There's a new oral-history biography out about George Plimpton who would be one of my heroes if I weren't so unbelievably jealous of him. (If you're going to be jealous of a dead man, why not be jealous of Shakespeare? Who sez I'm not?)
Plimpton's not only the source of some of my favorite writing, but also of one of my favorite writing stories: It comes from the introduction to a late edition of his famous book of participatory journalism, Paper Lion, about going through training camp with the Detroit Lions. Plimpton tells of being on an airport shuttle bus in Texas years later and noticing a young man in a cowboy hat staring at him: “Finally, he said, ‘I’ve read one book. Paper Lion.’” Plimpton asked the kid if he thought he’d ever read another book. “I don’t know,” came the response. “Have you written anything else?”
Well, yesterday, I pitched a Paper-Lion style story of my own, involving practicing with a women's professional football team and playing one set of downs in an exhibition game. Pitched not to a magazine yet, but to the team's management, who turned me down last year.
Here's hoping they have a change of heart or a new hunger for publicity.
Because I'd rather be a pale immitation than a jealous fan.