That Christmas, Part 2

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Remember back a week, give or take, depending on when you read the blog, That Christmas, Part 1?

I apologize. If this was a TV show, one of the characters would announce, “Previously on this blog…” followed by strategically edited highlights of my meeting Ralph at a Christmas party, my learning of his book, and him trying to entrap me into turning said book into a screenplay that I would somehow sell to Hollywood. The literary party equivalent of being lured into a windowless van with candy.

We return to our story as I hem and haw without really answering Ralph asking if we could turn his book into a screenplay that Hollywood would turn into the next blockbuster hit. I didn’t want to do this or even talk about doing it. I didn’t want to make a scene. And I didn’t want to insult or disappoint or say no to someone at Christmas.

Seriously, that last one is nothing but bad karma, if you believe in that sort of thing. For the rest of us, it’s just bad.

YA Author Tom Hoover on Being Trapped at a PartyThat was when I had a Christmas miracle epiphany.

“Wow,” I said, hoping in vain that someone would corner me and try to sell me insurance or show me album after iPhone album of their child’s toilet training. “I’m, um, I’m not sure. I haven’t even read it.”

His disappointment was palpable, but he rallied quickly, praising me for my insightful restraint and thanking me profusely for saving him the embarrassment of rushing into something that was doomed to fail. In other words, he said, “Oh. I was kinda hoping we’d get started right away, but I guess that’s fair.”

A dark, dark cloud formed over his head—I hoped it wasn’t full of lightning. “You a pretty fast reader?”

“Uh, no,” I responded, probably too happily and descended quickly into babbling. “Painfully slow. Snails read to me and I have to ask them to stop and repeat things.”

Now he’s the one searching the party for rescue. And I’m closing my eyes tight, trying to will him to drop me like a bad habit. Chanting “never mind then” over and over in my brain so that his brain will take on this mantra. So, of course, he said,

“Can’t be helped, I guess,” he sighed. Now I’m his toddler who didn’t walk at six months no matter how much he bragged at work that I would—and he’s the father of ‘that kid.’ “So we’ll just keep in touch?”

The worst weapon man ever created was not a nuclear device. It was the direct order that sounds like an innocent question.

I was doomed.

“Sounds good,” I lied. Knowing that, somehow, the worst was yet to come.

Let’s just say I don’t go to many parties anymore.

To be continued…

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