I pull my car into the parking garage. The driveway spirals up, up like spiraled pasta macaroni. I drive all the way to the top because that's where I am today, on top of the world. I'm a celebrity. I'll be signing books for Lee & Low Books at the IRA convention. I park my own car thinking, why? Where is my limo? Aren't celebrities of my status chauffeured? I head down the spiraled pasta ramp, walking against the oncoming traffic and I'm forced to jump out the way of a speeding car. "What's his problem? He should know that he almost ran over a celebrity. I'm Devas T., and the world would miss my presence.
I call my publicist. Ok, she's not exactly MY publicist. And, well, OK, she's not a publicist at all. But she's my contact for the day and I need to let her know that I've arrived, that Devas T's in the house. "Won't she be overwhelmed to hear from me?" Her celebrity has arrived! I can just imagine her anticipation, her excitement at hearing my voice. Devas T's voice. "Hello Jennifer, prepare yourself. This is Devas. I'm in the building," I let my message out slowly, annunciating each and every syllable. Not wanting to completely knock her off her feet. A celebrity brotha's soft sexy voice can be a bit too much for the typical run-of-the-mill publicist. "Oh ok," she says," hanging up before I can continue preparing her for my celebrity presence. "Hmm, must be a bad connection, maybe this parking garage, maybe my battery is low," I claim to myself.
Wading through the halls of the convention center, every eye is on me. There's a celebrity in their presence, and although they haven't acknowledged me, yet, I know they are shivering in their shoes as I stroll up and take my place in the exhibitors line.
Then, her eyes met mine. I look away. I don't want to make her feel nervous. As she approaches me, I turn toward her. I want her to feel immediately accepted, at ease in my presence. I give her my biggest celebrity-bright smile, "yes it's me, that's right, Devas T," and I put my hand out for her to shake. She glowers at me. "Could you get out of the way so the maintenance crew can get through, she says. I look around. Surly, she's not talking to me, Devas T, the celebrity illustrator in line. The janitors will be glad to carefully walk around me. Won't they? Maybe not. I move.
After working my way through the line, careful not to make eye contact with any of the ordinary people, I notice the young registrar. She's a good-looking African American woman. She wants me, I know. "That's Devas T. and he's up next," she prays to herself." I stick out my chest, having worked-out my pecs to a ripe fullness, I know she must be salivating as I stand there. I re-adjust my stance, turning slightly to the side, giving my glutes a slight squeeze. She glances my way and I can imagine what she is thinking now. "This Devas T., he's got back."
Swaggering into her presence, I drop my name loudly so that everyone around can hear. "Who are you and who are you exhibiting with?" she asks me, not bothering to look up. I give her my name and she tosses my badge on the counter. "Next!" she yells. My celebrity status has made her too nervous, I tell myself. I look at my badge, it reads EXHIBITOR. They got it wrong. Shouldn't mine read CELEBRITY ARTIST?
The exhibition hall is full, shoulder-to-shoulder with teachers, librarians, publishers, agents, authors and illustrator from all over the world. I look at some of the other celebrities that are sitting behind their signing tables. I notice the long lines of people anxious to get their books signed. Humpt! I think to myself. Just wait until my line begins. It will wrap itself down the isle and back to the entrance of the exhibition hall.
After getting myself lost a few times, I find my booth. I meet my publicist. I meet my publisher. I see my seat. I see my books in a pile, awaiting my autograph. So, I take my seat behind the table.
But here's where my story goes awry. I had planned to write a completely different ending to this story. I had planned to write about how no one might come out to buy my books. I had figured no one would really want to get my autograph, that no one would have heard of my name. That's why I dreamed up the above story. To prepare myself. To make myself feel big when in fact no one would really care that I was at the convention to sign my books. But now I gotta finish this story a bit different.
Because people showed up. The first person in my line tells me, "when I heard you were on the roster, I changed my schedule so I could meet you." And the remainder of that signing went just the same. My books sold out in less than 20 minutes and I was scheduled to be there an hour.
If someone could just promise me that my literary career could continue just the same everyday as it has over the last few days, I'd enter that newspaper tomorrow, resignation in hand.
One last observation: After approaching a publisher with my art samples, I was told "We only work with Europeans." (North-South Books) Hmmm.
Unrelated thought for the day: I learned something new. I read this on a t-shirt in downtown San Antonio:
I am MEXICAN,
I am NOT Latino,
Latinos are Anglo Europeans from Italy.
I am NOT Hispanic,
Hispanics are Anglo Europeans from Spain.
In the United States each of us has the right to have our ethnicity clearly acknowledged.
I don't know how true this is, after all it was on a t-shirt. But damn, it sure sounded good.
Word of the day: glower