July 20, 2009

With Aplomb (part 2)

You want to start HERE with part one.

SO there is this fellow I know, an ON THE SCENE guy, well imbedded in the Atlanta arts community. He’s a writer, and quite a talented one. I have worked with him on a couple of local literati events and I think highly of him and I have a good deal of professional respect for him. We are going to call him....William.

On Thursday, my friend Daren Wang had asked me to come speak at a very cool event sponsored by The Decatur Book Festival. 100 Atlanta Area book clubs came together for wine and desert and book-talk. I spoke on a panel with Emily Giffin and Susan Rebecca White.

I didn’t know Susan, but she turned out to be charming and I have her debut in my TO READ pile---the SHORT pile, by the bed, with about five books I shall read this summer in order of my random mood. That location is an indication that I am pretty excited about Bound South. I DO have ANOTHER to read pile, well, not a PILE so much as a slough pit of books I MAY read that is fermenting itself into a slum and the older books are no doubt breeding dirty little feral Dickensian orphan-type book babies that forming up into gangs and planning to perpetrate crime upon the tidily boxed city of abandoned VHS movies.

Giffen’s books are ones I buy reliably in hardback because I can never QUITE wait for PB. If you’ve never read her, I THINK this is my favorite, but there isn’t really a bad place to start—they are all good. (Except do NOT start with SOMETHING BLUE – it is a SEQUEL and I have this weird THING about sequels – like, if you do not read sequential books in order the universe collapses. SO if you want to read SOMETHING BLUE it is imperative for the safety of the planet and life on earth that you read SOMETHING BORROWED first.)

Emily herself is LOVELY, but she is---to ME anyway---a tiny bit intimidating. She’s so...PRETTY and TOGETHER. She tells her hair what SHE WANTS IT TO DO, and then HER HAIR GOES AND DOES THAT. Not fathomable. She seems to know instinctively which color of gloss looks good with her complexion. She understands ACCESSORIES.

Me, I have very few girl skills. But knowing I was going to sit by Emily and not wanting to look like a BAG LADY, I did RADICAL THINGS, things I had not done in MONTHS such as put in contacts. I even deployed a team of paleontologists to execute a dig under my sink, hoping to unearth my liquid eyeliner. Not only did I PUT A PRODUCT INTO MY HAIR post shower, but I then BLEW IT DRY. Like a grown up. It was very exciting.

Also, ---THANKS BETTER U!---- I found this week that I can fit back in a BUNCHA clothes I have not been able to squeeze into since BOOK TOUR, and so I got dressed in something I used to LOVE that always used to make me feel confident.

SO I go to the event early, and I am hanging with my friend Tom and I am feeling QUITE pretty, for me. I have on a fitted blue T and a skirt that is flippy and swirly and I have on ballet flats instead of heels so I am unlikely (or, less likely, anyway) to trip and I am ABOUT to publicly speak which means my energy and nerve levels are both high. I am a little....SPINNY. A little TWIRLY and GASPY and UP and CHEERFUL. Maybe the TEENIST BIT spazzy. *cough* In other words, I am AMPED UP. To eleven.

I see my friend William (This is NOT his name. His name is GEORGE.) and I go over to say HI, and he says “Oh I want you to meet a colleague of mine who will be working with us on this workshop you are going to teach,” and he turns to call over a guy standing nearby just as my friend Tom says my name behind me, so he turns and I turn and I am feeling a pretty and SPINNY, so my turn is VERY quick and light, meant to allow me the pleasure of feeling my skirt swirl around my knees, and my arms extend out a little from my body, palm forward, fingers slightly curled into a cup, and I turn and William turns and there is a...convergence.

My hand converges with William in a place where my hand has absolutely NO BUSINESS converging.

Let me be more explicit.

My hand converges with William in THREE places my hand has absolutely no business converging.

This is NOT a VIOLENT or painful intersection of my hand and....William. It is also not a glancing or grazing or BRUSHING PAST where I would not even notice, or where I would assume my palm had met, say, his THIGH, and just say OH SCUSE ME and go on. No, it’s a perfect tab A slot B meeting, and therefore, though BRIEF, it is INCREDIBLY OBVIOUS to both of us what has just converged with whom's whatnots. And we kinda both LEAP BACKWARDS out of our skins and stare at each other and our abandoned skins turn the color of RADISHES and the friend he was calling over to introduce has SEEN this, clearly he has witnessed the convergence because his mouth has dropped open and his eyes are as round and wide as ripe figs.


