Friday, July 23, 2010
By Deborah Sharp
I don't know what I was imagining might happen when I handed over my microphone to a drunk reveler on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
You know Fort Lauderdale, right? Famous for raucous Spring Breaks, wet T-shirt contests, and chug-a-lug nights at the beachfront Elbo Room. Literary readings? Not so much.
Okay, I was supposed to be reading from my latest ''Mama'' book, so not exactly literary ... but still. I'm not sure what my friendly local bookseller was thinking (or drinking). She brought a karaoke machine, like the kind kids at PJ parties play with, to the corner of A1A and Las Olas Boulevard and asked me to read from Mama Gets Hitched.
Harleys rumbled past. Drunks stumbled up. Bar babes peddled shots from bandoliers around their bikini-clad bodies. And, did I mention the wind was whipping off the Atlantic at gale force?
A group of women dressed for the nightclubs tottered past in high heels. "Oh, look how cute you are, trying to read out here!'' one girl said. "That's so pitiful.''
At least she bought a book, one of the very few I sold that night before the skies opened up and poured rain. And, no, I'm not above taking advantage of a pity purchase.
I thought I could talk the drunk guy into buying a book, too. But he got ugly when I wrestled back the mic after he started an impromptu, X-rated rap. Come to think of it, maybe that would have drawn an audience.
The whole experience got me thinking about the worst spots I've done signings. Here are my Top (Bottom?) Three:
1. Sitting on a hay bale in 100-degree heat right next to the cattle chute at a rodeo in Okeechobee, Fla. It was so hot, my give-away Hershey's kisses oozed out of their silver wrappers. They looked like miniature versions of the cow patties that spackled the ground behind me. I learned a lesson: Hard candy trumps chocolate in Florida's summer swelter.
2. Standing in front of a table at a chain bookstore, on launch day for the latest installment in Stephanie Meyer's saga. Fans of vampire romance elbowed past me to get to a humongous Twilight display to select their books, posters, coasters, calendars, T-shirts, coffee mugs ... whatever. Can you say, ''Humbling?''
3. And now, of course, the bar-packed, loud-music-blaring, motorcycle-revving, drunks-lurching ''Strip'' along Fort Lauderdale Beach. After my throat recovers from trying to holler out my prose, maybe next I'll try a NASCAR track or monster truck rally.
What's the worst place you can imagine for a book reading?