The sentimentalist and the crass self-promoter within me were at war as we drove to meet the 80-year-old widow who’d written me a gushy fan letter.
My friend Mark is her financial advisor. He usually buys 30 copies of my latest book and gives them to clients at Christmas.
This year he gave Charlotte a signed copy of my Fred Rogers book. Well, she just loved it and in her thank you note — how endearing — said my stories were hysterical, that I was her new favorite writer and included other compliments that in a bygone era would have lead me to conclude impure thoughts were justified.
So I sent her a “Crayons!” book and she just loved i, too. We began to correspond by mail — again, endearing!
I thought with the new book out it’d be a good time to surprise her. Mark agreed and yesterday we drove to her Greensburg home.
It occurred to me the surprise visit might yield some good video I could use for promotional purposes. But, as I told Mark, it might also ruin what had the potential to be a very sweet moment.
I believe pointing a camera at anything changes everything.
What if Charlotte was shy about her looks? She knew Mark, but she didn’t know me, a stranger in a mask. What if she had a heart condition? The video could become evidence in my manslaughter trial.
So I left the phone in my pocket and today I’m I awoke with the belittling and now-familiar taunt, “You’re such an idiot!”
Because the encounter with Charlotte was euphoric.
It was like we’d told her she’d won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.
She hugged me and burst into tears.
I don’t think I could have gotten a better reaction if I’d with one touch healed her infirmities and freed her from her walker.
I guarantee John Grisham has never seen a reaction like that. I understand Grisham’s books are intended to entertain and mine, particularly “Crayons!,” have self-improvement elements, but my point persists.
In order for Grisham to see a reaction like the one I got from Charlotte, he’d have to endorse one of his royalty checks over to me.
And yet again I’m left to ponder the vast gulf between reader adulation and my dismal finances.
Will this new book finally bridge the divide? I’m hopeful yet realistic.
I’m losing significant income thanks to Coronavirus restrictions that rule out lucrative speaking engagements.
Should I give up? Take a second job? Maybe become a plumber?
I think I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing.
Getting reactions like the one I got from Charlotte convince me I must be doing something right.
Sure, it would’ve been nice to have it filmed, but I didn’t feel right blindsiding a sweet old widow.
Now, you, that’s a different story!
I’ll be signing my new book all day (and part of the night at Flappers) at the grand re-re-re-Opening of the feisty and resilient Tin Lizzy.
You’re welcome to stop by and say in 30 seconds or less why people should buy my books.
Sure you can do all that any day. You’re always welcome here. What makes Friday so special?
I’ll today be wearing the same outfit as the one I’m wearing on the ballyhooed cover of “Undaunted Optimist.”
Right down to the neon yellow socks.
Charlotte’s not the only one capable of being endearing.