nursery school on the caller I.D. That can't be good! Let's screen while you and I chat and I put away the Fresh Direct delivery that showed up early. I'll probably forget to put some of it away -- most likely the cheese -- and just leave it on the counter until my husband gets home, when I sit down to do a little writing. With the emphasis on little. How much do you need to write anyway, really?

Wait, I forgot about your -- hey, my toddler has a fever! Could you put this stuff away while I go get him? And maybe break down the boxes? It goes without saying that I usually do it myself. I won't be long. Unless I have to stop to pick up something for my eight-year-old's science project.

Here we are! Isn't he cute? Sorry it took forever, but I had to take him to the pediatrician after he threw up on my uniform. Good thing I have more thermal shirts! Let's turn on Teletubbies and it's right back to you.

Whoops -- sorry, it looks like the cleaning lady has some concerns. We're out of the things that I leave her money to buy, and she's having some personal problems too. Could I just ask you to wait a teensy-weensy minute longer while I see what I can do? You're being really patient. And the thing is that the plumber is coming up now--the toddler flushed a toothbrush down the toilet a few days ago, or maybe it was a plastic toy, but you're really going to like the plumber. And guess what? I'll also be able to introduce you to the oven repair guy, who's coming up right this minute. He's only three hours late.

You know what? -- just one more little tiny minute, I promise; the oven repair guy really has a lot to say, doesn't he? -- I'm thinking it could be fun to do Thanksgiving without an oven. Really unexpected. Like a raw foods Thanksgiving? Do you have any dietary restrictions? Let me just jot that down.

Whew, now back to you! But first I just need to also quickly jot down all the stuff we've been doing together, you and I, while you wait for me to write something for you to read. It's been quite a whirlwind, hasn't it? Maybe that's why it's hard for me to remember how to respond whenever my husband comes home and I say, "I really need a drink" and he asks, "Why? Have you seen my black pants?"

When the coop board interviewed us for this apartment -- thereby sort of interviewing me for my job as concierge of this apartment, without me ever knowing what they were up to -- they told my husband and me that this is something of a "writer's building." It seems that Philip Roth wrote one of his most important novels while living here. Frank McCourt lived just downstairs, and was a good sport when I carped about his renovation. Nancy Friday lives a few floors up or something -- I'll look into that for your next visit. Anyway I'm wondering, how did they ever get anything done? Do bestselling writers hire their own concierges? If so, my contact information is available by clicking on my bio to the left.