When I was 4, maybe 5, my grandmother—the one with the ground floor flat in Greenwich Village—bought me an autograph book.
So my autograph book remained largely empty, save for a precious few signatures. There was the clown from my trip with my dad to Madison Square Garden to see Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus. There was our widowed next-door neighbor who quite willingly pretended she was famous. And there was one of my favorite teachers in elementary school, who from my childish perspective was the most famous and glamorous person I knew. Then I grew up. Over the past few decades, I learned a lot about me. It turns out, I do become bumble-mouthed and awestruck around certain people of modest fame. And I do get excited about collecting their autographs. But not in a glitter-covered booklet with pink card stock pages rimmed with gold. Rather, I have them autograph their book. As it happens, Tom Cruise could walk past me on the street, and I'd smile politely with a quick "hello" nod (a reflex of the Southern hospitality thing I picked up after my parents transplanted our family to North Carolina when I was a teen). What I wouldn't do is chase him down the street and harass him to sign a scrap of paper. But when I have the opportunity to visit an author and purchase their work, I become star struck. I babble. I giggle. I shamelessly ask for a photo.
Granny passed away long before I had this personal revelation. Before I was ever able to reciprocate her loving gesture. If she were alive today, I'd purchase a book for her at a book signing event. I'd wait in a long line, chatting to pass the time. I'd watch giddily as the author signed her book. And I'd take a photo of her next to the author. And I bet she'd have recounted those stories with that same gleam in her eyes.
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