Betty Found me but I Didn't Find Anne Lamott
It was a two cruise ship week, and on the morning of the first ship Nelle called just as I was having my second cup of coffee and said there was a nice older lady and her two daughters on a tour right now, headed up to Fred's shop with Barb (who was wearing a pink jacket and would be easy to spot) and would I run over and say hi? They had read my books and that's why they came to Haines, she said. Well, of course Pearl and I hopped right over, and we chatted some and Betty and her daughters Shannon and Meredith and I set a time for coffee at Mt. Market later that afternoon. They made my day, to have such fans, you know? How wonderful is that? Then the next day, Tom from the bookstore called to apologize for not recognizing Anne Lamott until he saw her credit card receipt, when it clicked. He thought I might be able to find her. He knows I love her since I buy all her books from him, and he even lent me an advanced reader copy of her new, grandmother book. (We had that in common, too. Me and a gazillion other women.) So I put my dad, Papa Bob, Lamott's book Bird By Bird, and one of my books as a gift, into the car and we drove around looking for a grandmother with blond-white dreadlocks, which in Haines would usually be pretty easy to spot, but it was raining, and there were a lot of strangers on the streets, and maybe she had gone back to the ship. I decided to walk down the dock, holding her book conspicuously, figuring she might see it, and be so thrilled she would want to invite me on board to play the slot machines. She might ask me for tea, but I couldn't stay that long, since Papa Bob, who is almost 79, and was wearing shorts, because it is June after all, was cold, so I told him I'd be quick. I didn't want to impose, or have her think I was a creepy author-stalker. I just wanted to have her sign her book and to give her one of mine. I wanted to say thank you for writing the way she does. Luckily, Pizza Joe is also the assistant harbor master, and there he was guarding the security gate. He read me the piece he was working on for his high school reunion journal (he graduated in 1980) it was very funny. Joe is one of the funniest writers I know. Mostly, he just needs a good editor and he could be famous. Then maybe Anne Lamott would come off the ship to meet him. Joe decided that he could get my book If You Lived Here to her. (I was clutching a copy for her.) He grabbed me by the elbow hollering that I was a famous Alaskan author and hauled me toward the ship's security personnel. The first few people we met didn't speak English, but Joe convinced them that I was very important. I tried to explain that the really good author was already on the ship, but they were confused. Finally, a man who spoke English agreed to deliver my book to his famous-author passenger, "the writer Anne Lamott?" "Yes," I said, this is her-- and I circled her name on the cover of my book ( the LA Times compared us) which, I think further muddied his waters. Still, below her name on my book, I scribbled, "I'm really not like you, but I am a huge fan, hope you enjoy Haines and these stories." Or something like that. I was kind of flustered. Then Joe said, "Gimme that," and he took my book and wrote on the back cover "Dear Anne,"-- (or maybe Ms. Lamott? I couldn't see over his shoulder and I was thinking this was a huge mistake.) I did see him ask her to call me if she wants to "chat" and he gave her my cell number before he signed my name. Before I could do anything, the book was carried into the giant ship by the kind purser. I wasn't sure if I should laugh or cry. Anne Lamott has over 43,000 facebook fans. (I don't have 1,000.) There are more people on that ship than live in Haines. Maybe the purser couldn't find her. Maybe she said she doesn't take books from strangers. She writes that she always travels with a carry-on, so she may not have room for it, especially if she's reading, say, a big fat book about Alaska by an old guy who never lived here, like James Michener's Alaska. Still, it was nice of Joe to be so positive, and really, how lucky am I to live in a place where the assistant harbor master and three cruise ship passengers think I'm a famous author, and where one of my favorite authors who really is famous, walks into town off another cruise ship?