This week I interviewed a very charming, very smart and pretty famous man for a magazine profile I am writing. From my research, I also knew he could be ruthless in his work and inspired fear in those who opposed him.
Back in the day, this sort of thing made me nervous, but one advantage of being older and experienced is that much of that anxiety has dissipated. My subject was brilliant and accomplished, but in the end, a fellow human being.
Before we settled down, his flack (publicity person) had been chatting about a safari that Famous Man had taken, his wife's many accomplishments, and also pointing out various awards and photos in his office. We all sat, and I started my two recordings (I may not be anxious during interviews, but I'm compulsive about having technological backups) and the flack set up hers.
Suddenly and before I asked my first question, Famous Man said, "I want to show you something." He took out his iPad and showed me a photo of himself standing behind an absolutely huge African tortoise.
"Isn't that great?" he asked.
I responded with my usual articulateness: "Wow. That's big."
Here's what I need advice about: I keep wondering why he showed me that photo. He didn't show me any others. Although the safari had come up earlier, so had many other things. Don't you think that tortoise is a metaphor - and a message? It seemed really clear when he handed over his iPad, but now I'm struggling. A metaphor of what? Was he letting me know I will never know the true him, because he is so well protected? He'll only show me a very tiny bit of who he actually is? He has armor on his back? He's a survivor?
Or maybe I'm just pushing it. But please feel free to weigh in if you can think of any useful interpretations. Thanks!