I interviewed this guy once who had just opened a gelato shop in town. He told me that he was one of those people who came up with good ideas for businesses, but never moved fast enough, and so would see his ideas put into practice by someone else, months later.
He told me about how, when he was living in Italy, he would walk past little restaurants on the street and smell the most delicious food, and even if he had just eaten, he would get hungry again smelling the food. It occurred to him that a great business idea would be to open quick-service Italian restaurants serving pasta with red sauce, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagne, pizzas -- that kind of thing -- in shopping malls. The smell of the cooking food would draw in people walking by and he'd have a successful business.
When he returned to the U.S. about a year later, he excitedly told his dad about his idea, and his dad had to tell him that unfortunately, someone else had already beat him.
This is sort of how Thorny and I felt Monday night. I drove to Madison to hear the Yarn Harlot speak, and we spent a nice afternoon hanging around Lakeside Fibers before heading off to Borders.
We got tickets for the signing, went out for cheap sushi and then returned in time to get a primo seat on the floor in the crossword puzzle section.
(She spoke! I swear, we saw her! See? She's the tiny little figure in the gray sweater right above the blonde woman's head.)
Now, Thorny (pictured above knitting a sock) and I have a longstanding joke about the Yarn Harlot stemming from the time we went to Rhinebeck two years ago. Thorny saw the Harlot at the bloggers' meetup, and joked that she had nothing on which to get the Harlot's autograph. I remarked that she could do "the rock star thing," and get the Harlot to autograph her left breast and then she could go get a tattoo of the signature. This, naturally, did not happen.
As we were standing in line to get our books signed after a really interesting talk (her theme this tour seemed to be about the effect knitting and other meditative activities have on brain structure and function), a bookstore employee came by with a pad of Post-It notes and handed us each one, suggesting we use it to write what we wanted the Harlot to inscribe in our books.
We stared at her, a little confused.
I thought, "Well, maybe she's tired of thinking up things to write, having just finished an entire book." I know how that feels, so we set out to do our best to think something up.
Well, we thought and thought, and threatened to write the other's Post-It note and forever give the other person a book in which we had prompted the Harlot to write something bizarre. Finally, Thorny said, "Hey, how about 'Thorny: Thanks for not asking me to sign your boob!'"
We got up to the table and as we were waiting for the group of women in front of us to finish chatting, we saw one of them grab a Sharpie and disappear, giggling, with the Harlot behind a bookshelf and sure enough, just like the gelato guy who had his chance to become the king of shopping mall meatball sandwiches snatched away by Sbarro ... our joke's finished. Over. It's become someone else's punchline.
So the lesson to take away from this is that being the first to have an idea just isn't enough sometimes.
(Oh, and knitting is not only fun, it's good for your brain.)