Spent a long day yesterday with the IRA. No, not that IRA -- these guys are the International Reading Association, and the convention center in Toronto is full of teachers, librarians, booksellers, and suchlike. Yes, there's a bunch of jokes about getting the IRA conventions confused, but I'll forgo them. (Forgo -- to do without -- rather than forego -- to go before, right? If I weren't so lazy I'd look it up. Probably take less time than typing the sentence. And that one. And ...) Anyway, there I was smiling and shmoozing and giving away copies of my backlist, having fun with American accents. New York is easy to spot, and there were lots of those. Ohio curiously nondescript (meaning like mine), Florida enormously like mine since the Floridians I saw were all ex-pat Canucks. Tennessee soft and Louisiana even softer, Texas hilarious because the lady was in a motorized wheelchair (you know, this sentence could have started better) which she couldn't control, and she ran over another lady's foot, and hollered, Whoa, theah! as if she was riding a runaway horse. Her apology was sincere, but I had to turn away to hide a smile. And then came a posse (I use the word advisedly) from Nevada. There was a line-up at my booth (I mean, the swag was free) and these dozen guys and gals held it up for a while, chatting, taking pictures, asking questions. I get along well with outgoing friendly Americans. Problem is, they take time. These guys asked me to come down (and over, I suppose) to Nevada next year to deliver a series of talks to schools and reading associations.
I said sure, figuring that they were joking, or being polite. Rreally? Rrreally? Would y'all do that? (yes, that's the way the words sounded) they asked me. I looked up at eager non-ironic faces. They blinked, and conferred, and passed out cards, and talked about how grrreat that'd be. (Written down, it makes them sound like Tony the Tiger -- not quite right). Nice, nice people. They stood around me, not awkward at all, without any idea of leaving. I didn't know how to get rid of them. I'm no good at being polite -- not on purpose anyway. Thanks heavens for New Yorkers. Hey, people waiting! shouted a paint-stripper voice from down the line.