Sunday Scribblings – Interview with a quitter

 

Arguably one of the most renowned professional Quitters in the biz, Ron Parquetta finally agreed to meet with me for an interview.  This took some doing.  It’s no secret that Mr. Parquetta is an eccentric, illusive type, tight with his business, so what he’s really doing, what he’s really about is anyone’s guess.  And he likes it that way.  The buzz is that he’ll be retiring from Quitting soon, and I’d initially wondered if granting this interview is tied to that somehow.  It is.  So this interview is a big deal, and not just because of that.

 

Parquetta’s credentials are impressive.  He held the Quitting King title in 2006, was featured in the Who’s It…Not magazine three times between the start of his career in 1978 and now, and won the acclaimed Quitters International award seven times, also during that timeframe.  This is a rare opportunity.  As I alluded, Parquetta despises interviews, has granted only the bare minimum in relation to awards acceptances.

 

No surprise, then, when I called Parquetta to schedule this interview, that he sounded impatient, irritated.  But he also sounded confused, which was a surprise.  I tried to make it easy for him and suggested we just do a phone interview.  But he mumbled something about overcoming something and threw a place and time at me—the Lucky Diner on Cordovan St at 11am, Friday—and hung up.  Fine with me.

 

On the big day, I left early since I wasn’t sure exactly where the Lucky Diner was.  Good thing.  It was tucked back from the street into the alley.  I went by it twice.  Creepy little place.  But I bucked up, excited to pop the lid on the psychology of Quitting, to find out what makes a Quitter tick.  I walked into the joint and spotted him right away in one of the cramped booths.  I approached confidently, arm outstretched, ready for a hearty handshake, but I could see his gaze was fixed on the two big black bags hanging from my shoulder, my laptop and oversized purse.  They seemed to unnerve him.  He recoiled, looked at me with a sort of “How could you?” expression on his face.

 

OK, so much for the handshake.  In so many words, I apologized for blustering in with fierce black bags and he relaxed a bit, “Sit down…please,” he said.  I stuffed the offending bags under the table amidst the toast crusts and jelly blobs and slid onto the ratty red bench seat.  I leaned over to dig in my purse and emerged with just a small recorder.  He didn’t seem to mind.  But I asked anyway, “Do you mind if I record us?”  He raised one eyebrow and said hesitantly, “Ah, no…”

 

So there we strange folk were, and here’s how it went during the course of a round and a half of coffee and a BLT:

 

MISS A:  When did you first realize Quitting was what you wanted to do professionally?

 

PARQUETTA:  Ah, well, it’s the only thing that ever came easily to me.  Everything else I tried was too difficult.

 

MISS A:  What other things did you try?

 

PARQUETTA:  Oh, I dunno, lots of things. [shifts nervously]

 

MISS A:  So you just kind of fell into it?

 

PARQUETTA:  Yes, the ease of it.

 

MISS A:  What do you think is behind this ease—psychologically and maybe even physically—that, for you, facilitates Quitting?

 

PARQUETTA:  Oh, I don’t know.  I’ve never thought too deeply about it.  That’s too difficult a thing.

 

MISS A:  You’re right.  Let me ask you this, then: how do you feel right before quitting something?

 

PARQUETTA:  Well kind of like I feel right now—very uncomfortable, threatened, like too much is being asked of me, much more than I can handle.  My brain begins to feel like it’s in a vice, I get panicky and I just have to quit and run away…  Shit…  Maybe this interview’s not such a good idea after all…

 

MISS A:  Sorry.  Give me another chance?

 

PARQUETTA:  Well, OK, but I tell you I’m getting mighty nervous…

 

MISS A:  OK, tell you what:  let’s shift gears.  I want you to know I understand the concept of Quitting.  I had to fight hard to make myself go to school and get this job.  I just went another route than you, that’s all, and I’d really like to know how it was for you.  Will you share that with me?  And afterward it will be up to you what we use out of this session or if we even use it at all.  OK?

 

PARQUETTA:  Yeah, that sounds good.  Fine.  OK.

 

MISS A:  Super!  Tell me then, how does it feel to you to quit?  Like what goes on within you—feelings, emotions, thoughts, etc?

 

PARQUETTA:  That’s the catch, where the rub is.  The quitting part is easy.  The aftermath is emotional hell.

 

MISS A:  Mmm, what is this emotional hell?

 

PARQUETTA:  It’s regret, it’s shame, it’s spending my whole life wishing I wasn’t a Quitter, wishing I could face difficulty, work through it, and persevere to personal victory.  Some people make that look so easy…  Look, going back to the first question you asked me about realizing what I wanted to do professionally, this is about an idea I had as a kid that one’s profession is supposed to come easily to them.  You know, natural talent.  You’re born with a skill, you don’t have to practice it, you’re just great at it.  I’m not sure how or why that idea developed for me, but when I found out Perseverance wasn’t easy for me and Quitting was, naturally I deduced that Quitting was my natural profession, and it just went on a roll from there.  Too easy to keep going, too hard to stop.  That’s all it was.

