Sunday, November 14, 2010

You Write Like Sarah Palin

Yesterday, I drove three hours to Fargo (yeah, that Fargo) to sign books as part of the Altrusa book imagefair. This wonderful group raises money to build bookshelves in Habitat for Humanity homes and then stocks the shelves with brand-new books. Twila, the woman running the event, said the children who move into these houses are so happy to have books of their own that they run straight to the shelf when they first enter their new house and plop on the floor to read. Sigh. Makes you happy to be part of this world, doesn’t it?

During this signing, a lovely woman in her 60s picked up a copy of September Fair, turned it over in her hand, and asked me why she should buy it. I said, “It’s funny.” (I’m not a saleswoman, never have been, don’t wanna be.)

She “meh’d” and hemmed and hawed before deciding to give it a image try. As I’m autographing the title page, she remarks that I sign my name just like Sarah Palin, whose book this woman had recently waited eight hours in line to get autographed.

As my brain tries to sort out all the implications of her comment, the woman leans forward and conspiratorially whispers, “You know, I wouldn’t trust that lady to run our country, but she was really kind to the people in wheelchairs who were waiting a long time. She walked over to all of them personally.”

Her comment tickled me on all sorts of levels, but mostly because it was so perfectly Midwestern: kind but judgmental, with a total absence of irony. I wrote down the line in my “buttons” book, where I keep all sorts of great dialogue that I hear. Last Thursday at the train station, for example, my boyfriend and I were waiting for the Empire Builder to Milwaukee when we heard deep laughter rumbling out of the closed back room of the depot, where a group of conductors were meeting about something.

Two grizzled travelers were seated next to us. It was Veteran’s Day, imageand they had been talking about their service in the Korean War and what a shame it was that Amtrak gave 20% discounts to students but only 10% to veterans. When the laughter spilled out of the back room, one commented to the other, “Sounds like they’re having fun back there.”

And the other guy nodded and said, “As much fun as four men can have, anyhow.” Then they both started chuckling.

Hee hee. Love that random, honest stuff. What's the last great line you heard?

p.s. Speaking of the beauty of sharing books with others, the Mystery Writers of America is collecting gently used books to donate to underfunded libraries in Mississippi. If you have a pile you'd like to send to a good home, contact your local chapter and they'll send you instructions. It's easy to give!


Alan Orloff said...

Carrying a "buttons" book is a good idea--I always forget the great stuff I hear.

Here's an exchange I did write down. I'm not sure if it's great, but it did have me wondering:

I overheard two twenty-something guys talking on the street.
First guy: “I slept in a bed last night.”
Second guy:
First guy: “I slept in somebody’s bed.”

(I guess you had to be there.)

Jessica Lourey said...

That conversation has a lot of subtext, doesn't it, Alan?

Darrell James said...

Woman to husband: "Why are you coming home half drunk!"
Husband: "I ran out of money."

Okay, it's really more of a joke, but the only thing I could think of. Probably says I need a 'buttons" book too. Thanks, Jess.

Jessica Lourey said...

Hee hee. Thanks, Darrell.

Cricket McRae said...

Isn't handwriting supposed to reflect personality, Jess? I'd never have guessed your signature would look like Ms. Palin's! Love the buttons book idea, too.

Overheard in grocery store:

Teen girl #1: Are these the olives Mom wanted?
Teen girl #2: Nah. Those aren't done yet. See, the little red thing hasn't popped out yet.

Hearth Cricket

Jessica Lourey said...

We think so much alike, Cricket. Her comment about my handwriting immediately made me defensive. Internally, anyhow. I have my own bad qualities, but I don't think they're in line with Ms. Palin's.

LOVE the olives line. Don't you wish you knew who their mother was so you could have told her?

Julia Buckley said...

I swear I heard this sentence at an outdoor bar in Washington DC in 1984. Two guys were sitting at a table, and one of them had drawn something on a napkin. Then one of them said, "Okay, so it's gorilla, you, bozo, bozo, bozo."