me, i’m naturally a back-row person. it’s a great place to hide so people won’t bug you. sure, there’s the occasional sadistic teacher who takes great merriment in calling on the back-rowers anyway, but it’s a risk worth taking. i’m not the least bit competitive, either.
plus, i’m not especially comfortable with public speaking– think red face & throbbing neck muscles. you get the picture.
it’s how I spent my life, up until junior year in college when a light bulb came on. hey…… i remember thinking. i’m as smart as those ass-kissers on the front row & if i sat up there, too & actually engaged, i’d probably get better grades, not to mention, i might actually learn something. so, i grudgingly hauled my little self to the front row where i steadfastly remain.
i migrated back there last weekend. the back row, i mean.
i was traveling. i’d been in san francisco visiting great friends. a really cool getaway that i really needed. i’m telling you, i’m either chained to this computer working or doing book promotion or whatever & it’s damn exhausting. oh, boo-hoo, you’re probably thinking. we all have jobs, so get over it…. you’re right, but i just needed a minute to whine.
okay, i can continue now.
trips are really sweet until the last day when you have to get on a damn airplane. &, no, i’m not some sissy who’s scared to fly– i’m not –it’s just a total drag. you know what i mean.
my friends dumped me off at the airport super-early. it was the husband’s idea, go figure, so he could zip down to san diego & hang out with his friend, daniel. oh, it wasn’t a big deal– i loaded up on four packages of chocolate kit-kats, jumbo-sized, & waited a couple of hours for my flight to vegas where i’d have a little layover before my final leg home to austin. don’t judge– chocolate while traveling is essential.
then i waited some more because the flight was mega-delayed- you know the drill. i kept looking @ my watch, wondering if there’d be time to catch my connecting flight. at the airline desk, i found out that i’d be boarding soon & they had everything completely under control.
moments after getting my seatbelt fastened & tray table in the upright position, i was hustled off the plane, knowing that my luggage was flying to vegas without me.
i didn’t get irritated, annoyed, grumpy– none of those things. i went into back-row mode. survival mode. hunkered down.
it wasn’t just me getting hustled off the plane, but about a dozen other people were in the same predicament. bringing up the rear, i followed them outside & waited half an hour in the scorching sun for a shuttle bus heading to san jose so we could catch a direct flight to austin.
a shuttle bus– can you believe that? but, i stayed chill.
finally time to load up, this time i was first in line– that’s how you get a seat on the back row. brilliant, i know.
so, i settled in next to a swarthy little guy who smelled like pepperoni.
did i mention that i hadn’t uttered a single word since i’d gotten to the airport? partly because my mouth was full of chocolate, but i seriously hadn’t spoken at all & i planned to keep it that way. i’d need every ounce of strength i had if things got wild– you never know, i might have to spring into action & commandeer the bus like sandra bullock in that movie speed. plus, i’ve seen the poseidon adventure & titanic.
this was when i began checking out everyone sitting in front of me- nonchalantly, you understand. we’d become a group now– a little family. the 30ish woman with the braided ponytail & ball cap who never got off her iPhone. her snuggly boyfriend whose bald spot she stroked intimately with her free hand. the white-haired older woman with skin like powdered vanilla. i squinted to read the words tattooed down her arm– “jesus loves you, but he loves me best.”
i couldn’t help watching one man in particular. i’d noticed him when we were standing on the sidewalk. you could tell just by looking @ him that he was a high school basketball coach with his broad shoulders & striped, collared t-shirt tucked neatly into his dress slacks– that & the fact that he kept mentioning it in a crisp voice. i thought he was just being helpful before, & i’m sure he was, but now he was asserting himself as the alpha dog– our self-appointed dad.
i could see mr. pepperoni to my right bristle when the man looked from face to face, assuring everyone that the bus should make it in time for us to catch our flight & to remain calm. then, mr. pepperoni said loudly, “i’ve been in this identical situation plenty of times before.”
when not one person acknowledged him, his eyes darted in my direction, begging me to say something– to please back him up & help him be daddy, as if we were forming alliances like on that old tv show survivor.
“can’t help you, bud,” my silence told him. “because if things get wild, ain’t nobody gonna be daddy but me.”
but, i’m not competitive– that’s what i told you, right?
it doesn’t come naturally, i’m not going to lie– but if the situation calls for it, i’ll kick ass.
it’s one of those things that comes with putting yourself out there. i’ll never make it with this book promotion thing, otherwise.
what writers have to do is completely contrary to their nature. think about it– writing is a solitary, holed-up, keep-to-yourself endeavor. then your book’s published, & you have to actually tell people what it’s about? book signings? okay, try this one– reading passages out loud? like in front of real-live people?
but, crap– what else are you supposed to do? hide on the back row?
trust me, it’s crossed my mind.
you would’ve been really proud of me. @ my book launch, i got up in front of tons of people & read a whole chapter. i promise, it was a really short chapter. nobody likes an insufferable bore– you know the type– but i did it, & you know what? it wasn’t fatal.
here’s another one– are you ready for this? i went on TV. got interviewed on this news show. me? seriously?
it’s not how i want to spend every afternoon, & i’m not saying i was awesome, & no one else did either. there were a couple of cringe-worthy moments, plus the news anchor said i should’ve worn darker lipstick… but, hey– i did it, & like i said– it wasn’t fatal.
tell you the truth, i learned a lot from the book i wrote. i made the heroine do tons of stuff she didn’t want to do, so what type of hypocrite would i be, lounging on the back row 24-7 ?
i’m not perfect, & i still like it there for sure, but, everyday’s ass-kicking time, don’t you think?
’cause daddy’s home.