VAT: Who gets to play Norman Mailer?

In 1977 on a flight from NYC to Dallas, I sat next to a gentleman busy scribbling on his paperwork. Asked him what he was doing, he replied, “working out which bets I want to make” on some football games or horse races. We continued talking and he said he was a magazine writer but didn’t mention his name as he felt I undoubtedly never heard of him. A couple of hours later, I asked him if anyone ever said he looked like Norman Mailer. He said, “Congratulations, it took you a while.” I immediately responded, “Someone has to be Norman Mailer and you’re it; how is it being Norman Mailer, do you enjoy the role?” He replied: ” Terrific role, really enjoying it.”

Mailer was a novelist, journalist, politician, essayist, playwright, film-maker, actor and painter; married six times; had nine children; numerous affairs; stabbed his wife; wrote 11 best-sellers; and cavorted with the glitterati. Yet, the man sitting next to me didn’t seem to take his role too seriously. Maybe that’s why he was Norman Mailer.