In addition to the first reviews and the first declared pre-order (by my high school classmate Nancy — thanks, Nancy!) of The Day-Glo Brothers, I hit another milestone last night when I signed a copy of my book for the first time.
For a while I’ve felt weird about doing that — defacing a book that will soon be someone else’s property, especially when they haven’t asked me to. Plus, I have rotten handwriting in general, combined with an inclination toward random pen strokes that defy intent, motor control, and any known language.
But this copy was a baby gift for the newborn son of some friends who went out of their way to attend my reading at UT in March, so signing it — with a daylight-fluorescent orange paint pen, no less — seemed appropriate and worth the risk of screwing up.
Very carefully, on the title page I wrote the wee one’s name, added, “Here’s to 2008 arrivals!” and signed my name. I admired my work and went to bed relieved that I hadn’t botched it.
At some point this morning, after the book was tucked away in its gift bag, I vaguely sensed something was wrong. Then I sensed that something very specific was wrong. “Surely I didn’t,” I thought, but I had to check. Sure enough — and multiple sources have confirmed this for me — the current year is 2009, not 2008. I have no doubt that some fine individuals and books arrived in 2008, but this gift and its recipient were not among them.
What to do? Well, I’m cheap, so I didn’t want to remainder an entire book just because of one little digit, so I quite slyly wrote the bottom half of a “9” over the bottom half of the “8.” That looked about as classy as you might imagine, but it would have to do.
Or would it? A few minutes later, I took my pen and fattened all the digits in “2009,” jumboing up those characters but good as if to celebrate the bigness of this year in our respective lives but really just to make it less obvious that the “9” used to be an “8.”
And I think it worked. I dropped off the gift on my lunch hour today, and the recipient didn’t so much as squawk or bat an eye over the suspect nature of my inscription. Yes, he was asleep, but I hardly think we can hold that against him.