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
Wheel‘ 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.’
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 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.