July 27, 2007

Tooth Holes, Parties, and Dog Poo Soup

Lordy, but it’s been all trauma and drama around here---yesterday Beautful Maisy who is barely five had her first ever cavity and I concurrently had my 19th nervous breakdown because I am a huge Dentophobe who takes valium and goes on the gas for a CLEANING. I basically have to be force fed heroin and tied down with rope if *I* have a cavity.

SO. Maisy was scared of the nitrous mask, she was scared of the drill, she HATED the novacain part, she screamed and cried and begged OH MOMMY MAKE HIM STOP and I died a thousand deaths and the dentophobe in me went to live as a gibbering shrieking mass at the back of my head, and the middle of my head was full of Feral Mommy, who was HOWLING that we needed to go leaping over the chair to rip out the throat of our perfectly delightful dentist with our teeth, and the FRONT was all Magical Person I Did Not Know Existed, who gently said things like “Hush, baby, just another minute” and “Hold on to my hands, bunny, Mommy is right here,” in low and loving dulcet tones, soothing and calm.

Afterward, I drove STRAIGHT to the movie theatre and bought us all tickets for Ratatouille --- the little bits of it I caught seemed SMART and DELIGHTFUL and ENTERTAINING, and THANK GOD, because it completely captured the minds of my children and allowed me to sit in a moist, silently sobbing heap, shaking in delayed reaction as I mentally blessed out all movie theatres for not sensibly having a martini bar next to the popcorn stand.

Weird day. The night before, I was at Karen Abbott’s very grown-up Book Bash for Sin in the Second City with adult beverages and tattooed Jazz Singers and old fashioned Fancy Ladies swaying through the crowd in corsets and enormous feathery hats.

The BOOK BASH is such a GREAT idea. The Chattahoochee Review in conjunction with A Cappella Books and Miller Beer and I BELIEVE the Decatur Book Festival Folks (LOVE THEM!) are involved too….Anyway, they do these things four times a year – a THEME party with music and entertainment centering around a book at an appropriate venue. This time it was at the Highland Inn, the downstairs of which used to OH-SO-Appropriately be a Dime a Dance hall.

The only fly in a perfect evening was the guy they got to do the intro… honestly it was BIZARRE… I have met this guy two or three times at a few literati type things around town; he works in the arts with a local college, but I’m not clear on his actual job. He was supposed to get up first, thank the sponsors, thank everyone for coming, then intro me, and I was then to get up and talk about Karen and the book for two or three minutes, then Karen would go on.

So he gets up, and he goes into this charming little three minute monolog, opening with the info that he has had six beers --- we’ve been there 90 minutes, so I think to myself, “UH OH, he must have so much alcohol in his blood that we could use it to sterilize surgical equipment,” --- but he isn’t slurring or anything, and he does a good job with the sponsors part, being funny about Miller beer and directing people to the Chattahoochee Review table. THEN he gets to the part where he is supposed to talk about Karen and her book and intro me.

Now, I have my intro PLANNED, but I am pretty flexible, you know…I am not sure what he is going to mention. So like, if he tells them Karen’s book debuted at 17 on the NYT extended list, I am going to swap out and say in MY intro that it hit the Book Sense bestseller list in its first week, too. If he talks about the great reviews, I’m going to talk about the amazing word of mouth – like that.

So he finishes his funny sponsor thanking by directing people to the Chattahoochee review table and then says, “And at the next table, our good friends at A Cappella Books are selling copies of …” and then he kinda falters, and stumbles over his words and says, “Sex and the Second…Sex and the city?” And there’s this AWKWARD pause and someone in the audience calls out, “Sin in the Second City,” and he shrugs and says, “Well. I’m not supposed to intro her, Joshilyn Jackson is doing that, so let’s do that now.”

And walks off.

No. Really.

I’m just…gobsmacked.

Because, first of all, one of the KEY things about doing intros is, you probably need to know THE TITLE OF THE FREAKIN’ BOOK. Just a thought.

VERY secondly, it’s not like I’m CHER, and all he needed to say was, “Now CHER will introduce Karen,” and expect everyone to go OH! CHER! WE KNOW WHO THAT IS! I WONDER IF HER DRESS WILL LEAVE HER PRACTICALLY NAKED? HA! IT IS CHER! OF COURSE IT WILL!

ALL he had to say was “Here’s local novelist Joshilyn Jackson,” or even, “Here’s a member of Karen’s Writing group,” or SOMETHING that gave the crowd a vague idea of why I was standing up there and yapping at them. It was just – ugh. So I went up and the crowd is kinda LOOKING at me, like, “Um, who the heck are you again? And why do we have to listen to you? We were hoping for CHER, or at least THE AUTHOR WE CAME TO HEAR…” Just a very awful and sick-making feeling.

