Last month I contacted the BEA public relations people to request a press pass as a blogger. They approved the pass, so this morning I drove out to New Jersey, took the ferry to the Javits Center, and strutted onto the floor like a big shot. I was feeling pretty cocky because I've read about how publicists will practically throw themselves at working press to get us to mention their titles.
What I didn't expect was that everybody would leave their booths, form a large circle around me, and start chanting, "Mor-ris, Mor-ris, Mor-ris." Even though I thought it was kind of extreme, I did the old politician victory thing, clasping my hands together and raising them over my head shaking them here and there, like a Lulav on Succos. All of a sudden, I began to wonder how all the publishing professionals and show attendees had recognized me, since I don't include a photo in my blog layout, which I'm sure they all read. Then I remembered the press pass hanging around my neck and looked down to see whether my name was in 36 point bold.
What I saw on my chest was hair, and I realized I had walked into the BEA wearing nothing but my underwear. The chant I'd mistaken for "Mor-ris, Mor-ris" was actually "More-Asprin, More-Asprin" but without the "prin". The friendly faces suddenly got ugly, I realized they'd been drinking all night and didn't want to talk about books. Flashbulbs were going off, I turned and sprinted for the door, and when the hot breeze coming off the Hudson hit me, I knew that my underwear had remained inside with one of those souvenir crazed bag stuffers that plague trade shows. I didn't want to stand around naked in Manhattan waiting for the ferry so I dove into the Hudson and started to swim back to the car when I woke up in the shower.
Now, none of that would have happened if my press pass confirmation had gotten here on time. I'm guessing I actually did get a pass because I got some party invites and come-hither e-mails late this week, made out to "Blogger". There were multiple invitations to some sort of ceramics party at a night club put on by a guy named Harry and his family, maybe they made it past my spam filter and the press pass confirmation didn't.
Now I know that I'm not the smartest guy in the world and I get a little dumber with every passing year. I know this because I go to the state fair every May and try my luck on the IQ tester. I spit on my hands, swing that hammer way back over my head and hit the actuator with everything I've got, but I get farther and farther from ringing the bell at the top each year. Sometimes I suspect it's a mechanical binding problem, that the rail the bell clapper runs up has a hump in the middle and I've been distributed on the wrong side. But maybe the solution is to spend less time at state fairs and more time following up on business in progress. Unfortunately, following-up always struck me as a close relation of nagging, of which I have an absolute horror.