Friday, October 26, 2018
I'm now hosting Tin Lizzy holiday book luncheons
One of my favorite things about working at the Tin Lizzy is pretending I own the Tin Lizzy.
This usually happens when Buck, the actual owner since 1980, is conducting bar business with some unsuspecting vendor, inspector or job applicant in one of the many unoccupied second or third floor rooms within earshot of my office.
I storm into the conversation and begin profanely berating Buck in front of the startled visitor.
“Are you pretending you’re the owner again? I told you if you keep this up I was going to fire your ass. Get back there and finish scrubbing those toilets. Now!”
I then turn to the now bewildered stranger and say, “I’m sorry about this. I’m Buck. I own the place. What can I do for you?”
Now, they don’t know what to think. They look at Buck and they look at me.
My deft lies are perfectly plausible. Unlike Buck, I’m the one who has an actual office in the building. And since I’ve been doing so many book signings and speaking engagements I often dress up. They look at me and see a man in a snazzy sports coat, nice shoes, sometimes a neck tie. I resemble a prosperous businessman, the kind of gent you’d expect to run an historic tavern/restaurant.
Then they look at Buck, an outdoorsman who enjoys spending days in the woods. They see a man who looks like he could spring off his bar stool at any minute and either gut a deer or make a toilet sparkle.
I don’t know what I enjoy more, the bewildered look on the stranger’s face or the blank one on Buck’s that leads me to believe he’s either playing along or secretly plotting to murder me and make it look like an accident.
So I have a lot of fun here. And now you’re invited to join me.
Management — the real deal — has said I’m welcome to host holiday luncheon or dinner parties in the second floor banquet room. No charge.
The last month convinced me there’s enough of a demand to reach out to groups who’d like to come see the Tin Lizzy, dine off the regular menu, and be entertained by my Arnold Palmer stories and the swashbuckling tales of my years as a seat-of-the-pants freelance writer.
I tell the story about the day National Enquirer asked me to wear a kilt around Latrobe, too, so that seat-of-the-pants bit is purely metaphorical.
Presumptuous of me? Perhaps.
But I just wrapped up my busiest month ever — 12 libraries, two banquet halls, a senior center and the hometown high school — and was ecstatic by the reaction. At every venue people have come up and said how much they enjoyed my talk and how they’d wished friends of theirs could have made it. Many have asked if they could come to the Tin Lizzy.
Yesterday I spoke to seniors ranging in age from 18 to 95. In the morning it was high school writers and in the afternoon it was senior residents at Redstone Highlands.
How’d it go? Kids were stopping my daughter in the high school hallways to say my stories cracked them up.
The more experienced seniors? The organizer said she wants me back in two weeks.
I think I’m hitting my stride.
So consider this your invitation. Any group of 5 to 18 can make arrangements through me — 724 961-2558; email@example.com — and we will set a date. Food and drink can be ordered off the menu at menu prices. My signed books will be available at cover prices. No speaker fees, no mark-ups, no gouging.
You can get a good meal, enjoy some conversation, support a local business (and its parasitic local author) and get a jolt of holiday cheer. And you can see a landmark local building with historic roots.
You might even see Buck!
What do I get out of it? I’ll make some new friends, sell some books and enjoy a cheerful little siesta. Mostly, I get a now-familiar euphoric feeling that comes from making people laugh. They cheer, they clap, they buy my books and they tell me I’m great.
And when that happens, I look around the room and feel something deeply satisfying. I’ve done something special.
I feel like you own the place.
And, believe me, I know the feeling