Please note my friend Jim, front row, who is wiping TEARS out of his eyes. God, it was bad.
I went to my hometown of Jasper, Alabama last week to sign my book, “Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves.” (Which, by the by, is currently top-rated #1 in Parenting/Humor on Amazon AND free to read for Amazon Prime Members. *flashes charming smile* DING! As you were…)
Normally when we go home it’s for a quick trip to see my in-laws. We see other folks in passing but there never seems to be enough time to sit and visit with everyone we would like to see. But last week I did just that. For two days I sat and talked to all of my hometown favorites: my friends’ parents who helped to raise me, school teachers, church friends, and column readers who I had never met. I had a blast.
I was especially excited for my Friday night signing where I was going to be reading from the book. When you write for a publication of any kind, you submit your columns and hope for the best. You wonder if people enjoy them or hate them, if they laugh or cry… but often you never know either way. Reading your work to readers is amazing because you get to see, hear and experience the reader reacting to your story.
I spent the afternoon between signings in my dad’s office working on some last minute details. Three of my best friends were with me, and I realized I hadn’t decided what to read that evening. I wanted to choose carefully because while most of the material is PG-13, I didn’t want to scandalize any children who might be attending with their parents. My friends and I flipped through the book considering essays, “Awkward Naked Moments” is one of my favorites but not something I’d read to my own kids so we kept looking.
“What about ‘Road Trips’?” My sister suggested.
“I think it may be a little too long.” We kept turning pages.
“ ‘In Sickness and In Health’ might be a good one,” I suggested.
My girls all quickly agreed. The story features all of my family members and some classic male/female comedy. It was decided. We had thought this through and made a calculated and (somewhat) educated decision.
We hustled over to the restaurant and I signed books and visited for a bit before I began reading. By the third paragraph my chest was red and splotchy. My face was roughly the same temperature as the surface of the sun and my ears felt like they were going to spontaneously combust on the side of my head.
I had chosen, out of 32 essays, to read roughly 3000 words dedicated to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea… while people were eating dinner. I wanted to die. I paused to apologize, “Y’all. I’m really sorry about this. I obviously didn’t think this out. I know y’all are eating and I’m talking about vomit and if you came here to eat and not to see me, then… I’m really, REALLY sorry.”
I couldn’t go back, so I just went ahead and read with gusto. I said “Puke, diarrhea, breastfeeding, and vomit” repeatedly, and died a little on the inside every time. When I finally, blissfully reached the end of the essay I apologized again, “I’m really sorry if I ruined your dinner, but honest to God that was the mildest chapter I could think of to read.”
Hopefully, I was the only one there who actually felt like throwing up. If awkwardness could be measured in nickels and dimes, I’d be a wealthy woman by now.