It was last year at a rock concert that I met Salman Rushdie.
Only it wasn’t a rock concert, really. Not per se. It was small show by Robyn Hitchcock, which is to say sort of a Monty Python meets Captain Beefheart sort of thing with an acid folk bent. You know what I mean. If you can imagine that, then you know what I mean.
Salman Rushdie was sitting at a table at the back, drinking beers with a heron-looking woman. The lights were low but in my mind, I pictured her as looking like a heron.
And the show had not yet started so I walked up to his table and I said, “Masaa al-Khair, Mr. Rushdie.” I was not one hundred percent certain it was him.
He said hello, or perhaps “Good evening.” I moved in to shake his hand but then thought better of it. I pulled back. I said I did not know if I was allowed to shake his hand, what with there being an Islamic death warrant on his head and all. I did not say that last bit out loud but it was implied.
He probably believed I was about to kill him.
I did not kill him. Instead, we spoke of magic realism and especially of how underappreciated Jose Donoso’s Obscene Bird of Night is.
Later on, I kept wondering if it had really been Salman Rushdie at all. Then I stumbled onto this tweet: