Those who spend years writing for newspapers inevitably have stories about things they wish they had said during interviews with famous people.
Nothing surprising about that.
But sometimes reporters also harbor regrets about interviews in which they were not even participants. At least that happened to me.
I have had a lot of deskmates over the years. I like to think I got along with most. But one of my favorites was a former SR staffer named Heather Lalley.
She made me laugh and I trusted her about overhearing personal phone conversations.
Well, one day about a dozen years ago, Heather did a telephone interview with Brian Wilson. I'm pretty sure the founder of the Beach Boys was not a big deal to her — she's quite a bit younger than I am. But, of course, she was polite and professional during the call.
This was at a time when Wilson had sort of recovered from being more or less nuts for a long time. Nevertheless, I think he was subdued and not exactly a quote factory.
Still, sitting at the next desk, all I could think was “Heather is talking to Brian Wilson. The guy who wrote 'God Only Knows' and 'Good Vibrations' is on that phone she's holding.”
So Heather wrapped up the Q and A. And that was that. She was not inclined to badmouth people. But I think she was aware that I held him in some regard. So if she thought he was a dud, she didn't say it.
All these years later, I still wish I had asked her to hand me the phone before hanging up.
I would have liked to have said a couple of words to Brian Wilson.
Wouldn't it be nice if there were do-overs in real life?