I signed up as an Author Escort. A schedule grid is posted and a volunteer may choose the time slots they want to work: one, two, or all day. As a firm believer that is it better to give than to receive when it comes to pain, I only signed up for two slots in one day. (This thing runs two full days plus stretches nearly three-quarters of a mile of center of campus of the University of Arizona and occupies every possible room of the Student Union. We are talking major distance walking.) Then, when the organizers have most of the time slots scheduled, they request you to send in your top four choices for your time.
That email might have sat in my inbox for maybe forty seconds when I sent off my reply. Voila! I was assigned to escort Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Barry for both sessions, so in essence all day. Woot! Plus Dave's pseudo rock band, The Rock Bottom Remainders, were set to do a charity concert the night before--on Friday the 13th--so I cajoled two friends to go with me.
|Photo courtesy of Amy Tan's Facebook Page|
Come to find out, when I signed up to escort Dave Barry, included was any other author he was presenting with as well as the moderator or interviewer. Oh wow! So I also got to escort Alan Zweibel, one of the original writers for SNL back in its real heyday with Gilda Radner! I had read his play about Gilda, "Bunny, Bunny" and loved it. Of course I took my copy for him to sign.
The afternoon session was an interview conducted by our local op-ed cartoonist, Dave "Fitz" Fitzsimmons, nationally syndicated award winner. Fitz had said Barry's "people" told him that they couldn't think of anything Dave would need "beyond the usual virgin giraffe and helicopter." Guess what I went out and got? Yep. I got it to Fitz in the morning and he surprised Dave with it onstage.
All in all, it was a fabulous experience. Dave and Alan were absolute gentlemen, very easy to talk with, and wonderful storytellers. Both confirmed for me that any life experience is fodder for writing, so you must get out there and experience as much as possible. And TALL? Good grief, each man was at least six foot four. So in this final photo, they're both bending forward at the waist and I'm standing on tiptoe.
|Alan Zweibel, me, Dave Barry. Yes, it's my own photo.|
At the close of the day, when I'd shown Dave how to get out of the University of Arizona's Student Union so he could figure out where he was in relation to his hotel, he turned around and gave me a hug. I was gobsmacked with gratitude.
I guess I might sign up for next year again. Maybe. (wink,wink)