Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Crazy Aunt Purl in the For-Real!

A little back-story: I had been in touch with KMKat (Kathy) by e-mail in the days leading up to the appearance of Crazy Aunt Purl at the Mall of America, and we planned to meet in the Food Court around 4:00 pm, get a bite to eat and then head down to find seats at Barnes & Noble. As it turned out, it took us a little longer to get to Minneapolis and find our motel; we'd really just gotten settled when my cell phone rang and it was Kathy. She said, as it was 4:00, she was just going down to Barnes & Noble and would save us seats. We arranged to hurry over and meet her as soon as we could.

We got directions, - and as mentioned before, found a parking space in the small lot directly in front of the main entrance of the Mall! Did you get that? Do you KNOW how huge that Mall is, how many thousands of bergillions of people are there every day? And this was in the afternoon. I mean, I always say I have good parking karma, but this was beyond all comprehension.
We hurried in, found B&N and found Kathy. There were nine chairs set up in the Cafe; Kathy was sitting in the middle of the first three, right up in front. She saved us the other two. RIGHT IN FRONT. I would have SO given her my first-born child, however that's the Lovely Daughter. I thought about offering her my second-born, or third-born -- but the truth is, they're a couple guys who, although I'm wildly adoring on them, it wouldn't be a reward for this kind of kindness.

It was around 5:00, so we did have a little time before Laurie was scheduled to appear.
As we hadn't eaten, Daughter went over and got us a couple of sandwiches. NOTE: there's a smoked turkey and cheese sandwich on grilled whole-grain panini bread with dried cranberries in it that is mag-NIFFFFF-icent. Go get one. I am. (Sure hope they have that at OUR B&N....) The Lovely Daughter finished up and went to rejoin KMKat; I don't eat very fast, but I did my best and then joined my new friend and the Daughter.

As the time grew closer, more people began arriving,and the Earnest Young Host kept looking around, getting more and more pale; finally he began dashing around to find additional chairs. As soon as he could set them up, they were filled. The level of excitement began to increase, and the speed of the knitting (almost everyone in the crowd was knitting) increased.

The crowd swelled, and although I am, without doubt, "quantitatively challenged", I'd say there were between 70 and 368,459 people there. There were folks sitting on the floor, folks all behind the table, people all around the walls. And you know what I noticed? EVERYone was smiling, and most everyone was knitting.

Then, finally, the Earnest Young Man stepped up to introduce Crazy Aunt Purl. He had the shell-shocked look of a guy who thought nine chairs would be enough for the signing of a selfie-helpie-knittie book with "Cats" in the title. Hey, I'm sure he was told beforehand, and WE all told him when we got there. Now he knows.

Then - there she was. Crazy Aunt Purl. Standing in front of us - I guess I wasn't surprised she's cuter than the pictures, it's usually like that. But she just beams and sparkles. Her voice is melodic, her accent (well, she doesn't have one, but WE do, so there's a difference) is downright fragrant. Hers is the Southern accent of garden teas in magnolia-scented bowers. She asked, often, if we could understand her, and we all laughed (gee, maybe she couldn't understand US!)

She read out of the book, and now I can hear her voice as *I* read it; what can be better than that? She read the part up to "And that is where this story begins."

Dare I say it? In spite of laughing, I had tears in my eyes. The tears that well up because your heart is squeezed with pride. Because Laurie's blog IS Laurie; because we've shared her achievements, we've worried over the cats, we've admired the new floor, gawped at the zucchini (DARN, I meant to as her to bring me some!). And then when the book came out we sat at that table with her, listening to her husband bemoan the loss of his creativity. And we've sat in front of our monitors, knitting, or hunched over the book with our cups of tea, and we've seen what a girl can learn and draw on and develop when she shakes her shoulders, wipes her nose and stands up straight. If she WERE my daughter or sister I couldn't be more proud of her.

And then it was time for "Q&A", and she seemed concerned that no one would say anything. Now, it DOES take a while, in that sort of situation, all of *US* were so in awe, so star-struck, that it takes a minute......but then there were questions. I wanted to raise my hand, not for a question but a comment: I wanted to shout "Laurie, LIVING WELL IS THE BEST REVENGE!" There were questions about what the notorious (poor, misled) husband is doing, or thinking, and may I say - Laurie answered without rancour, without bitterness, and with dignity and elegance and aplomb. You know, Midwestern Ladies may not have training identical to that enjoyed by Southern Ladies, but the messages are the same. In truth, I am a lady, capable of serving proper tea and behaving elegantly with the best of them. And Laurie? You did proud all the best of Southern Lady-hood going back to the hallowed halls of Tara.

My thoughts? Our young friend was a beautiful bride, and good wife, a gift to her husband. But he didn't do her wrong, not really - he gave her the gift of herself, and gave all girls in identical or similar circumstances the tools to live well, which IS the best revenge. Just sayin'.

Now then - here's where it gets to the beginning of Where I Lost It. Someone asked her a question (wouldn't you know it, even my Daughter can't remember what it was), and suddenly, SUDDENLY, Laurie said, "Where's Dale-Harriet, is Dale-Harriet here?" Please appreciate that I did NOT really act inappropriately! Please go back and read the bit about my being a lady. Please notice that I did NOT flop right out on the floor, right there in the front row. I did not burst into tears. I did not gasp so loud as to get hiccups-and-burps (which believe me are not ladylike and don't ask me how I know).

