I adore Pat Conroy.
This is not news to anyone who knows me or has been following Meanderings and Muses for any length of time.
I've written about him several times here, (and here, AND here) and relayed a story about a signing Donald and I attended in Atlanta for Mr. Conroy's BEACH MUSIC tour.
We had planned on going to see him in Asheville when he was there touring for SOUTH OF BROAD, but didn't make it.
So, you better believe when I learned he would be in Charlotte at Park Road Books for his THE DEATH OF SANTINI tour, I got excited and immediately started making plans to be there. It also happened to be the day before my birthday, which made it even more special. And then I found out Cassandra King, his lovely wife, would be doing a signing there also. For a book geek like me, this is just about the best kinda birthday ever.
Park Road Books is one of those perfect indie bookstores. They've been in business since 1977, so you know they are doing things just right, and have a caring, professional, fun staff to make everyone feel at home which keeps customers coming back.
And they have Yola
Yola is the store dog with presence, good manners and a huge hit with everyone. Yola prances from one end of the store to the other, head held high and let's you know it is a place to be proud of, by golly. I fell smack in love with Yola.
And then Pat Conroy arrived. He said hello to the crowd, thanked everyone for coming, and assured us we would have a good time.
And we did.
He is so gracious and so personable. Spending some time with every single person without making anyone feel rushed or pushed out of the way for the next in line.
He asked me what I did, and I told him I was retired. He asked what did I do to keep myself busy as a retired person and I told him I had written a book.
He asked if I had brought him one and I said, "Well, there are some here 'cause Park Road is going to carry my book."
And then he asked if he could have one.
So I said, "Well, sure!" (I mean - hey - really!).
I took one out of my tote and handed it to him and he said "Is it signed to me?"
Well, at this point, I was speechless. Yep. Me. Speechless.
He said, "Sign it. Go ahead."
And so I did. Shaking like a leaf.
And then it just got silly. Really silly. He was signing one of the books I had brought with me and told him that I appreciated him making an effort to be in North Carolina for my birthday. He asked when it was, and I said "tomorrow."
He said, "What's the number?"
Well, I thought he was asking me how old I was, so I cheerfully said (loudly) "Sixty-Five!"
Then I noticed he had written "Happy Birthday" in the book, and under it he had written "11/__/2013"
He wasn't at all asking me how old I was. He was asking the date of my birthday.
I immediately said, "Oops. That wasn't what you were asking, was it?"
He laughed and laughed, and said, "No, I would never ask that, but you certainly announced it with great enthusiasm."
I got so tickled I almost peed.
So, we got all that squared away.
I got it together enough to thank him, and to move along so the next person in line could enjoy a little bit of time with one of the greatest writers ever, and one hell of a nice man. Delightful!!!
And, I walked away without my feet touching the ground.
With some books inscribed to me by my literary icon.
Leaving behind my book, Whimsey: A Novel, inscribed to him.
And after a few minutes of happy dancing around my Donald, and catching my breath, I then went to Cassandra King's line.
She is every bit as gracious and as personable as her husband.
She is just lovely! I have always loved her work, but I have to say - MOONRISE touched me in a very special place.
What a great birthday.