belated fawning

easy demeanor
flowing skirt, lots of laughter
just as I had hoped

When you get to meet someone you admire – even briefly – there is always a flicker of doubt beforehand. Will the person be an asshole? Will they acknowledge your existence in the world? Is it worth trying to meet someone you hold in such esteem, when there’s a risk your illusions will be shattered?

That all sounds very dramatic, and I don’t mean it to. I just mean to say that when you’re on the cusp of meeting someone you really, really hold in high esteem, you get a little nervous.

This is how I felt on Monday when I went to see Mary Roach talk about her new book, Bonk.

I have been in love with Mary Roach’s writing since reading Stiff, her first book. And as I devoured Spook, her second book, I fell even more head over heels. She is the kind of writer who can take any subject (like cadavers, in Stiff) and make it not only accessible, but fascinating and ironic and hilarious. Her use of footnotes just kills me. Kills me! Because it is so awesome. These little facts and asides and notations are so wonderful and interesting and funny and surprisingly integral to her writing that I look forward to them on every page.

As I read her work, and reread it, all I can do is hope that one day I can write as wittily and smartly and wonderfully as she does. Mary Roach is someone to aspire to be. And yes, I really do hold her on that kind of pedestal. So the chance to get to go hear her speak, and to have her sign a copy of her new book, and have a quick chat with her was almost more than I could bear. I truly thought that as I stood there, breezily chatting with her about footnotes and how they drive editors crazy, I was going to burst into flame.

But I did not. I stuttered and stammered and flushed and turned blotchy and had a hard time holding eye contact, but I did not accidentally catch on fire. And as she signed my book, she added a footnote – the first footnote added at a signing, she said – and I felt like such a contented happy dork.

So, thanks, Mary Roach, for signing my book and for briefly chatting with me about your lovely footnotes. Thanks for the personalized footnote, and thanks for elevating writing to the degree that you do. Thanks for being so real and so gracious and so cool.

It was a great night.

2 thoughts on “belated fawning

  1. I loved her pieces in Reader’s Digest (does that make me a geek – that I read Reader’s Digest? Probably. I’ll add it to the list) and never knew that she had books. I’ll definitely be checking them out. Thanks!


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