So I had little jokes and whatnot planned and I could pretty much say my intro exactly as I had planned it since he said NOTHING about the book – including *cough* THE TITLE or THE AUTHOR’S NAME. So that was good, and I kept it SHORT and got the HECK out of there, and Karen came on. She has just BLOOMED into a public speaker so quickly – she talks all SMART and FUNNY so they LOVED her and it turned out okay, but MAN.

At first, I wasn’t mad. “Six beers!” I thought, “Well, that’s unprofessional to get blasted at a book event where you know you have to speak…so when he blew the title he probably felt like a moron and fled without introing me. I might have too; that must be very flustering. Poor guy.” But later he told a friend of mine who was present that he doesn’t actually drink. At all. He hadn’t had six beers. He had had NO beers. The party wore on, and he never came up to Karen and apologized.

I reassessed and decided I was actually enraged.

If he was SOBER, and NOT AT ALL SORRY, then it wasn’t some hammered dude blowing the name of the book and fleeing fast in embarrassment. He was sending a message: I AM HOSTING THIS PARTY AND THANKING THE SPONSORS AND THE PARTY MAY BE NOMINALLY FOR SOME GIRL WHO WROTE SOME DUMB BOOK BUT LETS NOT FORGET WHO IS IMPORTANT HERE: ME. OH, AND THE SPONSORS. If he was sober, then the only point was to make us feel small.

I didn’t really need his help.
I AM small.
I know I am small.
Karen didn’t need his help, either. She knows she is small, too.

You want to see big? Let me introduce you to GHANDI. See also, Mother Theresa, President Lincoln, Martin Luther, Martin Luther King, King Tut, and Jerry Bruckheimer. You want to just look at publishing? J.K Rowling…that’s big.

I don’t even matter in this equation because, you know, I was just there to celebrate the much deserved success of one of my closest friends and have a little sip of free wine and have fun. So, whatever, I had an awkward 30 seconds. I have recovered. But I can’t stop being mad about the TITLE thing. Even though I think Karen’s going to have a tremendously successful career, and even though she began her career as a published author beautifully, the book came out two weeks ago. So she doesn’t need HELP to feel small and lost or new and skinless.

I do know that in the grand scheme of things EVERYONE is small. Look at the freakin’ night sky and consider time and history, and even the unbreakable Harry Potter gets specklike. BUT! There are nights – for ALL of us --- when we should GET to be made a fuss of, when we should GET to be the princess and be toasted and feted and made much of.
Your birthday, for example.
Your golden anniversary.
Your graduation.
Or your book launch party in your hometown.

Oh well--- nothing to be done. There are people like that all over the world---who just HAVE to put dog poo in your soup to make themselves feel better. If I WAS J.K. Rowling, I would write the organizers and sponsors and thank them for what was otherwise a STELLAR event, but suggest that they get someone to do the intros who can get over himself long enough to correctly say the book’s title. But I’m small, as I have recently been reminded, so I won’t. KAREN can’t either, because she doesn’t want to complain to people who went SO far to launch her properly here at home in Atlanta and who, one ugly 20 seconds aside, did a superlative job.

But, you know, in the same way I tend to remember the one crit in a rave review while forgetting the good parts, in the same way a friend once told me she remembers the shirt she wore and what she was eating for breakfast on the one morning her mother lost it and called her stupid while she can't recall the specifics of a single one of the thousand times her mom said she was lovely, smart, talented, good---I suspect that 20 seconds is going to stick with me. Most likely in my craw. It is, after all, what I found myself blogging about this morning.

Posted by joshilyn at July 27, 2007 7:38 AM

Gggrrrr....I'd like to see you write some notes to those sponsors. Because what he did blows chunks. Don't the sponsors need to hear it from someone? I want to call him some Very Bad Names right now, but I won't. Instead I will hope that Karen's new book and all future books are HUGELY successful, and will wish the same for you, and then someday when a party comes up and you find out StupidLittleDickGuy is scheduled to do the intro you will both have the clout to say politely "Oh no, I'm sorry, but I can't possibly allow that jerkwad to in any way represent me in public. Please get someone else to do it."

Poor Miss Maisy and Poor Miss Maisy's mommy. I SO get the dentist thing, I really do. I'm way overdue for a check-up right now and keep putting it off because it freaks me so much. And I'm way older than 5!!! You sound like you did SO good with her, Joss.

BTW, I hope you get to see Ratatouille at some point in the future when you can watch it for real. It's a lovely story.

