When touring in Atlanta for Moose last week, I made a bet with Brian Frazer (Hyper-chondriac). He, along with Michael Ian Black (My Custom Van) was one of the authors there presenting at Park Tavern, moderated by Atlanta’s own Hollis Gillespie (Trailer Trashed). The airport in Atlanta is mecca for all things Delta, so if you arrive on a Continental Airlines flight, be ready to be ignored. I was in the furthest seat, at the furthest gate, on the furthest concourse from where I needed to be meeting my escort: baggage claim. One of the lovely things about being on book tour is that you’re provided with a media escort, someone to get you where you belong in a timely fashion, be on your arm should ugly questions or suitors arise. Really, I just like saying the word escort. I couldn’t find mine. How was I to know I needed to take two people movers, an escalator, and a train to find her, there, standing behind a roped off area, screaming my name like a mother who’d lost her child. She was a heavy-set woman with a mop of curls and questions, wondering what the hell took me so long. "The boards say you landed forty minutes ago." I had to poop, I tell her.
She was standing beside Brian Frazer, a talented writer and stand-up comedian who met his wife while they were both writing the pop-up bubbles for the show Blind Date. I hadn’t been ready for the cold eastern weather, so he offered me his coat. I braved it instead, and once we found our escort’s car, I really braved it. Brian had the forethought to offer me the front seat. I’m not much of a driver, but I’ve been known to at least toy with the idea of using a side mirror for something other than a bumper. I was thankful when we hit traffic. An hour later, when we were upon our hotel with little under a half hour before we’d need to leave again for our "panel"–which wasn’t so much a panel as three people sitting on stage, taking turns–our escort bid us adieu, saying it was such a lovely car ride, what a pleasure getting to know us, "Well, I really wasn’t planning on it, but now I’m going to come hear you two talk at the tavern tonight." We said our good-byes and thanked her. Once Brian and I were inside the hotel lobby, I turned to him and said, "Wanna bet?" I am not so much a betting woman, and rarely does it strike me to even want to bet, unless I’m near a roulette table, mahjong tiles, or within a two-thousand mile radius of a carnival. "I’ll take that bet," he said, sure she was being genuine, that she would absolutely be there. "Man," I said, "for a writer, you can’t read people."
"Oh, you’ll see," he said, "you’ll see. She’ll be there."
I had my dollar at the ready, folded in the front pocket of my jeans. I didn’t think I’d need it, but I was ready for him to mock me with "way to read people." I’ll put you out of your misery now. Our escort never showed. Brian conceded, handing over his dollar. We went on stage, did our bit, then sat at our own tables signing books. When the lines began to thin out, Brian stood up, calling to me from his table, "I want my dollar back! Look, she came after all." I’d been drinking and wasn’t sure what he meant until I saw him pointing at the heavy-set escort with the mop of curls. She waved. I handed over my dollar. And all I could think was, "Wait, why isn’t she holding a copy of my book? Why isn’t she on line to have me sign her book, too?" I felt totally slighted.
Once everyone had gone, Brian, Michael, and a host of others from the night went out for dinner. On our way there, Brian turned to me with an outstretched hand, "Here’s the two dollars. You won. That chick wasn’t our escort after all. She kept saying, ‘I think you have me confused with someone else.’" I felt better on all counts, even if in the end I wasn’t much of a people reader, unable to tell the two heavy-set women apart. As we left the restaurant, a homeless man asked for some spare change. I looked to Brian, who looked to me; we both nodded, then I handed our bet money over. ‘Cause really, you’re never really allowed to cash in on things like that unless they’ve marked you for counting cards.