And William says, “Joshilyn, meet Steve.” (This is not his real name. His real name is CLAY.) and I say hi, and then William says, “Steve is A LOT more excited to meet you than he was, say, 2 minutes ago.”


Well I had ALREADY died. But I died AGAIN. But at least it got me laughing.

I told known hellcat and reprobate Karen Abbott (who is friends with William) later this whole story and BECAUSE she is Karen Abbott of COURSE the first question out of her mouth was, “So, tell me, do you think William’s wife is a happy woman?” I said, “I would say so. Emphatically.” She laughed and said, “How badly do you wish you DID NOT KNOW THAT?” And I said, “Fervently. I SO wish I did not know that.” There are things you want to know about people you work with, and things you really do not. This is B. Especially since I am sure to see this guy again VERY soon, at the DBF.

I am wondering how to greet him. Karen has offered me A THOUSAND DOLLARS to walk straight up to him and greet him by saying, “HEY DUDE! HOW THEY HANGING?” But I think that money is safe safe safe in her bank.

Next book event, I plan to dump wine on someone at the START of the evening, and have done.

Posted by joshilyn at July 20, 2009 9:50 AM

You can't make this stuff up..... That is fabulous!

Posted by: chandler at July 20, 2009 10:15 AM

Oh, thank you so much for sharing that. I hope the whole situation is made better by the fact that you just made someone's day brighter with laughter.

I think I would have died as well, but, hey - at least you have a blog on which to share this great story.

Posted by: Jessie at July 20, 2009 10:43 AM

Heh ... "Clay" ... oh - there are SO MANY PLACES that name can go.

Totally giggling - with you!

Posted by: Mit at July 20, 2009 10:43 AM

Funny funny funny!

Posted by: elizabeth at July 20, 2009 10:51 AM

Bwah! Oh my GOD. I think I would have pulled my twirly skirt up over my head, because I would rather have someone see my underpants than my face after that. It does make for a VERY funny story, though, and for that I am grateful.

Posted by: Aimee at July 20, 2009 11:10 AM

Thank you! This was so worth postponing grading papers. My whole week will be better... :D

Posted by: JulieB at July 20, 2009 11:15 AM

At least his name wasn't Dick or Peter.

Posted by: Ray at July 20, 2009 11:25 AM

Love it! Bless your heart, dear. Bless your little pea pickin' heart.

Posted by: kudzuhomecomingqueen at July 20, 2009 11:37 AM

OH. MY. That just made my Monday. Not that you were humiliated....just that that stuff happens to other people too. Yipes.

And I am so glad to see that the DBF is on Labor Day weekend this year! Do you know when you are speaking? I heard you read and speak last year but I couldn't stay due to bored and hot children and husband outside. This year I want to be prepared so I can hang out the whole time, using ice cream for bribery if necessary. Thanks.

Congrats on your better u!

Posted by: Beth at July 20, 2009 11:39 AM

Too funny. I wish there were blog pix attached?!
But, good for you to handle it with grace...oh. did I say handle it.... am now running down list of local male authors...
the few clues you've given to his identity should make this an interesting quest. heh heh.

Posted by: linda sands at July 20, 2009 11:59 AM

So this morning I had to wake up at the ungodly hour of 5AM to take a friend back to the airport and along the way the transmission in my car,the VERY SAME transmission that was just put into my car after it broke going to the VERY SAME airport just two months earlier, that transmission started going out. So unable to drive at the intended speed we got her to the airport a little late, she was the last person on the plane and made it to her destination, but her luggage didn't. Meanwhile I was renting a car and then drove that car home, following my boyfriend in my car fully expecting during the entire hour drive to see the transmission fall from the car and have to go into evasive maneuvers. Once I finally reached home I had to go directly to the office.

My morning has been, to put it bluntly - THE SUCK. But you have managed to make me grin maniacally at your story. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Posted by: Courtney at July 20, 2009 12:00 PM

Many congratulations on your successes! Fitting into pretty clothes is the best reason to become trimmer for me. Health? It is to laugh. Why would I want to live longer if I couldn't fit into pretty clothes?

I have taken a few days off from paying attention (in a conscientious way) to my food choices. Instead, I enjoyed Dove miniatures and blueberry pie. And just eating when I felt like it and stopping when I felt like it, instead of being all good. But now I MUST be good again, because, talking to my Mom last night, I discovered that SHE has been losing weight! I cannot be the fattest person at Christmas! I may be the heaviest, because I am bigger than all the other women in my family, but I must LOOK good, at all costs.

