Thursday, November 30, 2006

"The other ones would find out."

Any minute now she will walk in here.
One of my favorite writers of all time, no exaggeration.
Do I really even need to say her last name?

I am sitting in the Starbucks of a Chapters store, [different one than last night, I’m trying to mix it up, you know?] and even though it is raining out, and the traffic on the freeway is absolutely HORRID, I made it here. In plenty of time, actually. Time enough to get a coffee and get the laptop out and give you a play-by-play.
Any minute now, Ms. Atwood will arrive.

She will be signing books in a little recessed area, yonder. Things are all set up for the occasion.
I have already experienced a moment of profound discombobulation at the new way things are being done. By that, I mean the Chapters store itself. Procedures!
See, I was going to pick up a certain book for a friend, and have Margaret sign the thing. However, when I went to the shelves, the Atwood area was barren. I panicked.
I grabbed a Chapters woman and shook her by the throat.
She pointed and said, “O-o-o-o-o-ve-r-r-r-r th-th-th-e-e-rr-r-r!”

[People sound so funny when you are choking them!]

She fell on the floor and then I went to the place she had indicated, but, HORRORS, there was only a mile high stack of the NEW book, Moral Disorder…. but I don’t WANT the new book…. I want….

I went to the checkout place, the long row of cash registers.

Back there they were selling other Atwood books, but all of them were ones that my friend already has.
Ones we’ve already read together. I was getting increasingly horrified. And not only for my friend’s sake, but for my own, also.
Because I myself do not have a book for her to sign. Seriously, I thought I would buy one here. But, Cat’s Eye, Handmaid’s Tale, Moral Disorder, The Penelopiad, Surfacing, Bluebeard’s Egg, Oryx and Crake…. I think these were the only ones I saw back there, on this trolley thing. I HAVE all these books.
So does my friend. I looked around, behind me. There was no one to kick.
So I went to the Literary Biography section and there were three copies of Waltzing Again: New and Selected Conversations with Margaret Atwood.

It’s a book ABOUT Maggie!
And I’ve wanted it for a while now. I bought it for my reading partner [the friend I am referring to, above] already, and sent it to her a while back.
I myself could use a copy, though.
I went back to the checkout area with this book. They handed me a bookmark with the number 55 on it. Apparently, this is how they do book-signings now, the efficient way. Probably too many people were being stampeded to death, the old way.
So now I can sit here and calmly drink coffee and wait to hear the range of numbers called. Ms. Atwood is already here because numbers 1 – 40 were told to line up, I just heard the announcement.

I just love her. There are few of her books I have not read, and I think that Alias Grace is probably my favorite one of all. Cat’s Eye was good, too.
Oryx and Crake lost me a bit. I think The Handmaid’s Tale is a masterpiece. A classic. And Blind Assassin. How intricate was that little book within a book?
Gotta go. They just called for 41 – 80 to get in the queue.
[I ask the girl sitting across from me to guard my computer for me and she says yes, she will.]

I’m back.
And Ms. Atwood is as darling as ever. I have met her before.
So, she is signing my book, and I lean in close and I surreptitiously ask her if she herself has a book that is a [I didn’t want to use the word “favorite” so I said, like a true dork….] “Is there any one book that you felt you were at the height of your god-like power when….”
“Oh, I would never tell,” she cut me right off.
I stopped, in mid-blab.
“I would never ever tell,” she repeated. “The other ones would find out.”
She handed me my newly signed Waltzing Again.
And then I was sort of whisked away by her helper-wench, this woman that travels with her and keeps things speedy, keeps dorks like me from asking too many retarded questions.

So, this is pretty much what I did tonight, after work.
→ Drove here ninety miles an hour in the rain.
→ Half-strangled a Chapters woman.
→ Bought a book.
→ Was in the presence of one of the greatest writers in the world.
→ Made a fool of myself in front of her, sort of.

Oh wait, they’re making another announcement.
Yet another round of Atwood groupies?
No…. they’re asking if anyone has seen a certain guy in the store, and the description sounds WAYYYY too much like me!


May said...

That was an unusual and interesting way to spend a Thursday evening.
I guess that for everybody it would have been difficult to find something smart to say to a celebrity. Also, she wouldn't have probably been interested in anything you may have said.
I have never been curious about celebrities, not even artists. It's their artistic production that counts - they are ordinary people, often unfriendly, prisoners of their fame.

Eva said...

Very neat! I love Atwood's writing too. Bravo for making the effort to meet her!

Isabella said...

You're so lucky!

I went to a reading by Umberto Eco once, and he started arguing with a guy a bit ahead of me in line and refused to sign his book, because it wasn't a book BY him, it was a book ABOUT him, and he'd never even heard of it. Your new Atwood book at least has her own words in it though.

I'll bet it's Blind Assassin.

Stefanie said...

What fun! And you have to admit, she did give you a good answer even though it isn't what your were hoping for :) I'd be interested to know what she is currently reading

cipriano said...

Atwood is a gem. I've said it before and I'll say it again, she is a Canadian treasure!
After I finished writing my blog piece, and had to HURRIEDLY exit the store because the security people were hunting me, Margaret and her wench-woman walked past me, very quickly, on their way out the door, into the rain.
She looked, as May notes.... like a mere mortal, but I know better!
She is the Goddess of the Pen!
Stefanie, I too, would love to know what Maggie reads! Isabella, that Eco-moment sounds like a moment of road rage. But I guess I might be the same... I would want to know.... "Hey, what IS this I am signing!"
Eva.... doesn't Margaret just ROCK?
May... I cannot help it, I am a hopeless groupie when it comes to authors, certain musicians, and Nicole Kidman.