He may have been
right, except that several of us had no seats at all. We "saw" the show
from the lobby, but we didn't complain: we had the pleasant sense of closeness
to Parisian sin, even if we had to guess what stage of undress the chorines had
We were ready to
go home, but there was one final hitch. Our jet flight from Shannon to New York
had been canceled ("technical problems") and we were transferred to a
propeller leaving at 3:30 in the morning.
about it," demanded the Star Salesman.
I checked airline
after airline. Every jet was booked solid. Come back in the winter, they said,
when the season is over. I had picked up a certain amount of glib skill in
negotiating over hotel desks and customs counters, but this seemed unbeatable.
The only possibility left was sheer luck, and it happened in a major airlines
office. I walked into their headquarters on a Monday morning and came out with
tickets for all on a jet leaving London on Wednesday.
I went back to
the hotel and announced the change. The Star Salesman said, "It hurts me to
say it, but you are a genius."
Mr. Cognac took
me aside. "Did you get some flowers in your room back at Lisbon?"
said. "Wasn't that thoughtful of the hotel management?"
him I told you," said Mr. Cognac, "but the Star Salesman sent those. He
said you looked so low that day he hoped you lived to enjoy them. Not a bad
guy, the Star Salesman." Not a bad guy at all.
A few weeks
later, back home in San Francisco, the Star Salesman telephoned. "I've been
thinking," he said, cheerily. "Count me in for your tour of the Tokyo
Olympics in 1964."
out," I said.