Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Truman Capote's Initial Offer

Truman Capote, Portraits and Observations. The Essays of Truman Capote. NY: Random House, 2007, p. 461.


[O]ne night I was sitting with friends at a table in a crowded Key West bar. At a nearby table, there was a mildly drunk woman with a very drunk husband. Presently, the woman approached me and asked me to sign a paper napkin. All this seemed to anger her husband; he staggered over to the table, and after unzipping his trousers and hauling out his equipment, said: "Since you're autographing things, why don't you autograph this?" The tables surrounding us had grown silent, so a great many people heard my reply, which was: "I don't know if I can autograph it, but perhaps I can initial it."

Truman Capote, Portraits and Observations. The Essays of Truman Capote. NY: Random House, 2007, pp. 502-3.


My funniest memory, though, is of four or five years ago, when I was staying with Tennessee in Key West. We were in a terrifically crowded bar -- there were probably three hundred people in it, both gays and straights. A husband and wife were sitting at a little table in the corner, and they were both quite drunk. She had on a pair of slacks and a halter-top, and she approached our table and held out an eyebrow pencil. She wanted me to autograph her belly button.

I just laughed and said, "Oh no, leave me alone."

"How can you be so cruel?" Tennessee said to me, and as everyone in the place watched, he took the eyebrow pencil and wrote my name around her navel. When she got back to her table, her husband was furious. Before we knew it, he had grabbed the eyebrow pencil out of her hand and walked over to where we were sitting, whereupon he unzipped his pants and pulled out his cock and said -- to me --"Since you're autographing everything today, would you mind autographing mine?"

I had never heard a place with three hundred people in it get that quiet. I didn't know what to say -- I just looked at him.

Then Tennessee reached up and took the eyebrow pencil out of the stranger's hand. "I don't know that there's room for Truman to autograph it," he said, giving me a wink, "but I'll initial it."

It brought down the house.

Lawrence Grobel, Conversations with Capote. Da Capo Press, 2000 [1985], p. 43.

You did get something from an autograph seeker in a Key West bar -- an amusing story? Could you relate it?

It was in a bar in Key West and it was very, very crowded. I was sitting there with Tennessee. And this woman came over to this table where we were sitting and she had on a little pull-up shirt and she pulled up her shirt and handed me an eyebrow pencil. And she said, "I want you to autograph my navel." I said, "What?" And she said, "Just write it like you would the numerals around a clock." I said, "Oh no, forget that." And Tennessee said, "Oh, now, go on, go ahead." So I wrote my name: T-R-U-M-A-N C-A-P-O-T-E. Right around her navel, like a clock. This had caused a certain silence in this room. She went back to her table and her husband was in a rage. He was drunk as all get-out, and he got up from the table and came over and he had the eyebrow pencil in his hand. He looked at me with this infinite hatred, handed me the eyebrow pencil, unzipped his fly, and hauled out his equipment. By this point there was a dead, total silence in the whole bar. Everybody was looking. And he said, "Since you're autographing everything, how'd you like to autograph this?" There was a pause...and I said, "Well, I don't know if I can autograph it, but perhaps I could initial it."