Off the Wall

Book signing catches plenty of criticism for author

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"I found the title of your first book to be a misrepresentation of the contents," the guy says.

"Uh huh," I nod.

"One naturally assumes that a book called, 'My Love is Free ... but the Rest of Me Don't Come Cheap' is about hookers."

"Naturally."

"I read the whole book," he says. "Not one hooker."

"So, what you're telling me is, you'd prefer I use a more representational title."

"No," he says, "I'd prefer you write about hookers."

I'm sitting at a little table in a bookstore in Alabama, signing copies of my new book, "If I Were a Man, I'd Marry Me." Let's just say, should I ever write a book about prostitution, it will not be a total work of fiction.

"Make it to Sonny," the guy dictates, head tilted and leaning over the table to watch me write. "'Hope the operation goes well."'

"Operation?"

The man nods somberly.

"And Sonny is ..."

"My fiancee."

"Well, my books make great get well gifts," I assure him. "Laughter is the best medicine."

"Whatever," he shrugs.

"So, what kind of operation is Sonny having?" I ask gently.

"Sex change," he says.

Glancing up, I stare at the guy.

"You got a problem with that?" he asks.

"Nope. Not at all," I say as I write. "Have you considered buying two books one for before and one for after?"

Sweetie suggested I put a little sign on my table that said, "FREE KISS WITH EVERY BOOK." He figured getting arrested for solicitation in the state of Alabama would really boost book sales.

"I just wanna buy the cover," the guy says, stepping up to the table.

"Just the cover," I echo.

"Your legs are a little chunky," he says, staring at the photo on the book jacket, "but the shoulders are hot."

Now is probably not the best time to mention that those are not my shoulders in the photo. Through the magic of computer technology, they superimposed my face on a model's body. My body is much too hot to display on a book jacket.

"I don't think they sell just the cover," I say.

"You mean I gotta buy the whole book?" he huffs. This is right up there with telling Leonardo DaVinci to keep the painting of the ugly chick you just want the frame.

I stare at the guy, and he stares back.

"You can always throw the book away when you get home," I say. The guy gives this some thought.

"Yeah, OK," he says. "That'll work."

While I'm signing the cover, the guy studies me like a bug.

"You know," he says, "you look different in person."

"Ya think so," I say.

"Yeah," he nods. "Your rabbit ears look bigger."

"Honey, if you think the ears look big," I say, handing him his book, "just wait until you get a look at my fluffy tail." (Copyright 1999 P.S. Wall. Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate.)

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