It’s like Christmas without the food, cookies, cinnamon candles, and family, and with all of the neurosis.
Annie told me on the phone that two hot-off the presses hardcover copies of Where Am I Wearing? had arrived.
I drilled her with questions. “How big is it? Does it look like a real book? You know, like an actual adult book? Well, I didn’t mean adult. You…uh…you know what I mean, don’t ya?
“It looks good.” That’s about all I could get out of her.
We hung up and my wheels were still turning. “Oh my God,” I thought. “The dedication and the acknowledgments!” I wanted to be there when she read them.
I called her back. “Did you read them?”
“Did I read what?” she said.
“The dedication and acknowledgments?”
She hadn’t. Shewwwww…
Last night when I arrived home I tried to control myself. I fought the urge to walk through the door and scream “Where are they?” and then run to wherever the copies were, not even stopping to go around my pregnant wife if need be, but bulling her over.
Instead, I acted like a normal person…as best I could.
Annie was on the phone and I gave her a silent kiss on the cheek. I hung up my coat. I took my computer bag up to my office. All the while I scanned the house out the corner of my eye for any signs of the books.
I spotted them on the couch, neatly stacked.
This is especially like Christmas. You know that magical moment where you first spot the gifts under the tree that weren’t there when you went to bed the night before? It’s like that.
The books weren’t there the last time I saw the couch. Wow! Magic.
I played it cool and headed for the bathroom to wash my hands for dinner. Wash ‘em really good, now. You want to make sure your hands are as clean as possible when you pick up the book for the first time.
When I finished, I got stuck in an OCD loop at the bathroom switch. For the most part I’m not OCD. In fact, I’m somewhat disorganized, overall. But I do have my routines. First I take my left middle finger and lay it across the adjacent switches. The finger must simultaneously land on each switch. Then I do this with my right middle finger. I repeat until I get it right. (Don’t ask; it doesn’t even make sense to me.)
This OCD loop at the light switch lasted longer than normal because I was excited about the book and for some sick reason I prolonged the event I for which I had been waiting years.
Once I got it exactly right, I headed back through the living room, not so much as giving the books a glance.
For supper we had chili. It was crazy hot and crazy spicy.
My thoughts: The faster I eat it the sooner I can get to the book. But it’s so hot! My tongue!
For dessert we had chocolate covered Rice Krispie Treats. While Annie tells me about her day, I noticed she has chocolate stuck on her front tooth. I tried to fight the urge to make fun of her, but I had been dedicating so much will power to controlling the whole book thing that I couldn’t stop myself.
“That’s rude!” she said, in response to my comment.
I was quicker than normal to grab the dishes and clean up the kitchen. When I was done I calmly turn to Annie and said, “How about we check out the book?” I said this in the tone that I would use to ask her if she wanted me to pass her the ketchup.
I sat next to the books and didn’t touch them until Annie sat.. I gave a copy to her and cracked open my own.
My stream of thoughts: I thought it would be heavier. The dude on the front is wearing a bracelet. Who wears bracelets? Maybe I should have cropped the author photo a bit more. I’ll spare you the rest.
I was most excited about reading Annie the dedication and having her read the acknowledgments.
I started in and I stutter over the words, the words I’ve written. (You’ll have to buy the darn thing to learn what they are.)
“So, do you think that was dumb?” I asked. Eloquence in such situations is hard to come by.
“No,” she said. “It was nice.”
She flips open to the acknowledgments. Next to giving her an engagement ring, I’ve never watched a person harder for a reaction. I read my copy as she read hers.
My thoughts: I finished the paragraph about her and she’s still reading. She’s a faster reader than I am; she should be done by now. Oh, boy, maybe she doesn’t like it. I really screwed up this time.
She was silent. Seconds and heartbeats slipped away into time never to be heard from again.
She didn’t say anything; she just gave me a kiss and a hug.
“What took you so long?” I asked.
“It was nice,” she said, “and I wanted to read it a couple of times.”
For the next 20 minutes, we flipped through the book. It’s only about 250 pages long, but to us it’s much, much longer – about four years longer to be precise.
And we can’t wait to read it.