James Taylor Spills a Glass of Water
“Just then, a nervous waiter spilled a full glass of water into [James] Taylor’s lap. Taylor leapt to his feet and began to apologize. ‘This happens to me all the time,’ he said. ‘You chose the right guy.’ He collared the guy with a very James Taylor look, and added, ‘Besides — it’s water.’”
— Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, April 18, 2011
James Taylor had just locked the door to his home in Berkshire County when a newspaper slammed into his head, knocking his glasses off and scratching him. It began to bleed. A nervous paperboy waited in the driveway on his bike as Taylor approached. “This happens to me all the time,” Taylor said with his characteristic modesty, wiping the blood from his face with a handspun handkerchief purchased at a Berkshire County fair. Looking directly into the paperboy’s eyes, his extended arm firmly on the boy’s shoulder, Taylor said, “Besides — it’s a newspaper.”
James Taylor put the newspaper on the seat next to him as he climbed into his car and prepared to head to Manhattan. As he pulled out into the street, the driver of a passing car nervously recognized him and smashed into his car, deploying Taylor’s airbag and spinning the vehicle repeatedly until it came to a rest lightly touching a fragrant pine tree.
Taylor climbed out of the car and brushed himself off, making sure there was no safety glass on his cambric shirt, and stepped lightly over to apologize to the other driver, who was unharmed. “This happens to me all the time,” Taylor said, pointing to a series of ruined cars wrapped around trees down the road. His blue eyes reflected the fading sunlight. “Besides — it’s a car.”
James Taylor accepted a lift to the train station. While waiting for the train, a series of passengers spilled tea, coffee, juice, and a container of yogurt on him. Taylor made amends to each. On board, Taylor deftly said he was sorry for having baggage dropped on him, and for a dozen passengers pressing the emergency stop button, some repeatedly.
At Grand Central Station, out-of-towners were given their chance to drop Rick Steves’ guides, a dozen bagels, and Statue of Liberty replicas on James Taylor. He looked at each deeply as he apologized. “Besides — it’s a book…a bagel…a replica,” he said soulfully.
Taylor arrived at Carnegie Hall. During his live performance, klieg lights rained down onto the stage, but only a few grazed him. He told the stagehands during breaks that he was deeply sorry. They looked at him nervously. “You chose the right guy,” he said, as they edged away. “Besides — it’s only 60 lb. lighting instruments dropped from a height of 50 feet.”
In his dressing room relaxing after the show, James Taylor reached for a glass of water, slipped, and spilled it on himself. “Shit,” he said in only the way a troubadour of Baby Boomers’ woes could. “What kind of moron spills a glass of water?”
Originally published on my blog in 2011.