false praise

it was the Big Producer’s birthday
party; he had come to Hollywood overnight
and made big deals on films simply by
listening a minute or two
and then deciding
like that
whether to go with it or
not;
while others pondered budget problems
he just rolled the dice and said,
“let’s go…”
he was a refreshing innovation to
an industry long stale
from fear…

he’d even decided to put one of
my screenplays into
action
and so I was at the party
too
and it was a fairly mellow
affair
but the drinks were
free (along with the
rest) and I kept waving the waiters
in for refills
and after a while they
got to know
and kept   me in full
flow.

things were going fine when
a tragedy occurred: the Big
Producer had been eating
pizza and this long straw
from the pizza
it was just sticking out
of his mouth.
he was walking around
talking to various people and
everybody saw this straw sticking
out of his mouth
but nobody said
anything
and it went on a good
hour or so.

finally I got up
and said to the
Big Producer:   “listen,
you’ve got this straw sticking
from your mouth and I think
I better pull it
out…”

and I did.

he smiled and said,
“thank you.”

later everybody, well, not
everybody, but many people
told me
how brave I had
been:   they had all wanted
to do the same
thing.

there was nothing brave about
it:   had it gone on much
longer
I would have
puked my guts out
across the
tablecloth.

Author
Charles Bukowski
Written
1986
Source
Original manuscript