Last Friday evening, the Fayetteville Public Library had Dave Barry in town as part of their Famous Author series. My wife, Connie, and I attended the reception prior to the show where we ran into my cousin and fellow author, JB Hogan. The follow story is my personal recap of our “Dave Barry Experience.”
“We were that close,” said JB, his forefinger and thumb spread apart the width of a blonde belly-hair. “I can’t believe that girl ran off after I gave her money.” His face flushed with anger and his eyes turned to camera-girl seeking missiles beneath a furrowed brow. Determined to locate her, he circled the room in long accentuated strides like Groucho Marx, minus the cigar. She could not be found.
I looked at Dave Barry and smiled. Oh well, maybe next time.
Another visitor stepped up to shake hands and rub elbows with the Funniest Man in America (according to the New York Times). Dave appeared cordial, but I could tell underneath that mask of professionalism, he was deeply hurt and disappointed.
Earlier in the evening, during our introductions, JB Hogan, my cousin and fellow writer, informed Mr. Barry that many people considered me to be the Dave Barry of Northwest Arkansas. To which Mr. Barry replied, “That’s interesting. Everyone considers me the Russell Gayer of South Florida.”
Dave noticed I had one of his books, “I’ll Mature When I’m Dead,” tucked under my arm. “Can I sign that for you?” he begged.
“Sure, that would be nice.”
“Is it Russell with two S’s and two L’s?”
“Yes, and you’d be surprised how many people can’t spell it correctly.”
“Well, I want to make sure I get it right,” he said, throwing open the book to the title page and scrawling his little note.
I was about to share some tips on writing humor with Dave when a porky, ex-politician shoved his way to the front of the line and interrupted our conversation. The only time those guys show any consideration is before you go in the voting booth. After election day, you’re just another grape to be trampled in vineyard of life.
Dave handled the situation with grace and dignity. He smiled, nodded his head, and shook the old boy’s hand like he really gave a crap what the guy was saying. I was impressed at how well he concealed his disappointment about missing out on the humor tips.
“What he’d write?” asked JB. I opened the book and showed him.
To Russell, my idol. – Dave Barry.
“Hey . . . that’s cool,” said JB. I could tell he was envious. It’s a good thing I’m such a humble person. A lot of people would let a compliment like Dave wrote go to their head.
After the missed photo op, we all went downstairs to hear Dave speak. We’d been seated ten or fifteen minutes when he finally walked into the room. Evidently, he needed some time to regain his composure after missing out on having his picture made with two of Northwest Arkansas’s finest authors. I felt bad for him, but the guy’s a real trooper. He kept the audience in stitches for an entire hour without showing how distraught he was over the photo.
I wish things could’ve turned out differently. There’s a big, bare spot on Dave’s web site that would’ve been the perfect spot for a picture of the three of us and provided a shot in the arm for his career.
Hell, I might even have posted it on my blog.
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