"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Survival of the fittest. Or the most hydrated.

I was prepared for the Placentia Heritage Festival. I had my booth layout calculated and rehearsed. I had a cute and cool outfit to wear for the anticipated 96-degree heat. I had my cowboy hat with the tiara on it to keep the sun off my face during the parade.

What I wasn't prepared for was that the weatherman was slightly wrong. It wasn't a 96-degree day. It was 107 degrees. 

That kind of heat is all kinds of trouble. It started with the parade. We had a record number of marching bands, 30 of them, filing past the reviewing stand to be judged. It's important to these schools, so they want to look and sound their best. 

Guess what happens when you dress teenagers in polyester and wool and hand them tubas to play in 107-degree heat? By the time the fourth ambulance went screaming by, they cancelled the parade and shuffled us down to the park.

My booth was ready and waiting, staffed by my trusty assistant, Marcus. I'm usually over there by 11 a.m., but with all the bodies fainting in the parade, I didn't arrive until noon. At least the booth looked good, and several people had come by to reserve their books. They returned, so I could sign their purchases.

Even Dino showed up.

I'd like to say that the heat wasn't an issue, but it was brutal and relentless. My cute and cool outfit was drenched, which didn't matter since there were very few people even wandering by the booth. I did have a few people come out to see me, which I appreciated beyond words. Thank you, Rick and Linda Ochocki, Kathy Abell, Michelle, Pat, Stephen Connell, Dan and Cathy Lekawa, and probably a few more that I can't remember due to my own personal heatstroke.

My Sister-in-Crime Right-Hand Gal Pal, Pat Broeske endured the heat!

Michelle Knowlden, local OC author extraordinaire, stopped by!

At the end of the day (which came early, because the organizers realized we were in a dress rehearsal for hell), I did sell a number of books. However, I didn't give away nearly enough of the prizes. Of my 6 baskets, I only gave three away. One of them will remain in my heart forever.

Just as the staff was announcing that we'd be closing an hour early, I spotted a familiar face at my booth. An older lady, named Penny, whom I'd met years ago at our Concerts in the Park, came by. She was shocked and thrilled that I remembered her name.

As we talked, I learned the years had been unkind to my friend. Now 76, she had a stroke last year, and was semi-dependent upon wearing an oxygen mask. I was actually worried that she would overheat. She told me that she still read my column every week.

I smiled and grabbed one of my baskets. "You know what you need?" I told her. "A prize for being my favorite reader."

She was over-the-moon happy. Did she buy anything? No. Do I care? No. I care that she enjoys her life, and if I can help, I'm happy to do it.

I packed up and headed home, where I slept for two days, due to heat exhaustion, I believe. Next year, we're all wearing t-shirts with this on them:

People are now asking when my new books will be available as ebooks. You can expect them on or before Halloween. Stay tuned, but in the meantime, you can pick up a paperback from Amazon, B&N, or any independent bookstore.

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