“In that moment, all my pride immediately dissipated like soap bubbles. From then on, I always reminded myself: No matter how good you are, you should never think that you are so special”
Famous writer Booth Tarkington was once guest of honour at an American Red Cross literary art exhibit. Enjoying the event from the privacy of his own booth, two young, starstruck women approached him and shyly asked for his autograph.
Tarkington replied, smiling: “I’m so sorry, I do not have a fountain pen. May I use a pencil to sign for you, ladies?”
The question was merely for show, a flagrant display of celebrity airs and graces; he already knew that the girls would never refuse his autograph, even if it were written in pencil. And, naturally, they replied: “Yes, of course!”
Tarkington signed, smugly, lavishing words of encouragement for the young ladies on the pages of the gold-plated notebooks handed to him.
The fans, delighted, squealed: “Thank you!”
However, after looking down and seeing the signature of ‘Booth Tarkington’ on the page, one of the young women furrowed her brow, looked up in confusion and asked: “So, you’re not Robert Sherwood?”
Booth Tarkington narrowed his eyes, stood tall and responded:
“Oh, no! I’m Booth Tarkington, author of Alice Adams, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes!”
The questioning young woman turned to her friend, shrugged her shoulders and declared: “Mary, lend me your eraser!”
Booth Tarkington (1869 – 1946), became a celebrated 20th century American writer and playwright, and his two novels, The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams won the honorable Pulitzer Prize. At leisure, Booth Tarkington often told this story of wounded pride to his relatives, colleagues and friends, and added:
“In that moment, all my pride immediately dissipated like soap bubbles. From then on, I always reminded myself: No matter how good you are, you should never think that you are so special.”