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Flattery Will Get You... Rolling

As a working author of romantic suspense novels, I'm often amazed, flabbergasted, (insert-your-own synonym) with the things friends, relatives, and total strangers say to me in a misguided attempt at flattery. Some of them are hurtful, but many cause intestinal distortions as I struggle to keep a straight face. Anyway, in the name of public education, I thought I'd share some of my favorites.

1. (From older, male family member laboring under delusion I write porn): "I'd read your books, but since my prostrate operation, I can't really enjoy that sort of thing any longer."
My response: Slack-jawed amazement.
What I wish I'd said: "You don't need a 'prostrate,' just a pair of working eyeballs and a brain."

2. (From medical assistant at an office where I'm a patient): "I loved your new book. I just *adore* reading trash."
My response: "Uh, thanks." I think.
What I wish I'd said: "Clearly, you have me confused with somebody else. Somebody who'd spend most of her waking hours writing trash."

3. (From mother-in-law): "You know, an *acquaintance* of mine -- I certainly won't call her a friend any longer -- told me in the church parking lot that "either your daughter-in-law and son have a wonderful sex life or she has a great imagination."
My response: "Well, either one's a gift, don't you think?"
What I wish I'd said: That one still works for me.

4. (From a reader letter): "Do you think you could please stop using words like 'nausea' and 'vomit'? I have a weak stomach."
My response: "Thanks for taking the time to write and let me know that you've enjoyed my books. I appreciate your making the effort to let me know your preferences."
What I wish I'd said: "Next time, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope and a check for $200.00 s/h, and I'll mail you a special readers' kit containing samples of Pepto Bismol, Imodium, and an airsick bag."

5. (From a customer at a book signing): "Could you please sign this book? I know you didn't write it, but it's one I'd rather buy."
My response: "Uh, no."
What I wish I'd said: "I double-dog dare you to take one of my books to Nora Roberts' next signing and try that."

6. (From a gold-chain dripping pseudo-stud at book signing, as girlfriend frantically attempts to drag him away): "I have some -- ah-- sexual techniques I promise would make your next book a bestseller. Want to hear about --" (Girlfriend, in amazing adrenalin surge, drags Pseudo-Stud clear.)
My response: Raised eyebrows, embarrassment on behalf of jerk's poor girlfriend.
What I wish I'd said: "Sorry, I write novels, not short stories."

7. (From overall-clad man at book signing, speaking to young son while pointing directly in my face from across the table): "No, ma'am. I didn't come to buy a book. I just came to show my son. (To ogling boy-child): "This, son, is a real, live arthur."
My response: Friendly finger-wave (using all fingers). After all, there was a kid present.
What I wish I'd said: (Pointing finger back at daddy): "And that, son, is a real, live cheapskate."

As you can see, I'm generally a lot cooler in retrospect, and I definitely prefer laughing off such goofiness to sliding into a funk.

But, my memory cells are running on low power. Anyone have other examples to share?


Alyssa Day said…
Cracking up over the 'vomit' letter!! my mother actually keeps a bottle of white-out handy to erase any possible swear words. Then she lets me know that she loans out the copy that she's "fixed."
And I can't say anything snarky! She's my mother!
LOL on the White Out story. And you're right; we have to reserve comment with the close relatives, friends, and well-meaning. Thank goodness we can think as snarky as we'd like!

Another possible reply to letter lady with the weak stomach:
"Oh, drat. Guess I'll have to shelve that idea for a historical set in the vomitoriums of Ancient Rome."
Jen said…
Thanks for sharing those! I love them, and I've experienced moments of awe at the things people had the gall to say to me. I have panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, and that alone earns me some crazy and rude comments.

But the one I'm going to share is from my boyfriend. We were checking out at the grocery store, and he likes to make the same, old, tired jokes to female cashiers (especially pretty ones). Anyway, the girl was probably tired and just wanted to go home, and just smiled a little. My mouth dropped open when he flew his hand over his head and said, "You didn't get it. Went right over your head." I know he didn't intend to, but he essentially called her stupid! Another female worker was nearby, and I'm sure she heard as well. I was mortified.
Joni Rodgers said…
That was priceless, Colleen. One of my favorites:

While signing copies of BALD IN THE LAND OF BIG HAIR, a memoir about my cancer experience, a lady asked, "Did you survive?"
ROTFL, Joni! Seriously - glad I'd just swallowed my tea when I read it. That's even worse than all the people who look past the "Meet the Author" signs to where you're autographing books and asks, "You mean -- did you write this?"

A lot worse. What the heck did you say to that? (Picturing a dust-dry: "Sadly, no I didn't.")

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