(You’re Pretty, I’m Pretty, We’re All Pretty!)
Armed with a really good story about why we rolled into town half an hour late, we entered our destination town, triumphant! “Welcome to Manchester” said the sign. And there was much rejoicing! And then some more driving! And then “Thank You For Visiting Manchester.”
Then there was stopping at some random inn to declare myself “just a little bit lost,” followed by arriving at Joshilyn’s inn. And let me tell you this: people in Vermont are so cute and friendly! Observe:
Me: Hi there! I’m looking for Joshilyn Jackson.
Nice Innkeeper Lady: Well hello! She’s staying in the cottage right across the way, there.
Me: Great! Thank you very much!
Nice Innkeeper Lady: Just go ahead and knock, and if she doesn’t answer, I can get you a key!
Me: Fabulous! I just need to go get my axe first!
Clearly she had not talked to my friend the State Trooper to find out what a dangerous person I am. Or maybe she was just too polite to acknowledge it. Either way, I’m sure Joshilyn is very grateful that unidentified visitors to her lodging were aided and abetted–no questions asked!–in their stalking attempts.
Anyway. Luckily for all of us, Joshilyn was waiting for us with open arms. Also, I forgot to pack my axe.
So you know how there’s this uncomfortable period of time, right after you meet someone new–even if you’ve “known” them a long time–where things are just the teensiest bit awkward, and there are empty lulls in the conversation?
Me either. What I know about is much squealing and hugging and someone getting into my car, finding an unopened bag of Dove chocolates, and declaring “This is JUST WRONG!” while ripping open the bag and handing them out.
Also? Joshilyn really likes to have her picture taken. This–as anyone who knows me can attest–officially made her my soulmate.
Yeah. It was pretty rough going.
There was shopping! And hot dogs, on account of WE ARE FANCY! And talking; my lord, the talking. The constant, non-stop, utterly hilarious talking. Peppered with colloquialisms that led to interesting misunderstandings (we’re from different planets, you know) and sage bits of fashionista wisdom. Shopping with Joshilyn is a little bit like stepping into your very own Alias-meets-Paris-Hilton kind of adventure. She alternately 1) stalks her prey–circling an item, declaring “you’re pretty!” and drawing a dramatic breath before “I cannot be happy without this”–and 2) leaning in with slightly slitted eyelids and a tilt of her chin to dispense observations about our fellow shoppers such as “I cannot but help feeling that the poncho is… over” or “Vogue reports that white topstitching is OUT.”
I felt a little unworthy, there in my customary jeans, sneakers, and conspicuous lack of make-up. But then I’d try something on and Joss would beam and say “You are EXCRUTIATINGLY ADORABLE in that!” or “That’s hot!” and I was able to pretend that I, too, was one of the cool kids.
For more details on the shopping itself, you’ll have to wait for Chapter 3. Until then, what you need to know is this: While the friend I brought with me can shop and gab with the best of them, Joshilyn and I enjoyed the added dimension of hawking her book appearance that evening as well. “GIVE THAT WOMAN A MAGNET!” I would bellow, and Joss would obligingly whip a handful of gods in Alabama magnets out of her purse and distribute them. (Sadly, although the hotdog cart appeared to be, you know, ENTIRELY MADE OF METAL, the magnets do not stick to stainless. Not for lack of trying on the vendor’s part, though. You’re pretty, hotdog lady!)
Thus it was that we spent lots of money, hawked the book, laughed ourselves silly, were attacked by worms (I think I’ll leave that one for Joshilyn to talk about), and then the day was gone and it was time to let Joss get ready to meet her rep for dinner and then get to her appearance. We took her back to the inn, whereupon my hometown friend and I refused to leave.
What? Yes. We refused to leave. Had a lovely day, and all, and should’ve just retreated to allow Joshilyn a few moments of private time before the evening’s festivities. But I am nothing if not a total pain in the ass. Understand: it had been raining off and on, and the inn was two miles from the bookstore, and Joshilyn was wearing very pretty shoes NOT made for walking, and she wanted to walk. Rather than ask someone to pick her up. Terminally southern.
