Austin memories (3)
Sunday is for Sandy
While all of us authory/publishy types were hanging out in downtown Austin on a brisk Saturday, a hurricane you may have heard something about was aiming for the East Coast, and it was shaping up to be an issue for those of us who A: reside on the East Coast, and B: were expecting to be traveling back home any time between Sunday night and Monday.
I had yet to be personally concerned about this because I already had the week off anyway, and besides the airline hadn’t canceled my flight. In a fit of randomness after getting my ticket I had downloaded the American Airlines app to track my flight, something that three weeks ago was an essentially unnecessary exercise for someone who obsessively memorizes his flight plans already due to a constant fear of missing a flight and being stranded in a terminal and bathing in the public sinks like Tom Hanks did in that movie, but which suddenly made perfect sense. (Note: I just gave my editors an aneurysm.) So from Saturday night on through Sunday morning I checked the flight approximately every half hour, and every time it came back as being “On Time”, and I was fine with that because my phone apps had never lied to me before.
Sunday was the day we all got to sleep in, which was really nice after an extremely long Saturday that went on into Saturday night and a massive dinner at an upscale Mexican restaurant that served fajitas buffet style for us. (And no, I have never seen the words “upscale” and “Mexican restaurant” next to one another before either.) I’ve seen photos of this evening, and in all of them I have my elbows on the table and I am leaning forward looking like I’m paying attention to some manner of conversation, but I think the truth is I was just trying to hold myself up so I didn’t fall asleep face-forward in my fajita. I was thus very happy that we weren’t obligated to be anywhere until 10 AM Sunday, on account of the book festival not starting until 11 AM, on account of this was Texas and there is church.
I arrived in the lobby at 10 AM and was immediately greeted by Suzy Duffy, she of Wellesley Wives and current resident of Wellesley, MA., who had this to say:
“Gene did you check your flight? Jen’s flight was canceled and you’re going tomorrow yah? We’re going to the airport now to try and get on a flight before they closetheairportsareyoucomingwe’releavingnOWYOUSHOULDCHECKOUTANDCOMEWITHUS.”
And that is how the most serene portion of my weekend ended.
Still on schedule
But according to my little American Airlines app my flight was still a go, so even though the weather maps indicated that a bunch of colors were about to be spilled all over the thirteen colonies, I was prepared to accept that my airline thought it could do it. Plus, I was pretty sure I couldn’t pack in under thirty seconds.
So I went to the book festival instead with everyone, and proceeded to be the least communicative person in the greater Austin area for the next three hours. Because sometime shortly after Noon the flight from Dallas to Boston was indeed canceled, so after spending the first hour checking every few minutes I spent the subsequent 1.75 hours on hold to reschedule the flight.
To my vast surprise, I was able to secure a Tuesday morning flight, exactly 24 hours later than my canceled one. Surprising, because as far as anyone knew Hurricane Sandy would still be having some kind of impact on Tuesday. Even the woman who rescheduled it parsed this with, “we have some Tuesday morning flights that aren’t canceled yet.”
The actual highlight of my day was probably during my half hour at the book signing table. I was the last scheduled author on both days, and you can interpret that however you want. I’m choosing to think of the other authors as my opening act, while it’s probably more accurate to say that I was put at the end because there would be fewer people left to offend at that time of day.
Four high school girls drifted into my approximate orbit about midway through the scheduled time, with two hovering in the foreground and two in the background, obsessively evading eye contact with all living entities that were not also high school girls, as high school girls are wont to do.
I carnival-barked the closer two over, as one of them appeared to be nominally curious, and then tossed some random details about the books at them in case something might penetrate. The most curious of the pair picked up Immortal and read the back cover, while her friend kept her eye on me in case I attacked suddenly.
I continued with my clearly-being-ignored description until the one with the book in her hand said to her friend, “Did you read this? This sounds really good!“
So they pooled together their money and negotiated a joint ownership arrangement, I signed the book, and the herd walked away, hopefully to lovingly pass around their one copy of Immortal for many weeks hence.
And now I have to consider what I might do with a fandom consisting of teenage girls. What will be the scope of my powers? Someone contact John Green for me.
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