As ignoble incentives go, I know this must rank high, but whatever gets me going in the right direction, I shall use.

Posted by: Diane (TT) at July 20, 2009 12:01 PM

You know, this story was just as funny to read as it was to hear over the phone. And again I say: IT COULD ONLY HAPPEN TO YOU. Heh.

Posted by: Mir at July 20, 2009 12:09 PM

I think the wine thing on the plane is far worse. And that was ages ago.

This...this could have happened to anyone! You're fine. Really, Peaches. No worries at all.

P.S. Congrats on fitting into the twirly skirt.

Posted by: Jen at July 20, 2009 12:10 PM

It would certainly take more..ahem, cojones..than I have to follow through with Karen's suggestion, but I think you're cool enough to pull it off. To rise to the occasion as it were.

Posted by: Carrie (in MN) at July 20, 2009 12:10 PM

*gasp* *choke* I can't breathe!

My daughter is annoyed because I'm laughing so loudly she cannot hear her movie. At least, I'm laughing when I'm not gasping for breath.

There's a woman who is a very big deal in my little town (and who I have an immense amount of respect for), and I ran into her at the United Way about six months ago and ... accidentally, I swear ... grabbed her boob. Solidly. I could still feel it hours later. She was very gracious and pretended it didn't happen, but dang it all ... I did it again the very next time I saw her!

I won't bother telling that story though. Can't touch yours!

Posted by: Katrina Stonoff at July 20, 2009 12:10 PM

Don't we all wish someone had videotaped this "not so little" incident?!

I am Howling!

Do, however, read Bound South; picked it up @ Alabama Booksmith and it is a fantastic read.

Posted by: Kim at July 20, 2009 12:20 PM

I have tears rolling down my face! I am in awe of not only your ability to come so close to social suicide, but then to make us laugh so hard when you tell the story! Genius.

Posted by: Sharon at July 20, 2009 1:00 PM

Oh, dear. Oh dear oh my oh dear - poor dear!! And yet - at least you got a fabulous story out of it!

I met Susan Rebecca White at the Virginia Festival of the Book this year - she read from Bound South and I fell in love based on her reading and bought the book and had her sign it and then smothered her in praise about her reading and about YOU and told her she had to read all of your books because they were delicious and she'd love them.

Posted by: Jen A at July 20, 2009 1:04 PM

Oh my God! I can not stop laughing!! THANK YOU for this little, er, not so little, Monday pick-me-up, er, um, funny story.

And congrats on fitting into the swirly skirt again. But maybe you should check your surroundings before doing anymore twirling in public.

(yep, still laughing)

Posted by: JenniferG at July 20, 2009 1:10 PM

Instead of remembering that little tid-bit from the evening, just remember you were the only author to get multiple cat calls and wild applause; not that the others aren't worthy, just that, apparently, your fans really, really do like you. Or just used their drink tickets early, take your pick.

Posted by: Tequila Cookie Chris at July 20, 2009 1:49 PM

Oh my... is it possible to laugh a Starburst out your nostril...I believe that is what just happened... Feel you not alone, for I am also this way in public. And at 6'1" (since sixth grade) there is NO HIDING... :0)

Posted by: Heather Porterfield at July 20, 2009 3:07 PM

That made my day -- possibly even my week. I will have to say that as I got to the, er climax, of the story, I had to turn away and gather my strength. I could tell what was coming, and I get very nervous for other people when I know they are going to be embarrassed. I don't mind embarrassing myself, because sadly I am rather good at it, but I hate for other people to be embarrassed.

Like I said, I don't mind embarrassing myself, so I would probably take Karen up on that bet. Hey, a thousand bucks is a lot of money! You know everyone who knows will be thinking about it, and it would be a great way to break the ice and just get it out of the way and move on.

Posted by: Lori at July 20, 2009 3:12 PM

Thank you thank you for a badly needed Monday morning-laugh-till-I-cried-and-then-continued laughing-until-I-choked-myself respite from my own version of "The Office". My co-cubicle workers are now thinking I have the funnest job of anyone since I laugh laugh laugh while I work!! (Really I'm working!! I'm WORKING!;)

As editor of a local newspaper, I once turned a respectable classified ad offering a 5th wheel trailer with hitch to a 5th wheel trailer with ...well, you know. 5000 copies distributed to our local community, 50% of whom are the hitch owners' staunch Christian relatives.

Also, once photoged VIPS standing in front of a large sign where the word PUBLIC had the "L" obscured by said VIP.

