The following story is mostly true. I always try to tell the truth. I do it all the time except for when it seems advantageous to do otherwise.
I was driving down the parkway to Pittsburgh yesterday when the phone in my pocket began tickling my hip. It was a stranger who’d read the Sunday newspaper story about me and my book, which I’ll be crayon signing tomorrow at the Greensburg Barnes & Noble from 2 to 4 p.m.
“A friend of mine said Arnold Palmer was going to be there,” said Jim. “I thought, wow, what a great opportunity. Your book sounds really fun. I could pick up some copies for friends and we could meet Arnold Palmer. What time is it?”
I told him the times and said he was mistaken. It is true that my friend Arnold Palmer, the most popular golfer of all time and one of the few Americans to win both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal -- our nation’s highest civilian awards -- had provided the gushy foreword to the book. But he’s in Orlando and won’t be back until Christmas.
I say we’re friends and that’s true. But he’s not the kind of friend who’d text me to meet him out for beers and wings or invite me to swing by to meet Queen Elizabeth, with whom he’s chummy.
But I never dreamed there’d be a day I’d be able to say my friend Arnold Palmer provided the foreword for my kooky self-help book, so who knows?
I promise if he ever texts me the Queen’s in town because she heard wings at The Pond were good and they wanted me to join them, I’ll tweet it right up.
Jim said he’s still coming and said it made his day to find an author’s phone number on his website, call it, and have the actual author pick up.
I told him I’m not like other authors.
So I set the phone down and the devious parts of my mind began to fidget.
How’d that crazy rumor get started? How many people were believing it? How could I use this to my benefit? And, gadzooks, what if it’s true?
If it was, I knew I’d need a haircut. Palmer’s made fun of me before for looking too shaggy.
I knew what I needed to do first. As soon as I could, I dashed off an e-mail to Palmer’s assistant. I wouldn’t want him thinking the rumor was something I’d concocted.
“Is Arnold Palmer flying from Orlando to Latrobe to help draw interest for my crayon book signing Saturday at the Greensburg Barnes & Noble from 2 to 4 p.m.? That would be outstanding.
“And if he's not, would you please issue a press release to every media outlet in America saying Arnold Palmer will not be attending Chris Rodell's book signing Saturday at the Greensburg Barnes & Noble from 2 to 4 p.m.?”
I knew at this point an official press release strongly denying he’d be there would draw as much attention as if he were.
My e-mail received the sarcasm-rich two-word response: “Nice try.”
I spent the next hour debating whether it would be worth my time to contact representatives for Lady Gaga, Justin Beiber, Donald Trump and Nelson Mandela to ask if they’d issue honest press releases asserting these luminaries wouldn’t be attending my book signing tomorrow at the Greensburg Barnes & Noble from 2 to 4 p.m.
I’m going to try to make it fun. I’m bringing a little bell to ring anytime someone purchases more than one copy. And I’ll have a sheet of paper where people can do a little crayon doodling while I’m signing their books.
I’m thinking of putting up a list of things I’ll do as incentives for people to purchase multiple copies. Example: “Buy 100 copies and next week I’ll clean your gutters!”
But that’ll be about it. Because, in fact, none of the mentioned stars will be attending. Neither will Palmer nor the Queen.
But I’ll be there.
If you’re not busy, I hope you will be, too.
And that’s the truth.
(Can’t make it? Tune in tomorrow at 8 a.m. to Latrobe’s 1480 WCNS-AM for a lively 30 minute interview host Dow Carnahan taped earlier this week. And the book’s available at Amazon, Barnes&Noble.com and on iTunes)
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