There were steps leading up to this moment. Actual steps and then stages may be the best way to explain. But first, for you non-knowers of L, an introduction. My friend, let us call her Lorelei, is a mother of a 2 1/2 year-old gem of a girl, a wife of seven years, and one of my longest and best friends. She is, well, typically reserved with a barbed wit and mostly reasonable. But some of that reason may have slipped away one Thursday night while visiting her in Atlanta.
I mentioned, perhaps, the free wine at the Atwood lecture/reception located on the lovely Emory campus in Decatur? Wine, in the slight chance you have not made an acquaintance with its effects, can cause spontaneous, impractical and uncharacteristic behavior when consumed in excess. That said, it was free, we are all poor on some level, and there was a mighty long line winding its way to the tower where Ms. Atwood diligently scrawled and was photographed by the adoring masses. So, understandably, excess— and free excess at that — was unavoidable.
Lori um, hmm, sorry— Lorelei was in rare form already by the time we decided to brave the stone stairs and the wait. The beauty of French men was discussed with strangers.TheOntari-ari-ari -O song was practiced. Contemplation of random objects Margaret Atwood could sign was carried out. I vetoed both the rendering of the Ontari-ari -o song and the mammogram reminder as autograph receptacle as perhaps a bit too much for the (surely at this point) exhausted author. Oh, and we were the caboose at the end of the train of people. So, hopefully at least that fact gave Atwood pleasure at seeing our motley, slightly intoxicated crew crowding her with random tidbits. And by random tidbits, there was my, (stupid, stupid) proclamation and gratitude over a line of text from the Penelopiad . But Lorelei, oh Lorelei, well I think she will be remembered for her particular tidbits. Those bits being:
“Hi! My nickname is Lorelei”
MA: “Really, your parents named you Lorelei?!”
“No, no!” (on her knees now to better view Ms. Atwood at eye level and propped elbows, head tilted above signing area) “my friends just call me that.” (I should admit that I did harp in and attest to this fact.) “And I too am also from Canada!” (I’m cringing at the possibility of On-tari-ari-ari-o and noticing laughter filter from hallway and around us.)
“Yes” (some warbled tale of now being American) “and I want you to know that I think I may get the cover of your book tattooed on my body.”
MA (eyebrows raised in alarm or concern or humor — hard to say with the Canadians): “And where are you getting this tattoo?”
“On my leg, above my ankle” (and then some more rambling).
Needless to say, I think our Lorelei made an impression. Something I failed at, completely. Next time, more free wine before I meet an author. As for the general audience, L’s presence was felt there as well. Tears were flowing from our eyes. Everyone we knew, and that knows my darling Lorelei were laughing. The moment was so rich, that in the process, I lost the very book I just had signed by the lovely, gracious, and highly entertained Ms. Atwood. So if you find a signed copy, let me know.
And Lorelei, thanks for allowing me to tell your tale. To the rest of you: beware tables laden with free wine.