Thursday, November 8, 2012

Escape from Christmas

Anyone who knows me is all too aware that Christmas is not my favorite time of year. But when I was invited to have a book table at this year’s Christmas Craft and Hobby Show, I accepted, being in the mode of do whatever you have to do to sell books. I’d done a holiday fair once before, years ago, and it was quite nice. There was a special section for authors near the front of the fair, each author was assigned a volunteer to help with sales and promotion.

I figured, why not?

So my daughter Kate and I loaded up yesterday for the scheduled gig at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. When we got there, we walked past a life-sized Santa made of dozens, possibly hundreds of twisted balloons in his sleigh, which was also made of twisted balloons, to the office, where a woman vaguely directed us, “Way back.” We followed her pointed finger along an endless aisle of Christmas and every other kind of crap to the far corner, where we found a sign on an easel that said, “Author Signings” and three empty tables.

We set up at one of tables, a small island among hundreds of booths offering everything from the predictable Christmas ornaments and decorations, stockings, earrings, sweatshirts, candy, talking Santas, candles, and stuffed elves to kitchenware, baseball caps, perfume, license plates, garage signs, sun porches, windows, table-top models of Indiana sports stadiums and Greyhound rescue. (Where, exactly, would you stash a Greyhound between now and Christmas?)

There were elderly ladies in Christmas gear: one in a gargantuan green sweater with embroidered candy canes all over it, another decked out in Christmas fabric from head to toe, including apron and mob cap; middle-aged aged ladies in too-tight jeans wearing headbands with glittery reindeer antlers or Santa hats. There was a whole herd of young women all sporting red and green feather boas and glittery red top hats.

We set up.

We sat.

I was reminded of a book signing I did years ago, for my first novel. The bookstore people had forgotten I was coming. They had seven books, in a display in the front window, along with a poster that had my picture on it. They had no table, so they took a few books from the window and put them on the counter, then put me put me in a rolling office chair nearby. You could see me through the plate glass window—you might even have noticed that I was the same person as the one on the poster; however, if you didn’t make that connection, I must have seemed like a stunned secretary who'd been astro-projected to the bookstore from her office cubicle. People regarded me with puzzled expressions.

Some asked, “Can you tell me where to find the Garfield books?”

Or, “Where is Thinner Thighs in Thirty Days?”

I sold one book that day: to a friend’s mother, who knew I was going to be there and came in on her lunch hour to buy it.

The thing is, like an idiot, I stayed the whole two hours. (I thought I was obligated to do that.) Then I went home and took to my bed, like a Victorian lady with the vapors.

Yesterday, I sat with my beautiful books for a half hour, watching freaky people go by. A half hour passed. It seemed like an eternity.

I felt the vapors coming upon me. I was supposed to be there four hours.

“Uh--Mom, this is so not your audience,” Kate said.

We laughed, sort of hysterically.

Then packed up and fled.

1 comment:

REUNION FUN! said...

Barb, I think my first post did not work. Too funny thinking of you and Kate in an endless Christmas show purgatory trying to hawk books. Way to bail. -Dan