I was asked to read my Hub City/Emrys Creative Writing prize-winning short story at Hub City Bookshop in Spartanburg, SC. Last year’s winner had mentioned the disappointing turnout at his reading so I shamelessly begged everyone I knew to come be in the audience.
And things went well. I think my story compared favorably to the other readings—despite its lack of sexual content and F-bombs—and a group of 12 people, a mix of family, Sunday school friends, and writer friends (and some game spouses), came and clapped. And I didn’t trip over any cables or, like at my first piano recital, dissolve into a fit of hysterical giggles. All good.
Afterward, 11 of the 12 joined me for dinner. We strolled to a restaurant with a patio, Wild Ace, on Main Street, like we were city folk accustomed to spontaneous on-street dining adventures. We smashed the twelve of us into two tables for four and patiently waited for our sweet, overwhelmed waitress to bring drinks. And later food. And a while later the next person’s food. And eventually the next person’s food… When I waited to use the ladies’ room I noticed a sign in the kitchen—“Remember—customers don’t like to wait.” Ha ha.
At least we had an entertaining floor show. Didn’t know Wild Ace had a floor show? They don’t. The show was provided by (I’m assuming) Spartanburg residents. We’d noticed a group of teens marching around town bearing a sheet-covered mattress held by the four corners like a casket. When they finally made it to our side of the street they asked us to sign the sheet. Why? Turns out it was a church group playing a form of Scavenger Hunt; the more signatures the better chance of winning. At least that’s what they said. I had a few moments of misgiving after I realized I’d signed a bed sheet for strangers, trusting that this wasn’t a big internet hoax and I was going to be exposed as one of many who had done something else on that bed sheet. Maybe I should set a Google Alert to notify me just in case.
But that wasn’t the end of the fun. A young couple finished up at another table and headed out. The girl swayed dangerously, but managed to survive the journey through the crowded patio without bumping into every chair in her path. A minute later my daughter said, “They need to take her shoes off.” I looked up to see the girl draped over the boy, stumbling and twisting, head bent down like she’d forgotten her skeleton back at the table and was trying to prove she could walk without one.
“Is she drunk?” I asked, eyeing her absurd shoes, “or just can’t walk in heels?”
“Oh, she’s drunk,” my daughter said. She’s been to college so she knows these things.
The couple had made little progress—about halfway through the cross street—when the girl collapsed, lying flat on her back in the street. I don’t think she was hurt in the fall—bonelessness is helpful that way. The boy stared down at her as if she were a stranger blocking his path. Another girl went over to assist and she and the boy managed to get Drunk Girl back on her feet—during which we all discovered she was wearing black panties.
All in all, a memorable night. Can’t wait until my first book signing.