Posted by: DebR at July 27, 2007 8:02 AM

I think that guy works here. Seriously. This guy did a similar thing to one of our authors at the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame ceremony. He was only supposed to intro but went on and on about HIS accomplishments. Fortunately, Ferrol Sams put him in his place and brought down the house. And I have it on DVD so I can relive every delicious moment. That guy will get his. Karma's a bitch.

Posted by: Leandra at July 27, 2007 8:51 AM


What an idiot. Maybe he feels really small and stupid?

We can hope.

Posted by: Lisa at July 27, 2007 9:12 AM

"There are people like that all over the world---who just HAVE to put dog poo in your soup to make themselves feel better."

That is so true. I'm sorry the event was marred by one guy's behavior.

Posted by: Jessalyn at July 27, 2007 9:26 AM

Surely A Capella books noticed (and remembered) that he didn't even know or pretend to care about the name of the book they were promoting. Maybe they'll take care of that next time and refuse to allow him to participate. If it is the same guy that Leandra referred to, then someone is noticing. Once, maybe give him the benefit of the doubt. Twice? Has to be intentional. It WILL rebound on him, whether you ever know about it or not.

Posted by: Deborah P at July 27, 2007 10:21 AM

There's a new cinema in Asheville that not only serves martinis, but will bring them to you in your seat as you watch the movie, along with decent finger foods, a nice bottle of wine, etc. Heaven!

I have a child who screams bloody murder as the dentist has him in a headlock to work on his tiny teeth and it makes me feel ill for hours afterwards. I do exactly what you did--pretend I don't want to rip the dentist's throat out for hurting my baby.

Posted by: Edgy Mama at July 27, 2007 10:30 AM

I had a whole long response written in my head -- but DebR already said it. So... what that lovely lady in the first comment said, times two.

Posted by: Aimee at July 27, 2007 10:34 AM

One day Karen will be lunching with other famous writers, recounting how when her first book came out the intro guy totally flubbed it and made everyone feel small & uncomfortable. And Jo will say, "That bloke? He got his." And Joss will pour another glass of wine for everyone.

I hope it becomes a story legends are made of.

Also, based on comments, I might be moving to Asheville soon - just for the movie theater.

Posted by: Catherine at July 27, 2007 11:08 AM

Thanks for the well wishes, everyone! And I do think karma will get this guy--sooner rather than later. Joss and I are having a loonnnggg chat with Ms. Karma this weekend. Operation Dog Poo Soup goes into effect soon.

Posted by: Karen Abbott at July 27, 2007 11:26 AM

Oh, my. Words fail me.

I believe in Ms. Karma, and I am not at all worried about that guy getting his. Preferably in a way that lands him on America's Funniest Home Videos, doubled over and moaning.

Congratulations (again) to Karen! May this be the very worst thing that happens in conjunction with the start of a very fruitful career!

Posted by: Mir at July 27, 2007 11:35 AM

All I can say is Oy! Oh, and this... I agree with you that Karen has blossomed into a fabulous public speaker practically overnight. I saw it happen right before my very eyes while she was on tour here in Chicago. She spoke to crowds of hundreds and they loved her, hung on her every word!

Posted by: Renee Rosen at July 27, 2007 11:44 AM

Actually, I didn't mean seriously seriously that I thought it was the same guy. I meant like Grey's Anatomy seriously. But still, hopefully somebody IS noticing what a jerk that guy was at your event.

Posted by: Leandra at July 27, 2007 11:55 AM

Yes, well, evidently they liked KAREN well enough to hold an entire book event based around her new novel complete with fancy ladies in feathers and a suitable setting. . .Mr. Schmo only got 30 seconds in the lime-light and bit the dust. But it's the equivalent of someone asking when your baby is due when you're not pregant. It only takes a minute (or less) to make a REALLY bad impression.

Posted by: Roxanne at July 27, 2007 12:28 PM

I'm in the crowd that knows this will make a great story in the future for best selling authors Karen Abbott and Josilyn Jackson. Both will recount the story countless times on national convention panels to break the ice and remind us all in the grand scheme of things that dog poo soup exist.

Posted by: Cele at July 27, 2007 12:42 PM

We have a theater here in Charlotte that offers wine and martinis. And there are these BIG RED LEATHER recliners..... It's loverly.

That guy will get his.

Posted by: Autumn at July 27, 2007 12:50 PM

My tummy is doing flip-flops for you and Maisy. I am such a dentophobe, and I can't even have the gas for a cleaning anymore. Get this, it gave me an ANXIETY ATTACK. Sheesh.

I've had alot of work done lately on a stupid tooth (the crown that would not stay on), and every time, would come home, cry, pop a vicodin, and sleep the rest of the day. I'll spare you the details of one of the assistants from Hell (but it's on my blog).

