Today I was a guest speaker at a gathering of 250 members of the American Association of University Women in Ventura. As always happens at these events, I had some bizarre encounters.
There was another author who'd cancelled his appearance at the last minute because of a death in the family. During the morning signing, a woman came up to me and asked:
"Are you the author who isn't here?"
"No," I said, "I'm here."
"That's good," she said and walked away.
I thought of a couple of better answers to her question after she left. I should have said "Yes, I am the author who isn't here" just to see what she would have said next. Or I could have said "No, I'm just a hologram." I wonder if she would have touched me to see if I was real.
Another woman came up to me and asked me to sign a book to her.
"Make it to Katie," she said.
"Why does your nametag say Phyllis?" I asked, just to be saying something.
"Because the woman didn't show up and I swiped her tag."
"Why didn't you use your own?"
"I'm crashing the party," she whispered and winked at me.
A better man than me would have turned her in but she bought a book, so I wasn't going to rat her out.
During my presentation, I mentioned my encounter with the woman who asked if me I was there. It got a big laugh. At the signing that followed, that woman came up to me and she wasn't happy.
"You humiliated me," she said.
"I didn't point you out or even look at you," I said. The truth was, I'd forgotten what she looked like so I couldn't have pointed her out even if I wanted to. "Nobody knew it was you."
"I knew I was me," she said.
"That's always good," I said.
"I made an honest mistake before," she said. "You could have been him."
I still have no idea what she meant, but she bought a book. I withstood the urge to sign it in the other person's name. After her, another woman came up to me and told me how much she enjoyed my talk.
"I wish I'd gone to high school with you," she said.
"Why is that?"
"So I could have made love to you and married you," she said.
Okay, that totally threw me. I had no idea what to say. I just sort of stammered, signed her book, and she walked away. She was followed by a woman who had a burning question about Monk
"Is Monk ever going to get any?"
"You mean have sex?"
"Yes," she said. She'd actually asked me the same question during the question-and-answer session but I guess my answer didn't satisfy her.
"Well, the show is over, so no, I don't think so."
"What about in your books?"
I shook my head. "I just don't see it."
"I do," she said. "Vividly."
"I can tell you exactly how it would go."
"Anybody," she said. "I could send you the scene and you can use it with any woman you want."
I politely passed on the offer.
I don't know what drugs the Four Point Sheraton was putting in the drinks, I'm just glad they didn't put any in mine.