Last Thursday, I went a reading of Possible Side Effects, the new book by Augusten Burroughs, at the Union Square Barnes and Nobles. He read Moving Violations (a short story from his book, about his friend, Druggy Debbie, and their exploits flashing bad drivers enlarged, explicit sex photos - you'll just have to read it), and did some Q&A - people ask the weirdest questions.
As I was standing in the back, I realized how much I admired him (and still do); after all, he inspired me to start writing again, and even tried to emulate his style and honesty on this blog. It was because of this admiration that I stood in line for an hour to have him sign my book. And because of this admiration that I spent the whole time rehearsing in my head a perfect conversation starter:
"'I love you.' No.
'I really, really love you.' Uhm, stalker alert.
'I love your work!' Well, why else would I be here?
'You're awesome!' Way to go, Mr. Original.
'I'm your biggest fan!' Wack. What if he asks me to prove it?
'Remember me? I'm the especially crazy fan who took a photo with you, turned it into a postcard, and then give it to you at another reading!' Wait.. how did it go again? Shit, nevermind. I'm thinking too much. Don't think about it. Calm down, be cool and natural. It's going to be fine. Go with the flow."
As I got closer and closer, the more nervous I became, until I reached the stairs to the stage and my knees started to shake. I wished I had a minute to regain my composure, but in an instant I was standing in front of him, handing him my book. Off guard and unable to act normal, I tried to put on my most natural smile.
And then he said, "Hi Jason." What?! He remembers me?! I didn't prepare for this conversation! How did he know.. oh, it's right there on the post-it.
"Hey Augusten... I just.. (inaudible babbling here).. uhm.. nevermind."
"No, no. What were you going to say?" he kindly urged.
I had to take a deep breath and focus - he had given me a second chance!
"I just wanted to say... 'Thank You' for inspiring me to start writing (again)."
He looked up at me with genuine interest. "Really?"
"Yep. When I started on your second book.. uhm.. Dry, right? I started really writing on my blog."
"Yea.. hey, I noticed you started a blog on your new site, too.."
"Oh. Right. Well, right now it's kind of... stupid..."
"You probably don't have a lot of time to update it, with all that traveling..."
"...we'll see how it turns out. You should email me your blog address and I'll check it out."
"That'd be so cool. I will."
"Okay, have a great night."
"Uhm.. Great, Thanks! I mean, you have a great night too."
By the time I was done tripping over myself trying to get away from that embarrasing situation, I was quietly rejoicing about my signed book and semi-awkward-yet-successful conversation. He was actually interested in my blog! How awesome is that?!
Well, it was only when I got home that I realize I didn't have his email address. Le sigh.