Truman Capote on Being Recognized

Q: How do you handle the “recognition factor”?

A: It doesn’t bother me a bit, and it’s very useful when you want to cash a check in some strange locale. Also, it can occasionally have amusing consequences. For instance, one night I was sitting with friends at a table in a crowded Key West bar. At a nearby table, there was a mildly drunk woman with a very drunk husband. Presently, the woman approached me and asked me to sign a paper napkin. All this seemed to anger her husband; he staggered over to the table, and after unzipping his trousers and hauling out his equipment, said: “Since you’re autographing things, why don’t you autograph this?” The tables surrounding us had grown silent, so a great many people heard my reply, which was: “I don’t know if I can autograph it, but perhaps I can initial it.”

Ordinarily, I don’t mind giving autographs. But there is one thing that gets my goat: without exception, every grown man who has ever asked me for an autograph in a restaurant or on an airplane has always been careful to say that he wanted it for his wife or his daughter or his girl friend, but never, never just for himself.

I have a friend with whom I often take long walks on city streets. Frequently, some fellow stroller will pass us, hesitate, produce a sort of is-it-or-isn’t it frown, then stop me and ask, “Are you Truman Capote?” And I’ll say, “Yes, I’m Truman Capote.” Whereupon my friend will scowl and shake me and shout, “For Christ’s sake, George—when are you going to stop this? Some day you’re going to get into serious trouble!”

Capote, Truman. Music For Chameleons