 

MISS A:  Yeah, I can see how that’d be.  What about relationships?  What are they like for you?

 

PARQUETTA:  Oh, it’s the same thing with them.  With people in general, I deal with the ones I have to deal with, in business for example, and I quit the ones I don’t have to deal with that I don’t want to deal with.  Romantic relationships are a disaster.  I can only go about a year before I get that brain-in-a-vice, panicky feeling and have to quit them.

 

MISS A:  Really?  Wow.  So it’s always been that way with people?  Not even one good relationship over the years?

 

PARQUETTA:  Man, you’re pain in the ass, you know it? [laughs]

 

MISS A:  [laughs] Yeah, I know.  I really want you on record with this.  I think it’s integral to the development here.

 

PARQUETTA:  Alright.  Well, of course there was a good relationship, a marriage.  And that’s all I’ll say.  The ending of it was sheer clinical, psychological perfection:  it messed with my head and ruined me going forward.

 

MISS A:  Enough said.  Thanks for that.  So I understand you’re preparing to retire from Quitting, is that correct?

 

PARQUETTA:  No.

 

MISS A:  No?  The whole Quitting industry is abuzz with that rumour!  Will you tell me what the real deal is, Mr. Parquetta?

 

PARQUETTA:  I’ve already retired!  Yes, I’ve quit Quitting! [Laughs]  Today’s the day, and today you’re the lucky reporter.

 

MISS A:  Oh my gosh!  Really?  Thank you, sir!  [Laughs] Hence, the Lucky Diner!  [Laughs]  What brought this on?

 

PARQUETTA:  It all has to do with what I said about the hard part of quitting, the emotional hell.  After a bazillion years it finally dawned on me that Quitting is just as difficult as Persevering, that I can’t run from difficulty.  Even the smiling ease of quitting has its frowning face of difficulty.  I’ve just not wanted to deal with it…because it’s too difficult!  So what the hell!  If Quitting’s difficult, if everything’s difficult, then what the hell!  If it’s all the same, and Quitting hasn’t worked for me, well, why not toss a dart, flip a coin, spin the globe and try something, anything else.  What’ve I go to lose?  Not a damned thing, you know?

 

MISS A:  Yeah, exactly.  So then what’s next for you?

 

PARQUETTA:  I’m gonna join P.T. Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth and stick with it if it kills me.  [Winks]

 

MISS A:  [Laughs] I get it.  OK Mr. Parquetta, we’ll be watching for you anywhere, everywhere, then!  Thank you so very much for spending this time with me.  I’ll let you have a look at the transcript as soon as it’s available.  And going forward?  Don’t forget about me if you’re feeling talkative, OK?  [winks]

 

PARQUETTA:  [laughs] You’ll be the first to know, Missy.  You’ve been great. 

 

And with that, he shook my hand heartily…with a smile.

 

So that’s how it went down—way better in myriad ways than I thought it would when I first sat down in that sorry diner.  True, we now know why Parquetta doesn’t do interviews.  He’s no good at them.  They make him look less than his accomplishments suggest he is, and he doesn’t need the hassle of the media pointing up the contrast.  Well, until now.  He’s retired.  It doesn’t matter.  He’s come clean and let us print all of the interview.  Successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, princes, and kings of Quitting are just people fighting their own foibles like anyone else.  And my instinct to lighten up on Parquetta paid off with the hope of future interviews.  All in all, it was a good day.  I had to wash the bottoms of my laptop case and purse when I got home, but it was worth it. 

 

 

PHOTO CREDITS

All photos from Getty Images with the exception of the diner photo which was snagged from
 

http://epicurious.blogs.com/features__editor/images/2008/04/07/relish_diner_wmsburg.jpg

.

 
 

 Click here for more on prompt “#112 – Quitting” from other Sunday Scribblings participants.

Fini

 

Advertisements

19 responses to “Sunday Scribblings – Interview with a quitter

  1. Twas fun, Miss A, though I fear you are tweaking us beyond the obviousnesses; you are clearly not one for surfaces alone, dahling. I thought perhaps there was a clue in Mr. Parquetta’s name, but google-searches yield nothing beyond etymologies of parquet. Yes, he/she is no doubt a hodgepodge of us all (perhaps even latent Miss A’s), but…I’ll shut up now, before I start sounding even more like the kind of English teachers I despise. I did find something in the googling. Portuguese for parquet (or parquetry, I can’t recall now) is chão de tacos.

