Sarah Vowell Knows My Name!

Dave, I got Sarah Vowell to personalize the inscription to me (though
some could argue that ‘to Scott’ isn’t all that personal.  It is
far better than what Robert Pinsky wrote in the copy of the ‘Figured
‘ I had him sign for me, but that is a story for a different day).

That’s right, not only did I get to meet Sarah, but I got to meet
Philadelphia’s own Lunabomber.  Sadly, he didn’t have Shelley with
him so I couldn’t get a ride (though I think I’m over the weight limit
which is something that a normal person might be embarrassed about but I
know I’m fat so I don’t care).

Speaking of embarrassing (how’s that for a segue), I was in line to get
my book signed with my friend Maura.  I remarked to Maura, ‘I
wonder if Sarah Vowell has ever been to the Masonic Temple.’

Maura: ‘Why?’

Me: ‘Well, they have a little museum there, and in the museum they have
a piece of George Washington’s coffin.  I thought she might be
interested in that.’

Maura: ‘They have a piece of George Washington’s coffin?’

Me: ‘Yep, apparently sometime after his death they created a nice new
mausoleum for his body and so they dug old Georgie up, and his original
wood coffin shattered, and somehow the Masons got a piece.
Washington was a Mason, ya know.’

Maura: ‘You should totally tell her that.’

Me: ‘I don’t know.  I’m sure she gets tons of jerks telling her
random historical facts all the time.  She doesn’t seem to be too
big into small talk, and we know I’m not good at it.’

Maura: ‘Well, I’m going to tell her that you have a good story to share with her.’

Me: ‘You wouldn’t!’

Maura: ‘Ok, I won’t.  But you should tell her anyway.’

And that settled that, or so I thought.  Being the gentleman that
I am, I allowed Maura to get her book signed before I did, so Maura made
her way up to Sarah.  She seemed to be taking a little longer than
others, but she did have two books with her so I thought nothing of it.

Soon Sarah was done signing Maura’s book and it was my turn.
Should I tell her about Washington’s coffin?  Would she care?

‘You’re Scott,’ she asked me (a volunteer had written my name on a post
it note and stuck in the book to make the whole process easier so I didn’t think that Sarah had telepathic powers).

‘Yes I am,’ I responded a little too loudly (I sometimes lack the ability to control the volume of my voice when I get nervous).

‘And you’re her friend,’ asked Sarah pointing to Maura (Maybe she DOES have telepathic powers).

Oh boy, I thought.

‘Oh boy,’ I said under my breath, ‘yes I am.’

And then I said, in the suavest way in which it is possible to bring up a dead president’s coffin, ‘Have you ever been to
the Masonic Temple?’

She had not.

I then explained the whole George Washington story, and she responded, ‘How did they get it?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Well, everybody likes souvenirs.’



Water slowly crystallizing into ice.

I blinked.

‘I guess so.  Well…thanks.’  And I turned to walk away and promptly walked into a potted plant.


‘I’m sorry, did I embarrass you?’

‘What did you say to her,’ I asked.

‘She probably thinks I’m a freak.  I told her, ‘My friend has a
great story about George Washington. Ask him about it.’ And she said,
‘I can’t make someone talk.”

‘Well, you can make me talk,’ I said.

‘I know!  So, do you hate me?’

‘I don’t hate you, though I do feel like a special needs child now.’

Sheesh, I can’t imagine what Sarah Vowell thought of us, but it
wouldn’t have been a Blankbaby outing if something awkward didn’t
happen to me.

13 responses to “Sarah Vowell Knows My Name!”

  1. After an incident with Jonathan Franzen at Villanova, I’m not too keen on meeting authors or getting books signed. :-/ It’s me. Not them.
    For the sake of others, I’d like to note that Shelley is a Segway. Just in case people were wondering why you wanted to ride a friend of mine named Shelley.

  2. Dave, that was part of the fun (i.e. people not know who or what Shelley is). And Jonathan Frazen, from what I hear, is a jerk.
    Sarcasmo, thanks! Your story is better than mine, if that makes sense. πŸ™‚

  3. Scott: If by “better” you mean more horrifying and likely to scar for life – then yes. Or thanks, or something. πŸ™‚
    Dave: Thanks for clarification. I was wondering if maybe Shelley was a horse or a motorcycle or just a very accomodating young lady who liked to give piggy-back rides).

  4. Please keep having awkward moments–Blankbaby would not be the same without them.
    One time I got drunk at a cocktail reception for William Styron and kept trying to tell him how depressed I was. That was a long time ago, though.

  5. Don’t worry, Becky, my whole life is a series of awkward moments with some eating and Apple thrown in for fun.
    Sarcasmo, that is in fact what I meant. πŸ™‚

  6. I think the whole thing is awesome! Wish I could have been with you guys…
    Hey, isn’t it about time to see a comment from Julie. I am sure she has a story. Don’t you JP?

  7. Scott, this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen you post, and does remind me a bit of my recent interaction with John Linnel where a) I acted like a complete freak and b) scared him as far as I can tell. I think that for a celebrity, being confronted with a tall woman acting goofy, calling you by name, and attempting to converse with you might be intimidating/scary, especially if one didn’t have a bodyguard anywhere nearby as one was looking at _Under the Banner of Heaven_ in Borders.

  8. And who could forget my dreadful stage introduction of Jim Carroll? I actually stood up there speechless, like a deer in the headlights, and rubbed my belly, man.

  9. That Sarah Vowell is scrumptious, I would imagine. I’m not going to point out exactly what I like about her image because she would have to wonder how many ooglers exhist and how she could retain some “self degrading nerdyness”. Those she never offended and I all love you Sarah. Talk to me.

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