(((((Joshilyn & Maisy))))))

Posted by: Angel at July 27, 2007 2:50 PM

Oh man. I wish I had been there instead of doing KIDTHINGS.
I have been guessing all day as to WHO it was.. the dude.. I have a few ideas-- as I know some of the locals as well-- care to elaborate, or shall we start a poll?
BTW talked my book club that loved YOUR books into doing Sara's book-- need to ad karen to the list-- and WOW- is she that beautiful in person?

Posted by: linda at July 27, 2007 5:21 PM

I THOUGHT my last dentist was a nice guy, until he gave me a crown that made it so my teeth in the front won't meet anymore . . . then, when I complained, tried to drill away bits of perfectly good teeth around it to make it work. When it didn't work, he got pissy with ME for daring to complain again. Grrr.

I wish those martini theaters would make their way to my area, they'd do a lot to help me (temporarily) forget all the weenies in the world.

It is true (and a bummer) how we'll remember the little things that hurt us deeply forever and ever, and all the little GOOD things aren't nearly so memorable. But poo soup plotting helps.

Posted by: Brigitte at July 28, 2007 6:28 AM

I think we should all take Dog-Poo-Six-Beers boy on a field trip to Chateau Rootcanalio for a loooooong afternoon.

I am in love with the kiddie dentist we found out here. They deal with special needs children, and have grape-scented nitrous. And every time my daughter has to get her teeth cleaned, the dentist lady sings to her throughout. They are so kind they make me cry.

Posted by: Cornelia Read at July 28, 2007 2:13 PM

I must tell you my craw is full as well.I'm the one you burst at with 'call me Joss not Josh!!'. I'm not over it, won't be. I thought you funny, urbane, smart. Now think tedious and simple. I've been a huge fan. And simply didn't know the pronunciation. My bad. Your bad too.

Posted by: pam at July 28, 2007 2:40 PM

Wow. I have no idea how to respond to this. I wish you had left an email addy...

I'll try. If I was calling you Pim, and it bugged you, I would hope you would tell me it was actually Pam instead of letting me call you a name that you do not like.

Also, you were NOT the "1" --- About 5 or 6 people called me Josh, you were the LAST, so had you had seen other people do it and thought it was correct. It was aimed LEAST at you, and in fact was not a gun and not meant to AIMED at all. I was just asking my la peeps here not to call me Josh. Period.

I don't understand how telling an entire group of folks who SEE the name and do not ever hear it how to correctly pronounce my name is mean. I never meant it as mean. I never felt the slightest bit of ill will or anger or cruelty toward you, or anyone, over it.

I'm...flabbergasted that my explanation of how to say my name hit you as so...aimed at you. It wasn't. I was just setting the record straight --- for a lot of people.

I hope the FTK regs here in the comments will NOT respond to you angrily -- please guys. Leave her be. She took it hard and seems genuinely upset. Do not pick at her.

Posted by: Joshilyn at July 28, 2007 4:17 PM

That's terrible! At least every thing else went smoothly and it sounds like you had a good time in spite of everything.

Posted by: aka nik at July 29, 2007 11:25 AM

You ARE like Cher, of course. I personally often just say "Joshilyn Jackson" as if every thinking person should have heard of you, which is my general attitude. BUT...it sounds like a lousy 24 hours. Poor Maisy, Maisy's Mom, and too bad for the idiot, because, you know, he is probably just jealous of all the attention you and Karen deservedly get.

Posted by: Laura Florand at July 31, 2007 12:36 PM

We had a guy at a newspaper conference recently do that to us. He spoke to us under the ruse that he "would challenge our thoughts and ideas" which in jerk speak turned out to mean "I'm going to act like a big snob and make you all feel very tiny."
I'm still not over it. I want to write him an email. It's just a cruddy way to behave.
Glad you wrote this post.

Posted by: timmi at July 31, 2007 7:03 PM

Oh WAH! I know that the dentist scene is in my future, I have to take my son back to the dentist because they think maaaaybe he miiiight have a cavity, but they couldn't tell since they couldn't get the pokey-looking counter tool anywhere near his person to count his teeth or get a good look at them. They did polish him though... so we're going back to move forward by itsy-bitsy steps.

I heart that you so earnestly wanted to rip the throat out of the dentist. That's going to be me, I know it. Imagine! Hurting my baby!!

I once had a dentist say "I'm just going to squirt a little water in your mouth" and then he gave me a big ol' needle. I clamped my mouth shut and he was nevermore allowed near it. We lived in the boonies and from that day on we drove three hours, one way, to go to the dentist.

Oh. And you do matter. You do.

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