Saturday, October 24, 2015

the reading.

I know my brother's coming late to the reading so I tell the crowd [that's playing free-and-loose with terminology -- I should use the word audience, but I'm sticking with crowd] that when he shows up they should whisper loudly, "That's him! That's the brother she just read all those horrible things about!"
But he knew that I'd do something like that so he was armed to be loud back. He said, "My grandfather always told me that if you're headed into an uncomfortable situation, it's best to show up late ... and drunk." 
(Note: Our grandfather was a wise man.)
He took his seat. The brilliant Laurie Foos and I were into the Q & A part and he's beaming in the audience the way my Pops does, which is really sweet, but then, moments later, I see him looking down and I know he's gotten distracted and pulled out his phone so I whip around the podium -- as maybe some of my students can imagine -- and I say, "Dude, you are seriously not on your phone right now."
And he says, "What? I'm searching for my favorite line from your novel."
And I say, "Oh yeah. Right."
He sticks with it. "Really, I'm searching the book!"
And I say to the audience, "Oh, he's searching alright." Then to him, "We'll discuss this at Thanksgiving," which as we all know is the time set aside for the airing of family grievances.
Later though, while I'm signing books and before we head to the bar, he shows me the lines. They are:
“My dad got us a Lab from the pound. It ate its own poops after they’d been left in the yard to harden,” I tell Ron. It’s a rare memory of my father.He fed it fat rinds from the table, which Eleanor took as a comment on her cooking. The dog would be flatulent for the rest of the night.
“Eating your own poop – that’s the height of vanity, if you ask me,” he says, which is hard to take from a man who is moussing his hair. Ron’s hair shifts unnaturally in wind as if a single unit.
This is proof, of course, that my brother did read the book because of all the lines in the book "Eating your own poop -- that's the height of vanity, if you ask me," would clearly be his favorite. I soften.
A bunch of us went out after. Some of my favorite people were there. My brother who rarely reads promised Emily Franklin that he would read her new upcoming novel which he claimed was more valuable than anyone else there reading her book because his book-reading is so rare. Jay Wexlerendured much Baggotting; I've sent my apologies already. Tim Hugginswasn't spared either.
And just as things were winding down, my oldest daughter pulled out her phone and told my brother to do a sorority squat, and she didn't just get a picture of it -- no, no. She got an actual leaping and squatting and cute-facing video. And THAT my friends will be what we share at Thanksgiving. It will be a gift that gives and gives and lives on.
And there is a happy ending for all, the end.

[I'm aware that this advice from my grandfather could have far-reaching effects. At the very least it could change faculty meetings forever. ]