Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Crooked Truth About . . . a Book Launch

Jamie's Crooked Truth: It’s not about the watermelon turtle.

Last week, my local bookstore hosted the book launch party for Joe and Sparky Go to School. Fellow cottager Anika Denise works there, and was an enormous help. But what she doesn’t know is that I almost cancelled it. Here’s the Crooked Truth behind a book launch. . . .

Three months before party: Worry. Will I be the only one at the party? Should I call it off? Nah. I’m being silly. Surely my mom will be there, at least.

Two months before party: Mom informs me that she’s already made plans to compete in a cornhole tournament. Say WHAT? Send out a flurry of save-the-date emails.

One month before party: Search Pinterest for party ideas. Even though I’ve spent my life successfully avoiding crafts, I convince myself that I’ll make my own cupcake toppers, bus-shaped chocolates, and the pièce de résistance -- this watermelon carved into the shape of a turtle.

Week of the Party:
Thursday. Appear on local morning show to promote the event. It is LIVE. Shiver. My one goal: do not end up on “Talk Soup.”
    I survive--it’s actually kind of fun--and come home to replay the show. All seems okay. Until, the camera suddenly shifts to my book on the table and my knee beside it.
    I wait for the camera to pan away from me knee. It does not. For an uncomfortably long time, my knee answers a series of questions. Yes, this is really happening. I’m watching an interview with my knee.
    On the plus side, it doesn’t end up on “Talk Soup.”

Friday afternoon. Borrow a five-foot stuffed giraffe from the library. Young witnesses look alarmed as they watch the children’s department’s mascot zoom away in the front seat of a minivan.

Friday night, 1 a.m. After enough procrastinating, I finally attempt to carve a watermelon into the shape of a turtle. Read instructions, which call for a channel knife. What the hey is a channel knife?! 

1:04. Engage in brief but energetic fit about made-up utensils.

1:10. Cut watermelon in half and scoop out dainty melon balls.

1:20. Still scooping . . .

1:31. Realize I’ve barely scooped out 1/1000 of the watermelon. Grab a knife and hack out “squares” instead. Look down to discover that I’ve shredded watermelon.

Saturday, Day of the Party!
12:20. Unload packed car of its contents, including the five-foot stuffed giraffe, 50 goodie bags, store-bought cupcakes, bowl of shredded watermelon, watermelon turtle body parts, and a large cut-out of Joe and Sparky.

12: 25. Place Joe and Sparky cardboard cut-out in the front of the store.

12:30 p.m. Hear a hubbub outside. Good gravy! A kid has gotten his head stuck in the cardboard cut-out!!

12:35. Assemble watermelon turtle in the bookstore’s office. Try to stick turtle’s head and legs into its “shell” using toothpicks. Hammer them in using the back of a stapler. Watermelon guts fly everywhere.
    Me: “It looks like roadkill.”
    Anika, nodding: “This is a turtle crime scene.”

 12:45. I hear a soft voice behind me.
    “Are you the author?” a woman asks.
    “Yes, hello,” I say, wiping watermelon juice off my cheek.
    The woman points to a small boy standing shyly by her side. “This is Cesar. He’s a fan of your books. He asks me to read this one to him all the time.” She holds up her son’s copy of Joe and Sparky Get New Wheels. "We read about the party in the paper.”
    It takes me a moment to realize that this little boy came, not because he's a relative or loves bus-shaped chocolates, but because he likes a book. A book! With all the crazed preparations, I’d somehow forgotten what this party is really all about. I bend down to thank him. I love this boy. The best part of the day has just happened.

1:00. Official start time of the party.

1:05. Waiting for guests to arrive.

1:10. Still waiting. Oh dear. Make idle small talk with Anika while watching the front door.

1:12. I am alone in a cruel, cruel world.

1:14. The first guests arrive! And then another! And my mom, who brought flowers! The rest of the day is a blur of familiar and new smiling faces. The bookstore is lively and crowded. Kids are getting books. Some are already reading. They all look happy. 

And you know what? Nobody ate that watermelon.

1 comment:

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