Thursday, November 07, 2002 posted by Jen at 11/07/2002 11:21:00 PM
So it turns out you can go home again. I know, because I just got back from my Mom's house in Connecticut.
On Monday, though, I was in Austin, where they were enjoying -- or at least enduring -- record rainfall. Three inches in one day. And it was freezing cold, of course, and my escort told me that 900 people had turned out to hear Elie Wiesel the night before -- at thirty bucks a pop. How's a girl going to compete with that? Then one of the organizers whispered, "We had Marion Winik last year, and she dropped the F bomb. Didn't go over too well." Which put a bit of a damper on the whole section-I-planned-to-read thing. But my reading, while slightly less populated than Mr. Wiesel's, was still a lot of fun, and relatively well attended. The most exciting thing for me was seeing people who came and heard me at Book People last spring, and came back to hear me again! I never thought I was that interesting. Who knew?
I got to tell two of my all-time favorite stories -- the Target story, and the story of the funniest thing that happened at my wedding.
When my parents got hitched, they didn't have videotape, so my parents have an audiotape of their wedding, where you can hear my father stomp and miss and stomp and miss before finally manging to break the glass, thus signalling the successful union of man and wife, on his third try. "Which should have been a sign to someone," my mother says. So the one big thing I was worried about at my wedding was that Adam had to break the glass the first time out.
So there we were, standing under the chuppah, and the rabbi's blah-blah-blahing about love and commitment about what our "rings of gold" symbolize, and Adam and I are making faces at each other because we know the rings are platinum, and we can't believe that after all the time we spent meeting with the rabbi we're getting Generic Wedding Speech #214, and finally it's stomp time, and Adam lifts his foot and rotates his heel and.....misses. And I look at him in disbelief and whisper the words "You son of a bitch," except I whisper them so loudly that the people in the first three rows hear and start laughing. And Adam gets the glass on the next try, and we go back down the aisle and he's all, "I can't believe we did it! I can't believe we're married!" And I'm like, "I can't believe you missed the glass!"
Then on Tuesday I spent all day flying -- Austin to St. Louis, St. Louis to Bradley International (because they fly to Canada, don'tcha know) Airport. I went outside to find my Mom. Who wasn't there. After five minutes I called her cell phone. No answer. "I'm here!" I said. Five more minutes. Still no mother. "You're late!" I said. Five more minutes. I called again. "You're fired!" I said, just as she pulled up, waving cheerfully. We went back to the family homestead, largely unchanged since my high-school years, except now there's a very vigorous, very noisy pellet stove in the living room, and the furniture's all been moved around. My Mom and I and my brother Joe Weiner (my Mom's roommate while he finishes up his last year of law school) were having a nice relaxing evening -- including me getting to see this very nice review in my hometown newspaper -- until I picked up the phone to call my husband. "NOOOOOO!" my Mom yelled. "Use the cell phone! Cell phone calls are free after nine!" I thought of all the hotels I've stayed in on the tour, all the nice author escorts and volunteers I dealt with, and how not one of them screamed at me for trying to make a phone call. I pointed this out to my mother, who wasn't sympathetic. Her chorus of "free cell phone calls!" followed me up the stairs when I went to sleep.
On Wednesday, my Mom and I left the house early enough to work out and swim. Then I had the distinct and somewhat deja-vu-ish honor of speaking at the Jewish Community Center where I went to nursery school, and being introduced by a woman who'd actually taught me in Hebrew school, and whose son, as she proudly pointed out, was my classmate all through junior high, high school, Hebrew school, and on a summer trip to Israel. Of course, her son was one of the popular kids who never voluntarily spoke to me during those years -- a kid who, in fact, made a point of snubbing me on two continents -- but of course, that wasn't part of the speech.
Nevertheless, reading was just terrific, and the audience was full of familiar faces -- my Mom's book club friends, my Hebrew school teachers, people I've seen at the Center over the years. Lots of great questions, lots of "I remember you whens" in the line to get books signed.
Then we headed off to the WTIC-FM studios, where we were greeted by the singular sight of Joe Weiner in the waiting room. "Jenny, I'm going on the radio with you," he declared. "Fine by me," I said.
So by the time 4:30 rolled around, it was me, and Colin McEnroe, and Bill Curry, who was the losing candidate in Connecticut's gubernatorial race, and two soundalike lady psychologists there to walk him through the stages of grief. And Joe Weiner.
"Were you popular in high school?" Colin inquired.
"Oh, God," I said, thinking of the woman who'd introduced me ("We always knew Jenny was something special!") and her son, and his crowd, who shunned me. "I was a total loser. I think my brothers would have shoved me into a locker, if they hadn't been related to me."
Joe Weiner leaned toward the microphone. "I'll do it now," he volunteered. Heh.
And then it was off to West Hartford, where I had Thai food with members of my mother's other book club, and spoke to a very packed, very friendly, very funny, very hot room at the West Hartford Public Library. More familiar faces, including friends and neighbors, some high-school classmates who didn't snub me, more of my Mom's friends, and women who introduced themselves to me as my former babysitters. It was a really wonderful night, with a really warm crowd (and no, I'm not just talking about the temperature), and you can read someone else's take on it here (sorry about spelling your name wrong, Cristen! I suck!)
So that's it for now. I'm looking forward to seeing Scranton-area readers at the WVIA Women's Summit on Saturday, and Philadelphia folk at the Jewish Book Festival event at Temple Beth Am Sunday night.