A quiz: Which of the three book signings over the next seven days will most likely result in me needing a designated driver?
a: City Books, tomorrow, 1 to 2 p.m., 908 Galveston Ave., North Side, Pittsburgh, for Small Business Saturday.
b: Barnes & Noble, Altoona, Thursday, December 1, 5 to 8 p.m.
c: Tin Lizzy, Friday, December 2, 5 to ?
Okay, it’s a trick question.
I should have a designated driver for all three.
“Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum and we wound up drinking all night.”
That’s a line Jimmy Buffett wrote in 1976 when I was in the 7th grade. It describes, perhaps coincidentally, something that’s happened to me on a near weekly basis since, oh, the 8th grade.
So all three book signings might lead to prudent designated driver involvement.
Of course, the Friday one’s the likeliest.
It will be Friday at the Tin Lizzy, the building that houses my office and, again perhaps coincidentally, three full-service taverns.
Sounds like a recipe for boozin’ to me!
So how did this happen?
Well, there’s lots of flattering local interest in my books. Word-of-mouth is really strong. Near daily someone is getting in touch about gift purchases.
The great thing is selling books in person is to many a social occasion.
Some friends from New Kensington ordered eight books. I thought we’d have to mail them but, wait, the husband would be in Greensburg Tuesday morning getting a fancy undercoat at TST Inc. Could I meet him at 11 a.m.?
Certainly. I figured it would be a quick howdy and catch up and I’d be home by lunch.
Wrong. He brought cigars!
So right there in the parking lot we had a good long smoke. It was wonderful.
Had either of us thought to bring a cooler we’d have both missed dinner.
You just can’t enjoy that kind of one-on-one experience with a typical PayPal transaction.
That was one of the points I tried to make with Buck, the Tin Lizzy owner and my office landlord here since July 2015.
Ours is a complicated relationship. He’s supportive of my books while being bitterly disparaging about things like my haircut and my custom of wearing the same old flannel shirt four or five days in a row.
I admire a man who sees no irony in dressing daily like a guy who’s about to gut a deer lecturing me about fashion.
But we both enjoy philosophy and believe sobriety can be an unnecessarily cruel impediment to free thinking.
Truly, I could spend all day drinking and BSing with a man like Buck, which makes me the perfect tenant for a bar owner who profits from mindsets like mine.
Still, I admit to a certain nervousness when I broached the notion of having a book signing at his bar. I wanted convincing arguments.
I told him lots of people are looking for special gifts and that signed books by a local author would be perfect. I said enthusiastic social media would help spread the word. I said how many people would use the occasion to buy books and enjoy dinner and drinks right here at the historic Tin Lizzy.
The only reason I didn’t resort to fancy pie charts was I didn’t have time to drive to the fancy pie shoppe in Laughlintown.
When I finished my presentation, I asked Buck what he thought.
“I don’t give a ‘darn’ what you do,” he said.
I’m paraphrasing his exact words because I wouldn’t want him to get in trouble with the LCB when it learns one of its licensees uses potty talk.
So I hope you’ll stop by in City Books Saturday, Altoona on Thursday, and right here at the Tin Lizzy on Friday. I’ll be stationed in Flappers on the second floor from 5 to about 9.
Buck said it was okay, too, to have a post-signing party up here on the exclusive third floor. We can make a night of it.
Oh, and about an hour after he gave the green light to my idea, I had one more question for Buck: Had he given any thought to what he’d wear Friday for my book signing?
He told me, yes, but I’m convinced it’d be impossible to artfully paraphrase the storm of profanity that greeted my question.
Let’s just say he’ll be wearing clothes.