Is there anything more fun than going to see and hear an author read her work? I hope not. And I hope one of these days I will be reading my work somewhere (out loud and on purpose) and that people will be there (of their own free will) to listen.
Many years ago I went to hear John Irving read from his then about-to-be-published book A Prayer For Owen Meany. I certainly enjoyed hearing the author speak that night and I did buy his book which I’ve read several times, but (sorry, John) this ends Mr. Irving’s involvement in this particular story. At the end of the reading that night - I believe it was at the San Francisco Opera House, a very large and grand venue - I was the first to leave the upper seating section and step out into the hall. As I opened the door, I saw a man leaning against the wall not five feet away. Our eyes met. It was Robin Williams. I was surprised and failed to say, “Well, hello there, Robin Williams!” (Let the record show he also failed to say “Hey, Amy!”) As soon as he realized people were coming out, he immediately turned and walked down the hall and around a corner. My friend was right behind me. I said, “Look, that’s Robin Williams!” She looked, but all she saw was the back of a guy in a trench coat and a beret heading down an empty hallway. As we watched, he opened a door at the very end, went in and disappeared. My friend looked at me with disillusion. “Yeah, right,” she said or some such words.
(In case you’re wondering why he was there, you may recall that he starred in the movie version of The World According To Garp. In which the author had a bit part as a wrestling referee.)
(Hmmm, I wonder what bit part I could play in the hypothetical movie adaptation of SHADOW POINT? How about the waitress at the Mexican restaurant? I knew those long-lost waitressing skills would come in handy someday!)
(And it seems like a line from another Irving book, The Cider House Rules, would be a good segue into the next bit here: “Many people who drink at all drink too much.”)
(I sometimes get lost in my own parenthetical mazes...)
Anyway, about a month later, that same friend and two others were back in town and we went to a comedy club. I told the other two about our, well, my encounter with Robin, but they, too, seemed skeptical. But It’s True! I righteously declared. Yeah, right, Amy.
After a beverage or five at the comedy club, I visited the restroom. At the back of the club, talking on the pay phone was Robin Williams. Zowie! I went back to the table and excitedly told my friends I had seen him AGAIN! But AGAIN with the skepticism. They finally (and only) believed me when he jumped on stage to do an unannounced set.
A few weeks later, I was back in San Francisco with another acquaintance. We were walking along on a Saturday night on our way to a nightclub. There, on the sidewalk in front of us, talking to the bouncer, was Robin Williams. My acquaintance, recently arrived from out of state, freaked out.
“I know,” I said. “He’s everywhere.”
Well, I actually haven’t seen him since. (Did you miss me, Robin?) But if and when I’m doing a book reading sometime soon, you are certainly invited, Mr. Robin Williams! Heck, everyone’s invited - bring Pam Dawber, too! And you too, Dear Reader - I especially hope you’ll be there!