Do I Have A Sign Around My Neck that Reads “Ask Me an Incredibly Stupid Question?”

Five hundred people, mostly women, showed up to see fifty male mystery authors at the 9th annual Men of Mystery luncheon and booksigning in Irvine today. During the autograph session, I was sitting at a table signing books with Thomas Greanias and my brother Tod when a guy came up to me to ask a question…

"My wife read a Monk book you wrote, I don't know which one, but he was wearing a raincoat."

"Okay,"  I said.

"She thought it was terrible.  Have you written a Monk book that's good?"

"And she thinks your brother is fat and that you're stupid," Tod said to me.

I laughed. The guy looked at Tod. "I don't understand."

"You just came over here and told Lee that your wife hated his book."

The guy looked at Tod with a bewildered expression on his face. "That's why I want to know which one is good." He looked at me. "Can you recommend one?"

"What didn't she like about the book?" I asked.

"She said it was very, very dark."

"My Monk book," I said.

"Yes," he said. "The one with the raincoat."

"Oh, that must be the Monk book I wrote about pedophilia," I said.

To be honest, I forgot what was said after that though I remember that my brother was busy typing on his Blackberry, giggling to himself as he updated his Facebook page with the conversation.

Later, at the end-of-the-day signing, a woman came up to me and asked:

"Did Dick Van Dyke have any medical training?"

"No," I said.

"Then how was he able to play a doctor on TV?"

"He was acting," I said.

"You can do that?"

"Tobey Maguire wasn't bitten by a spider and imbued with super powers and he was able to play Spiderman."

She shook her head in astonishment. ""Weren't you worried about getting sued by people? What if they followed his advice and got killed?"

"Then they were too dumb to live," I said. "Natural selection."

She walked away. I think she was insulted.

Finally, at the cocktail reception for the authors, a woman standing beside me said hello.

"I'm Carole," she tugged at the name tag on her chest. "Want an excuse to stare at my boobs?"

"Do I need one?" I asked.

"It helps," she said.

"I'm a happily married man," I said. "The only boobs I'm allowed to stare at are my wife's."

I walked away and immediately told the story to Col. Bob Levinson and Alan Jacobson and pointed the woman out to them. I'm not sure, but I think Bob rushed over there for a look.

17 thoughts on “Do I Have A Sign Around My Neck that Reads “Ask Me an Incredibly Stupid Question?””

  1. The Stupid Question asked of me at LCC one year was “Have I ever read anything you’ve written?”
    Answer: “Yes, and you loved it!’
    Burl Barer who reminds you “True Crime authors get even more hate mail than Lee Goldberg” At least you don’t have to worry that a minor character in a MONK novel is going to track you down and beat the crap out of you for printing their real name.

  2. Questions for your next book signing:
    1. Do you wear a raincoat when you write ‘Monk’ books?
    2. In another one of Dick Van Dyke’s TV shows, he played a TV writer. Did you take any advice from his then that helped you become the screenwriter you are today?
    3. In the HBO series, ‘Deadwood’, was the wood really dead? Or did they use stunt wood?
    4. (shaking hands) Do you bring hand sanitizer with you to book signings? You don’t? Darn! I was hoping you did . . .
    5. Is your little brother Tod older or younger than you?
    6. If Dick Van Dyke played Monk, would he still be a doctor?

  3. “I don’t know how you keep a straight face over some of this. I really don’t….”
    I wasn’t laughing, but Tod and the other writer, Thomas Greanias were. I was smiling, though, to show no offense was taken. But the guy asking me the question seemed totally bewildered. He just couldn’t understand what was so funny about his question and kept pushing it.
    Most of the time, I am too stunned to laugh and, to be honest, I try to be polite because I don’t think these people actually mean to ask stupid and insulting questions. They are just clueless.
    For instance, the woman in South Carolina who told me that she wanted to attend my screenwriting seminar but there was a much more interesting one at the time probably didn’t think that what she was saying was insulting. She didn’t think before she spoke. Or she was nervous. God knows I’ve said stupid things to people. So I try to be polite and make an effort not laugh in their faces or insult them back.
    Tod was so nice to the aspiring author who came up and told him the problem he was having with his book was the “writing it part. How do you do that?” I’m sure Tod could have slayed him with a witty remark, but instead he gave him advice on extension classes and books to read. Me? I was laughing so hard I was practically crying.
    “Please, PLEASE tell me you make these up.”
    No, I don’t. It’s part of the fun of going to these events. You never know what you’re going to hear. Tod gets these kinds of questions, too. So do most authors I know. The difference is that we write it down and post it on our blogs.

  4. “I’m Carole,” she tugged at the name tag on her chest. “Want an excuse to stare at my boobs?”
    I once looked up at a signing to find a well-formed young woman in a T-shirt on which was written, “Do you fancy a Shag?”
    As I was signing her book she explained that her family owned the license to import and market a brand of beer called Shag Lager.
    I said that the T-shirt had been a lot more interesting before she told me that.

  5. Hilarous! The clueless! You know, Lee, your life could be a reality show. It really could be. Or a sitcom. Remember that old show based on Thurber’s life: “This Is My World and Welcome To It”?
    There are so many avenues into a writer’s world for the guest stars!
    In “Sex and the City,” Carrie had a relationship goal (Big) but not a career goal. But in your show, “So You Want To Be A Writer in Hollywood, Eh?”, the writer could be trying to get a show on TV as well as have a relationship goal (trying to get together with a Heather Locklear figure, the glamorous TV starlet whom EVERYBODY wants!) And there could be a lot of other career goals, too, with the clueless popping up all the time!
    Remember the SATC episode where Carrie and the girls go to Hollywood? It was hilarious!
    Anyway, God Bless the Clueless! (They need it!)

  6. Are you sure that Carol(e) wasn’t making a reference to your character of the same name in “The Man With the Iron On Badge?” You may not have ogled her boobs per se, but you definitely spent a few words describing them.
    Although I suppose it’s possible you gave her that pseudonym for that reason.
    Oh, and in the backhanded compliment department, I finished “Man With the Iron On Badge” a couple days ago and, having read a few of your short stories, I was surprised at how much I liked it. Worthy of its positive press.

  7. Ben,
    Thanks for the kind words about BADGE. I’m sure that the woman in question wasn’t making any kind of reference to the book.


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