About halfway through my collaboration, lunchtime had become an uneasy truce. Most of my adult life, I never paid much attention to eating lunch at a certain time. If I was playing tennis or out with friends or working around the house, lunch happened when it happened. That changed when I met John St. John.
He and I would meet at the Parker Center at about ten, head to whatever was scheduled for that day: an interview, check out a previous crime scene, or write and review our work-in-progress. John St. John believed work trumped everything, including eating. I can’t count the number of afternoons I’d go home with a headache because we didn’t have time for anything but coffee.
One fine day, I decided I’d had enough of the St. John starvation diet, so I packed a bag of peanuts into my satchel. When I got hungry, instead ignoring my growling stomach, I cracked a handful of peanuts and threw the shells on the floor.
“What do you think you’re doing?” he asked.
“I’m hungry, John,” I said. “And unless you decide it’s worth it to stop for lunch, I’m going to fill your car with peanut shells.”
He refused to clean the mess. So, did I. The peanut pile got higher and higher.
His partner accused him of riding around with an elephant. I got used to climbing over peanut shells just to get in and out his car. Finally, his partner gave in and cleaned the mess.
That day we declared a truce in the peanut wars, and he treated me to lunch at the Police Academy. One of his buddies snapped this photo of him wearing a pair of goofy glasses I had in my satchel. I love this photo because it showcased a man who could be tough as nails when it came to work but light-hearted enough to be Groucho Marx when it came to peanut shells.