I made her use my cell phone (which worked; hers did not) to call her book rep, and she got his voicemail and hung up. I tried to convince her to leave a message and she reiterated that she could walk, no problem! So I called her book rep to leave him a message. Except that she realized what I was doing and snatched the phone from me, HISSING, “I take it back! You are NOT PRETTY!” and left him a message herself. Smart move. Given the choice between being a delicate southern belle or letting ME leave a message with someone whom you actually LIKE, which would you choose? Right. (Many many thanks to him for calling back, and picking her up.)
All of this is nothing compared to the evening. NOTHING. I thought Joshilyn could write (she can!), but what I didn’t know is that she gives amazing public speaking. She was, by turns, the picture of decorum and marketing and so deliciously animated while allowing us to peek into her head that I wanted to throw my underwear at the podium when she was done. (I was gonna, but I was wearing pants, and… oh, nevermind.)
Come on. How can you not adore a woman who strides up to the podium after the world’s most effusive introduction, turns and flashes that 100,000 watt smile, and then announces, “Hi! I am a COMPLETE DORK!” (She’d neglected to bring up a copy of her book. I personally think that would not have caused an automatic dork ruling, but it’s a brilliant way to break the tension, that’s for sure.)
Afterwards, we hung around while she signed a few (hundred) books, and then a group of us whisked her off to a quality local establishment. Here’s what I saw when I looked up, after sitting down at our table. Okay then!
In attendance was: myself, the friend I’d brought along, the extraordinarily lovely Erica (whom I didn’t KNOW that I needed to know, but I SO DID), Joshilyn, and Joshilyn’s book rep, Conan, whom we were expressly forbidden to address in any way that might attempt to poke fun at his name. Oh, wait–Erica’s husband came with us, too, but disappeared to watch cars going around in circles as soon as we got there. And for the record? I totally believe Conan would’ve been an admirable sport if any of us HAD tried to crack jokes about his name.
I asked my friend to take a picture of me and Joshilyn before anyone got drunk. She did. And the rest of the evening is sort of a blur. (No, not because of THAT. I was driving, and tired, and therefore stayed completely sober. Boo hoo.) The blur was the utter bizarro-ness of feeling like time was both standing still and moving too swiftly. And the laughing until it hurt. That too.
She may have almost forgiven me for phoning Conan earlier when I alerted the waitress that her drink was incorrect (over her protestations, natch). At that point she announced to the table that I had hit her, and then whispered to me “SHE IS GOING TO SPIT IN MY DRINK NOW AND IT WAS FINE I COULD’VE JUST HAD THAT ONE.” But the new (correct!) drink was so yummy that she declared it the “best tangy spittle” she’d ever had, so it all worked out okay.
We neglected to remind Joss to sign our books until after the festivities were well under way. At that point, she’d declared each and every one of us pretty, given magnets to the waitress and declared HER pretty, and talked about all the pretty people who’d made her book tour so very pretty. And then she sat with my book open in front of her, pen poised mid-air, until I asked her if she was actually planning on SIGNING it. This caused her to react with lightning speed, turning my arm into a masterpiece. Well, kinda. And I offer this by way of explanation of why I smell funny, now, because I can’t be expected to WASH that arm now, can I??
In the end, she not only wrote in my book that I’m pretty, but some other stuff that made me all teary, right there in front of everyone (even the gazelle? deer? animalwithhorns? that was poised to land on my head at any moment). What a bitch.
It was a trip I won’t soon forget. Joshilyn is pretty! SO PRETTY! And when I was with her, I was pretty, too.
STAY TUNED for the riveting final chapter of The Vermont Adventure (If At First You Don’t Succeed, Shop, Shop Again)! Coming soon!