    It’s a 3 day weekend: plentytime to dig further into the Alister files. Rave on.

  2. Hey, it’s like a hall of mirrors up there, all that quit quitting going on. And if it’s true that WHAT we do in life is less significant than WHY we do that thing, then quitting has gotten a bad rap. Either as an act of courage ( think smoking, drinking, unrewarding job) or cowardliness (‘too bad for you and the kids, Honey, I’m outta here) quitting will reveal the best and worst in us. I do hope Mr. Parquetta finds a suitable new career. It’s a shame to loose a man when he’s simultaneously at the top and the bottom of his game.

  3. sassy stuff!!! – really enjoyed your post last week as well, she likely went for the jack’s!!! – thanks so much for reading robot and your feedback – incisive and insightful

  4. Imelda: I’m so glad you liked it! Mr. P doesn’t exist per se, but I’m sure there’s a soul out there that’s just like him somewhere on this vast planet! I’ve shed a tear just in case ;-)

    paschal, you brilliant rascal, of course there’s neurosis under the surface! There always is. Really, you seem more Harvard-graduated psychotherapist than English teacher! ;-) It would have been perfect to pack the poor sod’s name to the gills with crypticness, and I did toy with that for a bit, but I settled for the look of the word and the psychoacoustic effect when “spoken” in one’s head. I admit I’m such the quitta!
    Paschal? Welcome and then some! It’s good to have you here :-D

    gautami tripathy: I bet you did find it so, given your current frame of mind ;-) But you’re quite obviously in touch with the place inspiration resides, and you download it daily, how I don’t know, but your site is rich with it, and easy with your wordsmith’s skill in arrangement. I look forward to keeping on checking your site to see how Creativity works out the quitting sensation! :-)

    Bass: refraction out the wazzoo! That’s why it’s so much lighter up here than down there where all the smoke is ;-)
    I agree what we do in life is less significant than why we do it—the why is the bud to nip or nourish if possible. Again you’re in tune with Devil Mood. Her SS#112 post entertains these things and more. Are you a Sagittarius by any chance?
    Hilarious observation regarding our poor Mr. Parquetta, btw! Maybe your smoke has mirrors after all!

    Jennifer: I loved your site earlier today. I spent a humongous chunk of my life in Texas so I ‘bout busted a gut when I saw your fuck all y’all cartoon. Exactly. I’m thrilled you stopped by here. I’ll be back by to love your site some more in a bit.

    Devil Mood: my head will have to diet now (one of the many reasons I love you so much!)

    danni: ooh, sassy! That just appeals to me every whichway. Makes me smile, feel proud, understood, reinforced… Makes me want to continue the trend, tell it like it is, use the f-word…
    Welcome! I’m glad you’re here.

  5. initially, i was a littel confused – us bums are a little slow in the uptake, you see.
    and then it dawned on me, and i could see, crystal clear – the creative genius in you. i am in awe, miss!
    *bows*

  6. Thank you, Jenn! I’m still at it. One of the list items in my head as it boots up on wake-up is, “Jenn Hicks The Now.” I’m doing well, but then not much has been present in my life these past few days to really, I mean really, test it! Not to worry, though, I’m on the case!

    AN: welcome, sir! I’ll take your compliment and run like one of the Point Break Ex-Presidents. See you next Sunday!

    Hi Dharmabum! Slow on the uptake? You??? Oh, I don’t think so!!! That you were at first confused just means one part of my mission for this piece was accomplished! And I neeeeeeed feedback—good, bad, or indifferent, either way, any way—as I’m trying to improve my style, my ideas, my flow with the entire Universe for crying out loud! Well, you know, it’s about the tall order I mentioned on my About page! So thank you so very much for your input! :-)

  7. That was a wonderful writing. I felt like I was in an old time black and white movie. You had my attention entirely. Love what you did with quiting.

  8. Oh hey there Tammie! Welcome! Yes, I’ve seen you over at Paschal’s place. This Sunday Scribblings thing is great, isn’t it? The only thing that’s not so great is trying to get around to see everybody’s writing and not being able to! I’m missing so much…heck, I missed your visionary piece, which inspired a few thoughts I’ll post on your site in a bit. Until then, thank you so much for stopping by with your input—I loved the B&W movie take!

  9. Miss A, based upon your last comment to Tammie, clearly you do not have your priorities straight (read: your ducks in a line). What’s this “not being able to” stuff? I suspect life in the fast lane of gainful employ is gettin’ in the way of life’s truer passions. Take a lesson from your mentor Mr. Parquetta and get in with the Down Low. But, loosen the tie, fer shure.

  10. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for yourr site.
    You have some really great polsts and I believe I would be a good asset.
    If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write
    some content for your blog iin exchange for a link
    back to mine. Please shoot mme an email if interested.

    Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s