We must all go flushed and flustered into the world at times. May we at least go with flippy skirts!! ;)

Posted by: GLory Words at July 20, 2009 3:23 PM

College fund. You really should do it, for Sam and Maisy.

Posted by: elizabeth at July 20, 2009 4:32 PM

I am so embarrassed. I get so embarrassed for people in embarrassing stories. At least you KNEW the guy you fondled.

Posted by: Nikki at July 20, 2009 4:36 PM

Fabulous. And do keep wearing the swirly skirt...

Posted by: Liz at July 20, 2009 5:05 PM

So you touched a collegue's package...

It's not like you ate a baby.

: )

Posted by: Avallia at July 20, 2009 5:22 PM

Look on the bright side - if it had been a "violent intersection" it would surely have laid him out flat on the floor, thereby calling far more attention to the incident. Yep, waaaay better to have fondled. There's your silver lining!

Posted by: Kitty at July 20, 2009 5:55 PM

There isn't much that will get any kind of response out of my teenage son but yet you do more often than I do. Thanks for the story.

When I was 13 and out where no young girl should have been I fell and as a natural reflex I reached out and grabbed for something on the way down. My hand landed right on the family jewels. I cried so hard from emberassment that my boyfriend thought I was really hurt.

Thanks yet again for the laugh.

Posted by: Linda J at July 20, 2009 7:43 PM

I am crying. Actually crying, I'm laughing so hard. And snorting.

You don't have to say "how they hanging" next time you see him. All you have to do is extend your hand juuuust a little slower when you reach out to shake hands. Bet he flinches.

Posted by: Sandi at July 20, 2009 8:49 PM

I still think the wine incident is worse, because there is NO WAY she would have enjoyed it even a teeny bit.

Posted by: PattiH at July 20, 2009 9:16 PM

I'm sure that he's glad that you said that his wife is happy :P

Posted by: Heather at July 20, 2009 10:34 PM

I am very fortunate that you blogged about the BetterU program. If I had not protected my heart by losing weight, decreasing my girth to less than 35", and walking, there might have been a tragedy in my living room when I read that blog entry. Nose wine, anyone?

I wonder if, elsewhere on the 'net, William/George is writing HIS blog entry, "How to Tell When a Famous Author REALLY Likes You." I am also reminded of an older movie in which the main character does something Socially Awkward at a party in NYC, and it becomes the New Trend in social greetings. Thank heavens you did that in Georgia, where people have some sense! (But don't be surprised if it shows up as the new greeting in NYC anyway.)

And Katrina Stonoff, thanks for the second helping of nose wine. Hee!


Posted by: JMixx at July 20, 2009 11:28 PM

Oog. Tears in my eyes, both from the hilarity, and because you made me remember my long-repressed similar incident from 8th grade. Shudder!

Posted by: Brigitte at July 21, 2009 7:06 AM

1 - I would totally ask, “HEY DUDE! HOW THEY HANGING?” for FREE.

2 - I accidently groped my son's waterski instructor when the instructor made the boat do a sharp turn I wasn't expecting. Dave (the instructor) is in college, I'm ... not.

Posted by: Mrs. Robinson at July 21, 2009 1:13 PM

I will have a front row seat at your DBF session to see if you take Karen's bet. And move Susan's book to the top of your stack-I caught her at MMH's book launch along with her horde of family & book/dinner/church groups and I've given it to several people as gifts. Spot on dialouge and an opening chapter to die for!

Posted by: Bridget at July 21, 2009 4:08 PM

you made me laugh. Oh, I love you.

Posted by: diana at July 21, 2009 7:51 PM

My friend posted on Facebook the other day that she had tripped getting out of a car, fell gloriously and tremendously causing her skirt to fly high in the air and her knee to be scraped. She was completely humiliated. I posted a link to your blog, which made her laugh and feel much better.

Just think of your social faux pas as a ministry for helping other people feel better about their embarrassing moments. I myself am in the ministry of making others feel better about their housekeeping skills. We all must do our part.

Posted by: Lori at July 22, 2009 9:54 AM

Definitely take Karen's bet!!!! It's a perfect response and highly bank-friendly.

Posted by: Lori P at July 22, 2009 2:50 PM

I just wish I hadn't put on non-waterproof mascara this morning and then decided to quick read your blog before doing other things. I have been laughing until my mascara has run. I'm late now and must go start over on the makeup. And it is worth it.
--Leslie in Hiawatha

Posted by: Leslie Noon at July 23, 2009 10:47 AM