It only took Jill Bauerle a few minutes to recognize the woman at the table she was serving. It took the rest of the meal for her to work up the nerve to remind the woman of their connection.
On a Friday night not too long ago, I approached a new deuce in my section, a couple. The woman seemed familiar and I pegged her as a publishing type. I don’t know why I decided this, except that I wait on a lot of publishing types and they are different from other business people. She seemed intelligent and fashionable, someone who could reference both Dostoevsky and “Sex and the City” in the same phrase. I thought that perhaps she was someone I had waited on before. I brought drinks and conducted the usual menu FAQ, describing the skate wing and just exactly what Basque-style means in reference to the veal tongue. Meanwhile, a bass drum thudded in my ears. I recognized the woman’s sultry voice. I was waiting on my agent.
The last time my agent and I had met face to face had been four years ago at a restaurant near her office on the Upper West Side. She had just offered to represent my first novel. The next logical step, it seemed, was that my novel would sell; a work that had been four years in the making. No such luck. Now it was almost one full novel later and we were meeting in a restaurant again. Only this time I was wearing a designer uniform and a little leather pouch-belt full of pens, wine key, paper and mints, and I was selling her on the Poached Salmon Tartar.