It’s Oracle of Omaha (and Bank of America’s Supposedly Unnecessary Capital Requirements Savior) Warren Buffett’s 81st Birthday! And we thought we’d commemorate the occasion by telling a little story we’ve had in pocket for a few months, awaiting an day like this one (anything remotely resembling timeliness to the story in question).
So: let’s flash back a few months…
SETTING: A RAINY MAY NIGHT IN NEW YORK CITY.
PLACE: THE TOO BIG TO FAIL HBO MOVIE PARTY, AT THE FOUR SEASONS RESTAURANT IN MIDTOWN.
WARREN BUFFETT, 80-year old world-famous value investor and chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.
DEVON SPURGEON, former Wall Street Journal reporter turned Warren Buffett’s Chief of Staff once noted for her “movie-star looks” and “nose for news.”
EDITOR LADY, Editor-in-Chief of The New York Observer.
REPORTER, a reporter for The New York Observer.
PARTY REPORTER, a party reporter for The New York Observer.
OTHER LURKERS, random people hanging out near the pastry table.
At a party where a peak-nexus of celebrities from the financial world and Hollywood meet, the most talked-about table may be tucked away in a corner near the pastries, where WARREN BUFFETT is seated, flanked by four women. One of them, as we’ll later learn, is his Chief-of-Staff and “latest Daisy May” DEVON SPURGEON. Various onlookers chatter about his presence in the periphery. Nearby, EDITOR LADY is goading her REPORTER on.
EDITOR LADY: You need to get a quote from him. This will be perfect for your story.
REPORTER: Of course. I know his position on farming investments, it’s already in the piece. But the—
EDITOR LADY: —story would be greatly improved with a quote from Warren Buffett on farming? Yes it would.
REPORTER: I don’t think he’s going to talk to me about it.
EDITOR LADY: You won’t know until you try.
REPORTER: No, I’m pretty sure I know here.
EDITOR LADY: Prove it.
EDITOR LADY and REPORTER continue to lurk above the pastry table as WARREN BUFFETT continues to hold court. Twenty minutes later, he gets up to leave. REPORTER goes to speak with him, but is beaten to the punch.
OLD LURKER MAN: Hey, Warren, I wanted to introduce you to…
YOUNG LURKER MAN: Hey, Warren, I’m a writer for The Huffington Post, I write about sports, I just wanted to say hello.
WARREN BUFFETT: Sports, huh?
A murmur-level conversation between WARREN BUFFETT and OTHER LURKERS continues until DEVON SPURGEON motions towards the exit.
WARREN BUFFETT: Well, it was nice meeting you, but I have to get on my wa—
EDITOR LADY: (Sotto Voce, to REPORTER) Go. Get him.
REPORTER: I know goddamnit. (To WARREN BUFFETT) Hi there, Mr. Buffett, my name is REPORTER, I’m a reporter for the New York Observer, I just wanted to say hi.
WARREN BUFFETT stops.
WARREN BUFFETT: Oh, hello there!
REPORTER: Hi. I just had a quick question for you.
WARREN BUFFETT: Sure, what can I help you with?
REPORTER: Well, you see, I’m working on this thing about farming, and I know you’ve said that you think it’s a safer inflation hedge than go—
DEVON SPURGEON grabs WARREN BUFFETT by the arm and maneuvers between him and REPORTER. They begin to leave.
DEVON SPURGEON: I’m sorry, he’s not going to answer that, we were on our way out. Have a good night.
REPORTER: It’s just a quick thing, it won’t take more than a mome—
WARREN BUFFETT: (Being quickly whisked away) Talk to my son! He’ll te—
DEVON SPURGEON: No. Have a good night. He’s not going to answer that.
WARREN BUFFETT: My son will tell you all—
REPORTER: But what do you thi—
DEVON SPURGEON: If you want, you can call my office tomorrow. Goodnight. Thanks. Bye.
WARREN BUFFETT: He’d love to talk to you about farming! My son is—
REPORTER: Well, okay, bu—
DEVON SPURGEON: We’re leaving now.
REPORTER: Fine. (Pissed.) Do you have a business card?
DEVON SPURGEON: Sure, here. (Hands REPORTER business card. REPORTER looks at the card.) Nice meeting you. Goodb—
REPORTER: Yeah. Great. Thanks.
WARREN BUFFETT and DEVON SPURGEON leave the room. REPORTER walks ten feet over to EDITOR LADY, seated with PARTY REPORTER. They are both smiling, having witnessed the entire encounter from a front-row seat.
PARTY REPORTER: That was great.
EDITOR LADY: At least you tried!
REPORTER: I knew that would happen. I tol—
EDITOR LADY: Yeah. So did I.
PARTY REPORTER: That was fantast—
EDITOR LADY: At least you got a business card out of it.
REPORTER: Oh, yeah. All the help this thing will be.
EDITOR LADY: Why’s that?
REPORTER hands EDITOR LADY the business card. EDITOR LADY starts laughing.
PARTY REPORTER: What?
EDITOR LADY: (To REPORTER, handing it back) Congratulations. You just got your first ‘Fuck Off Card.’ This is what she gives away at parties when she wants people like you to—
REPORTER: Fuck off?
EDITOR LADY: Exactly.
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