May 28, 2012

May 28, 2012

Meet the Authors

Went to a couple of author events recently: one at a Barnes & Noble for Jen Lancaster, the other at Sixth & I synagogue for Joel Stein. I enjoy both authors enough to brave the hell that is other people to see them in person.

Because oh DANG.

Let’s start with Jen’s event at B&N. No tickets or wristbands or anything. The event started at 7, so I showed up around 6:15. A significant number of people were already there, of which one was male. Understandable; Jen’s work skews female. No prob.

I sit down in an empty seat in the last row and pull out my Kindle. For I too can emulate the Aloof City Dweller! I’m nose-deep in my book when a group of four large women who I shall dub the Drunky McDrunkersons sit next to me. They loudly chat amongst themselves before sending one to the café to get everyone iced teas. And (assumption on my part) spike them.

The woman next to me was the worst. Wearing the sort of garish makeup and jewelry indicative of one whose best self was 20 years and 40 pounds ago. At one point, she put her iced tea on the floor, and then put her giant purse directly on top of it. Since my stuff was safely out of the way, I was prepared to amuse myself as her beverage slowly pooled onto the B&N carpet and her shoes. Sadly, one of her friends noticed and the situation was cleaned up. And by “cleaned up,” I mean that Drunk Lady smooshed the iced tea puddle further into the carpet with her shoe. Just as Mr. Clean intended.

Once the event started, though, everyone calmed down and I enjoyed listening to Jen read and take questions from the audience. The last part of the event was the booksigning portion. Now, you may not be aware, but B&N is Puritanically strict about this. The only thing you can get signed is a copy of the specific book being discussed at the event, and only with proof that you bought that book from B&N. Now, I myself had already read my local library’s copy of said book, so I just wanted to snap a picture of Jen. The B&N Lackey-In-Charge had told us, and I quote, “You can take pictures during the book signing.” Thus my plan to, y’know, take pictures during the book signing.

Do you hear ominous foreshadowing? You should.

Those with books start lining up. In B&N’s defense, the line is very clearly marked. Jen goes to the signing table to get ready. I stand near (but not in) the line to get my picture. The setup looks a bit like this:

I start taking pictures, messing with the zoom and focus, aiming for just one good shot of Jen sitting at the table preparing to sign books.

At which point the B&N Lackey-In-Charge whooshes towards me and we have this exchange:

B&N LIC: “Sorry, no pictures.”

Me: “…what? No pictures?” (Didn’t you say earlier that we could take pictures during the book signing, which THIS IS?)

B&N: “No, no pictures. You can take a picture once you get up there.”

The joke’s on her, though, because I totally got the picture:

Now, to be clear, I didn’t want to get a picture of myself AND Jen. Just of her. I don’t see how it matters where that picture is taken from. WHEN that picture is taken from, sure. I obeyed the rule about not recording or photographing during the reading itself. But now? During the book signing portion during which we had been told pictures were allowed? Fair effing game, lady.

Honestly, if one of the people in the line had called me out, I would have been more acquiescent. They perhaps had some standing for complaint, since they were all waiting in the line to get signatures and pictures and stuff. But they either didn’t notice or didn’t care that I was taking pictures.

Jeez.

And then, a few days later, at the Joel Stein event, whilst minding my own business in a little folding chair, I realized that the chick behind me had her feet up on the back of my chair. Of the 200 people in 200 folding chairs, one person had the immaturity to kick back and it was the chick DIRECTLY BEHIND ME.

I took a passive aggressive route and started randomly leaning my chair back and startling her. I was secretly hoping she’d make a comment, so I could ask whether she was disabled physically, mentally, or both. Because the way she was sitting appeared so uncomfortable, it had to be one of the three.

(As the event wrapped up, I looked back at her and noticed that her boyfriend was maybe a 2. I consider TheBoy a solid 8. I win.)

But lest I despair that humanity is filled with nothing but assholes, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. During Joel’s Q&A, someone asked him who the greatest man was. (I won’t get into the details behind the question; suffice to say it does tie into the theme of his book.) He was at a loss. Chick sitting in front of me raises her hand, ostensibly with another question. Joel calls on her.

Chick: I would say, George Plimpton.

(Rest of crowd turns to neighbor and asks wtf that is.)

Chick: I mean, he was such a Renaissance man. Author, athlete…

(Joel goes into a story about how he attended an amazing party hosted by George Plimpton.)

Joel: But I’m sorry, you had a question of your own to ask.

Chick: No, I just wanted to answer that one.

Only in DC, people. Only in DC.

(Having read the Wikipedia article on Plimpton, I guess I can see the point. He appears to have been an author, actor, and athlete. But he also died in 2003. So if we extend the candidate pool to all men who have lived ever, I’d have to go with Da Vinci, the original Renaissance Man.)

(When I have book signing events some day, you all are invited. But no one else. These people can buy my books, but they must never enter my presence again lest I go all John McClane on them.)

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