Sunday, March 07, 2004

I was uncomfortable with being the first one there, so I wandered back into the cafe and read another section of my book. Three--maybe four--minutes being duly accounted for, I wandered, desperately nonchalant, back into the reading room. Still there was no one inside. I paused, contemplating the pros and cons of retreating back into the cafe. Would people notice that I was wandering back and forth? I had not yet decided my course of action when a cute guy with a mohawk popped up from behind a bookshelf; there was, I now saw, a sort of office back there.
"Are you here for the reading?"
"It'll be another 15 minutes or so."
That's me, chronically way too early. You'd think that by now I would have perfected my waiting technique, but I'm still awkward and self-conscious about it. I wandered over to the stack of books to be signed. Could I take one now, I wondered, or was I meant to wait until after the reading?
Finally other people started to trickle in, and the mohawk boy reappeared beside me. "Please, make yourself at home." Deciding, on reflection, that I was much to uncomfortable to make myself feel at home, I settled instead for finding a seat: second row, about four seats in; not too close to be spit on but not so far away that I'd miss anything good if someone tall sat in front of me. I nestled into my chair, opened my book, and waited.
The room was about halfway full when the guy with the mohawk walked over. "The author is late, so I hope you don't mind waiting."
"Oh," I answered, "can't you call him?"
"Maybe he got stuck in traffic or something."
Another fifteen minutes went by before the mohawk took the stage. "We still haven't heard from the author," he told the lot of us, "so I guess someone got the time or the location wrong. I guess we can consider this canceled."
On my way out the door I grabbed a copy of the book. While I'm mildly resentful that the author had not made himself known, I don't, after all, want the trip to be a total waste.

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