The earlier post today about a tone-deaf author insulting an editor at lunch prompted some commenters to ask, probably not too sardonically but one never really knows: "so J, what would you have done had you been sitting there?"
A. Pray for the imminent arrival of either the risen Christ and/or the four horsemen of the apocalypse; try to sign one or all to exclusive book deal.
B. Pray for a large black hole to erupt in the floor and then leap into it, sans parachute
C. Stand up, throw my serviette in the air and scream "Holy Rodentia, a RAT!"
D. Divert the editors attention with a hissed "look there, it's Judith Regan back from China interviewing Peter Olson for a job", and then stab my author with a fork. I read crime fiction; I know how to do that.
All hilarity aside, I'd be so mortified I'm not sure I'd have the presence of mind to do anything other than sit there and pray for a stroke. His, mine, doesn't matter. Just death, now.
What happens AFTERwards though is how you survive this. First, you phone the editor and say something like "well, that was one for the blog, wasn't it".
Then you send flowers and a card that says "We lived through the crap at lunch, here are the resulting posies. Please accept my heartfelt apologies for my boorish client and my failure to kill him mid-word."
And of course, you pick up the tab for lunch. Discreetly.
We've all had stuff like this happen. I can laugh about it now but I'm also a whole lot less willing to let someone natter on stupidly anymore without simply putting a hand on his knee and saying, very quietly, "stop talking now." Which is why you always sit next to the client and across from the editor at these meetings. I learned that from the Art of War, my operating rules for living in NYC.