In fact? I have no idea what I did do. I think I raised my hand, and she said something that indicated she sometimes read THIS, and she said she liked my comments (I think). The truth is, my reaction was exactly like people have felt when they hear things like "Miss America!" and "that's the winning lottery ticket!" and "you get the role" and even "will you marry me?" She said my name. Right there, out loud and in front of everyone. She actually looked for me. And in spite of all these words (you may not believe this although I don't know why) I couldn't begin to express how I really felt. Suffice it to say, that's a moment I won't soon forget. That's a moment I can take out and savor all over again, if things aren't the way I'd like them.

There were other questions, other laughter, other dignified elegant responses. The outpouring of affection - going both directions - made for the rarified atmosphere of friendship, love, camaraderie which binds all us knitters and women and men who share things like cats and yarn and LYSs and UFOs and WIPs.

I admit it, I got pretty stalk-y to take this picture. Don't care, isn't she adorable?
Then came the signings, and I DID get the hug (oh believe me, it was APPROPRIATE) that I'd looked forward to. I got to give Laurie what I'd brought for her: two cow pencils with cheeseheads; two more cheesehead toppers for a set of straight needles, a few postcards (including one that really IS a photo of Madison on a day when it was -37 degrees). There were also the mandatory Badger stickers and a keychain reading "America's Dairyland". NOTE: you know that commercial that claims that the cows in California are happy? Here's why: that morning the farmer went out and told them all they're getting on a train to come home to Wisconsin. FYI.

There were pictures -- I think I look goofy and the Daughter looks so nice (of course, Laurie's a sparkly beauty); the Daughter called me to say she looks goofy and I look nice. Must be a genetic thing. NOTE: we're often told we look alike, my daughter and I - she says "I look just like my mother...except I'm taller and brown." Cracks me up every time she says it.

I read my inscription about eighty-leven times. I love books. I love ALL my books. But this particular book? A treasure. Nothing less. It's going in the bookcase I'm being buried with...don't worry, I have extra copies of most of the books going into that one. I'm just figuring the Egyptians might have been right, and I'm bringing books along to read in the Afterlife.

Eventually we left, wandered off, eventually went back to our motel (I did thank Kathy before she left, but not enough: THANK YOU, KMKat!) I've been turning that event over in my mind ever since, I'm rereading the book, and relishing the whole thing. Incidentally, I got to meet Theresa too (we have a raincheck for a proper chinwag some time in future) and saw lots of other knitters, and all in all the whole event was absolutely capital! All the fun we had that I wrote about yesterday? Spectacular, the whole mother-daughter-laughing-eating-cracking-up-knitting-eating-laughing thing. But the frontespiece of the whole event was that couple hours we went for. If you get a chance to hear Crazy Aunt Purl, on this book tour or any future ones that may transpire, you will find it more delightful than you can anticipate (and if you haven't read her book yet? Shame on you!)

'Nuff said.


Elizabeth said...

She knows you by name! Cool! Sounds like a wonderful trip.

janna said...

I saw her a couple days later in Peoria, with a whole bunch of non-knitters attending the Women's Lifestyle Show. I was so proud of her, like she was my much-younger sister, or niece, or something. She was wonderful, and even the non-knitters thought so! However, I have to say -- the Peoria Convention Center is NOT the MoA!

Anonymous said...

Having a hard time signing in so I'm anonymous for now. I saw Laurie at MOA too, and your words say exactly my feelings. I drove 3 hours to see her and also was in the front row. She signed my book first, and I gave her hand knit socks, handmade stitch markers, and 3 crocheted cat toys. We chatted a bit, and she gave me "the hug" and I got pictures with her. It was truly an amazing experience! I feel like I met an old friend again. We share so much with her, reading her blog, we laugh and cry with her, and cheer her on. She is a very special lady and I'm proud to say I met her.

I heard her call your name and saw you stand up, you were very gracious.

Hopefully Laurie will write another book and we can all do this again!


MollyBeees said...

What a wonderful entry!!! Your picture is posted on HER blog! You are a rock star Dale-Harriet! Hope to see you at KNit Night tomorrow night!
PS-Go back over to my blog when you get a chance. I just put up a photo of the Finger Food I made tonight. I always get the giggles when I make them. Recipe is on my cooking site.

kmkat said...

I got to meet a celebrity -- and Crazy Aunt Purl besides! :-)

It was fun and I'm so glad to have met you and LD and Laurie and Theresa and cursingmama and all the others. Let's do it again!

uberstrickenfrau said...

That was so beautifully written! I felt like I got to be part of the magic. Very cool indeed.

CathyCate said...

Thanks for representing Wisconsin so well! I would have totally have driven up from SW WI and met up with Kmkat (and therefore you, though you don't know me!) if I could have ducked out of work; except that I developed a nasty virus anyway, so wouldn't have wanted to travel or potentially expose others to it.
I did make it to Madison Friday for a singing daughter thing, so was able to visit the Sow's Ear! But alas, it was not the right Friday for Knit Night; and I talked to Beth of Chocolate Sheep on the phone but we couldn't get together (see virus above).
Anyhoo -- thanks for allowing me to vicariously have shared in your front row Crazy Aunt Purl Laurie cheesehead experience!

MX said...

Wow. I'm truly jealous but thrilled with your detailed coverage, thanks!!!!!

Cindy G said...

Woot! What a terrific adventure.

Lynne said...

Hey there D-H! It's me Lynne from Endz- finally reading your blog in return- it's wonderful! You are so eloquent, and clearly full of love. What a pleasure! I did send you an email, but I know you said that's not your favorite thing, so I'm hoping you'll see this and collect my appreciation for your comments on my blog, and for your own wonderful one.