FAIRHOPE—A bookstore downtown. A book signing. I am wearing a sport coat, shaking hands, and smiling. There are a lot of people here tonight, and I am writing my name in their books.
The ironic thing is that I am not a legitimate writer. At least, I have a hard time seeing myself that way.
I have always seen myself as a Ford-owner first, a redhead second. A close third would be a devoted husband. However, in my house this job title has no official description. It would be hard, for instance, to view my family role as any different than the role of our dogs.
My dogs and I both sleep a lot, we both depend on my wife for meals, and the highlight of our day is finding a tree in the backyard that needs watering.
But here at this bookstore, I am signing books, and people are treating me like a real writer. It’s enough to make a grown man cry.
What am I
supposed to do? Smile and pretend that I’m actually what these people think I am? It feels ridiculous. It just doesn’t feel real.
I am thinking about the time in fourth grade when my mother told me I was smart, but I didn’t believe her. I seriously thought my mother was full of beans.
I made the worst grades in class. And bad grades take a toll on a kid’s mind. They make him feel like he’s doomed to be a janitor.
Imagine: All your friends are getting papers back with A’s, but your papers always bear a D, F, or a frowny face.
Also, I often got in trouble for things I didn’t do. Like the time when Mark Campbell brought a racy magazine to class. Mark’s desk was beside mine.
Mark whispered something to me but I ignored him because our teacher…