My wife Jeanne and I were at Book Expo America in NYC,  promoting my debut novel,  Humpty Dumpty Was Pushed. The previous night, Jeanne was up late, seeking out events that could be relevant to our mission. She found the mother lode. Tavis Smiley is going to be on the main stage interviewing Cornell West. We are certain he’s the perfect audience for the book.

The strategy and outcome seem simple: We attend the event. Afterwards, we approach Tavis. I give him my book. I get invited to appear on his show. Ta-daaaa!

“Hi Tavis, I’m Marc Blatte and this is my wife Jeanne. I was just on NPR with Linda Wertheimer, talking about my new book,” cue flashing book  in his face, “it’s really happening.”

“Nice man,” is the response. I hear crickets chirruping in the background.

Intrepid Jeanne says, “It’s based on a hip hop label we had.”

A little more than nothing. Call it courtesy.

My inner voice is crying out for me to do something as we all stand around looking at each other. It reminds me of when the WB frog gives up his performing, throws down his cane and top hat and lets out that slow, ‘Ribbit…’

A thought! I blurt out: “The Four Tops hit, When She Was My Girl, I wrote it.”

Big smile. Huge hand shake as he breaks into song.

“Yo, Cornell!” he says to Dr. West, who is on the other side of the stage, “My man here wrote When She Was My Girl for The Four Tops.”

Cornell runs the fifty feet across the stage to me. Standing above me, he bows to the floor. “Man I love that song.” He reaches down from the stage and I reach up. We embrace. “That’s what I’m talking about.”

I show him my book. “I want an autographed copy,” he says.

Tavis says he wants one too.