Since I taught senior fitness there for over a decade, it’s natural that I hold Lillian’s launch at the Senior Center. These students are my peeps, my primary community. When I published Thanks But No Thanks: The Voter’s Guide to Sarah Palin a month after Palin had been selected as a VP candidate, they held my first book party.
I had been warned by J, the lovely head-honcho of Activities, not to choose reading selections with a lot of swearing or sex talk. “Your students know you, but we’re advertising it widely, so some people might come and feel offended.” This puts a crimp in my options. I know she’s right when the first two (strangers) to seat themselves (front row) ask me, “Which film is being shown today?”
Somehow my departure from home to the Launch is a mess. I’m using my old fashioned travel wheels, that metal device that you used to load your suitcases on before suitcases had wheels. It’s served me over the years in multiple capacities, including transporting to my flat furniture I found on the London streets. I load my big box of books – always the optimist – and other necessities and go down to the car. I undo the box from the wheelie device, and stash everything in my trunk, get in the car and start to pull out of the garage.
My phone! It’s upstairs charging. I return to my space and grab the elevator up for the phone and take a pee, what the hell. I’m back down seven flights into the car and off down the street. Three blocks later: Oh shit, I’ve forgotten my jacket, all ironed and on its hanger. I do a U-ie and go back. I live on a four-lane main road. There’s a spot in front of the building so I do another U-ie but then someone slips into that spot ahead of me so I do a third U-ie and park it across from the building. I rush up and down with the jacket. I do a U-ie and 30 minutes later arrive at the Senior Center at my original intended time, 12:30. Okay, except that I’m semi-drenched in sweat.
I’ve arrived early to set up. There are already about 10 of my students waiting. Hugs, kisses, and moving chairs with J into a nice semi-circle. The hall fills up. I’ve asked Bella to introduce me. She is the wife of a Rabbi and has great pipes. But as soon as I unpack some books to put on the table, a big line of people waving tenners forms. (My book costs only $9.99.) I start signing their books with personal messages, but then it is time to start. Bella gives me a brilliant introduction and I take center stage. Well, center floor, there’s no stage.
I start. “I hear there are rumors going around the Senior Center that I’m going to be reading pornographic material. I do apologize, but I will not be reading porn, so all those who came for that reason and who therefore want to leave, feel free to do so now.” Some people are amused and some are looking with discomfort at their neighbors.
I read from three different pieces, chatting in the middle, and it is congenial. I’m surprised at how few questions there are – just 3 or 4 – and I suspect it is because everyone knows that Doreen, one of our favorites, has baked a huge selection of her famous cookies. They are lingering untouched in the back of the room and mere literature is scarcely a sufficient competitor for her lemon shortbreads and chocolate chocolate chips.
Afterwards, I continue signing. My friend Gail, the math genius, takes the money and keeps the records, and more than one of my seniors complements me on my ability to remember their names. I wish I could remember who first pointed this out to me.
With 36 books sold, I’m a rich woman so afterwards I go directly to the famous Jewish bakery for a bag of day-old bagels and then on to my favorite used clothing store. A writer at the dizzying heights of selling 36 books all at once must have new t-shirts. Four or five in a range of hues are now in my possession, the most expensive $2.99, and I’m ready to get decked out for the upcoming book party my dear friend Charles is having for me on Sunday.
I do have a slight concern that when those 36 get home and settle into the story with the very explicitly kinky sex or the one featuring lube and dildos, that they will demand their money back and I’ve already spent like $11.00 at the charity shop.
Thanks to Barry Hock for documenting my book launch with these fine photos.