One afternoon I went to a cafeteria on Fourth Street and Seventh Avenue and sat down beside two men. When we started talking, one man spoke with a thick Texas accent, so I asked him where he was from.
"New York," he said.
"How did you get that Texas accent?" I asked.
"I was in the army."
"But why would you get a Texas accent in the army?" I'm sure I had a look of puzzlement on my face.
"It was the protective coloration," he said, "because if you were a Jew in the army, they called you all kinds of names, teased you and made it hard on you. So I pretended to be a Texan." He said he had been out of the army for about eight months, but still hadn't broken the habit. Then we introduced ourselves. He told me his name was Norman Mailer and the other man said he was Jimmy Baldwin.
Although Mailer, who was as yet unpublished, and I never became good friends, Jimmy Baldwin and I became close after that meeting in Hector's Cafeteria.