Nevertheless, as the world turns, in 1979 one of my cheesy detective stories — The Big Fix — was made into a “major motion picture” starring Richard Dreyfus, for which I wrote the screenplay. No doubt because Richard was otherwise engaged, the studio sent me to Chicago to promote the opening of the movie in the Windy City, where the other Roger Simon was doing a column for one of their papers. The publicist got the idea that he should interview me — Roger Simon interviews Roger Simon. Cute. So the event was scheduled.
The other Roger never showed. Can’t say as I blame him. I don’t know if I would have either if the tables were turned.
So I never did brush up against that Roger Simon for decades, until I had invaded his terrain and started to write political commentary. That was mostly accidental on my part and came from my having been — to use the familiar pejorative — a flip-flopper (in my case, someone who was once a leftie becoming something of a rightie).
Everyone was confused by this, including me. It went so far as my being flown across country to appear on Meet the Press only to find they expected the other Roger Simon. (Yes, that really happened. My consolation prize was five minutes on air with Norah O’Donnell, who had no idea what to make of my strange libertarian utterings.)
I finally did bump into the other Roger at some Washington news gathering or other. He didn’t look pleased to see me, though perhaps that was projection. At this point I’m certain neither of us enjoys having our work confused. (I was appreciative of NRO’s Jim Geraghty, who recently referred to me as “our” Roger Simon is his esteemed morning email.)
So what does this all add up to? Not much except for one thing. No matter how unique you think your name might be, no matter how original, it is not unique enough. Most of us recall from high school English the fate of that man with that most original of names — Shelley’s Ozymandias.
And if you don’t remember that, better to heed the words of the great Memphis Slim: