Monday, May 4, 2015

My superhero (for a few minutes, at least)

Sometimes, the smallest things can have the biggest impact on people. You may never even realize that you've done anything at all.

I was at my second signing of the day for "Beast Charming," an independent bookstore that had barely anyone in it. The few people who were there couldn't have cared less about the book, a fact that become even more ludicrous when they insisted I still do a reading. The seats were absolutely empty, except for my best friend in the front and the one dude who'd taken over planning the event (which was no help. It was literally his job to be there.)

So I started the reading, feeling profoundly stupid and just trying to power through it. Occasionally someone would wander through the back, not even slowing down slightly on their way to wherever they were going. I kept going – the people who'd asked me here still clearly wanted me to do it, no matter how ridiculous it was – but I told myself I could stop whenever I just couldn't take it anymore. Every paragraph, I was sure I would give up at the next one.  

Then I saw a guy in the back – clearly following his girlfriend around – who actually sort of looked like he was listening. His girlfriend couldn't have cared less about the reading, her focus clearly on whatever book she was looking for, but the guy's head was cocked in a certain way that happens when you've got an ear on something that's not in front of you. And when she left, wandering on to another section of shelving, he actually stayed and listened. Not even halfway this time – body turned completely to me, focus on me, leaning a little against the edge of a bookcase like he'd settled in for the duration. 

I have no idea why – he was actually on the complete opposite end of the spectrum of the book's potential target audience, so I can't imagine he was actually interested. But the fact that he was there, honestly listening without being obligated to (another employee wandered over after he did), was such an immense shot of comfort and courage. I went all the way through the reading I'd planned, and it was all because of him.

If it hadn't been so wildly inappropriate – like I said, girlfriend – I would have hugged him. As it was, I hope he had an amazing rest of the day. He deserved it.

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