Friday, October 30, 2009

Will you Sign My Daddy's Book? Simmons Signing, Part I - The Prelude

It was 1998.  I had just graduated from finishing school and I was working 18 hour days on the 26th floor of a Boston highrise.  One day, while I was toiling away in a windowless office, a friend sent me a link by email.   Maybe it wasn't even a link at that point, since it was 1998.  So maybe he called to tell me to go to Digital City to read a column called "Grading the Wimbledon Babes" by some guy who called himself the Boston Sports Guy.  Looking back on it now, it's still the funniest thing I had ever read, and I wish that that column survived his move to ESPN.  Alas, after an hour of searching, this column still does not exist.

Now 11 years later, and despite 11 years of enjoying his columns, I was skeptical when I heard he was working on a basketball book.  I mean, his baseball book was merely a reprinting of his old baseball columns with very little original content.  In fact, I think my daughter now uses that book plus the Sum of All Fears to reach the toilet when she goes to the bathroom and the sink when she brushes her teeth.  Despite this apprehension, I decided to spend the $25 to purchase his new book The Book of Basketball.  As the nearest bookstore was half an hour away (seriously - a half an hour away, my kids will end up being semi-literate), I had to justify the drive by also getting my wife the latest Dan Brown novel too. 

While beginning to plow through his 600+ page opus, I discovered he was going to be in Boston signing his book before the Celtics game at a bar called Hurricane O'Reilly's.  Strangely excited about the possibility of a Leona Lewis incident involving Isiah Thomas, Gus Johnson and Bill Simmons (You can read more in the book, but Thomas threatened "trouble" if he ever met Simmons on the street because of a couple of scathing columns over the years), I decided to bring the kids into Boston and get the new book signed. 

Note to Readers. A couple of issues to address right away.  First, yes I could have gotten the book signed at a book store in the Back Bay a couple of hours earlier instead of at a bar 100 feet from the Garden right before a game, but the chances of "trouble" happening at 12pm in a book store were infinitesimal compared to a bar where people were partying right before a game.  Second, yes, my kids were with me, but I thought the experience might toughen them up a little bit.  Especially, my three year old daughter.

4pm.  Boston, MA.  I should have known that this was not going to be easy when I started haggling with the garage attendant.

"I'm not going to the game, I'm just going to be 15 minutes."  I say glancing at my 7 year old to make sure he keeps his mouth shut.

"Don't you know that there's a game tonight - 20 dollars?" the attendant asks me in some sort of unidentifiable accent. 

"What did he say?" my daughter asks me. 

"I have no idea."  I direct to her.  "I know that there's a game, but I'm not going to the game. I just have to drop off some paperwork with my accountants; I'll be right back." I direct to the attendant, believing that if I just make no sense, speak really quickly and throw in a little white lie, he'll just let me go.

"It's 20 dollars."  All right, fine.

As we walk down Causeway Street from the garage, teaching my children how to jaywalk when one has somewhere to go in a hurry, I notice a line queueing at the intersection of Causeway Street and Canal Street (where we have to go).  Oh shit, I think to myself, since I know this bar is halfway down the street.  Yes, this line 300 people deep was waiting to get this book signed.  "Well this line is longer than I thought it would be." I say aloud to no one in particular as we get to the end of the line.  I only mutter this sentence since stating the obvious was not going to endear us to anyone.  Additionally, as we get in line, thinking that there might be a sense of camaraderie similar to any lines you have to wait in with numerous others, I ask the guy in front of me "Is this the line for the Simmons book signing?"  Without a word and obviously not understanding my use of irony (or maybe it's me who doesn't understand it), he gives me a smirk, like I'm some sort of shmuck, and shows me his copy of the book we're both getting signed.  Thanks, man. 

Despite my seven year old's statement that that man was not very nice, and my five year old now SINGING about how hungry he was, I decided that we would wait in line until the bitter end.  It can't be that bad, I decide.  Further, I've driven an hour in traffic, probably risked getting my car keyed by the garage attendant and fended off numerous "I'm hungry" cries (and melodies as it's turning out) from the troops.  I'm not going anywhere.

Not so fast.  After thirty minutes in line and while watching dozens of smiling people walking out of the bar with their signed copy of the book, sometimes multiple copies, my daughter (Did I explain that she was dressed up as a ghost?) taps me on the leg.  "Daddy," she says beginning a little recognizable dance "I have to go to the bathroom..."  I let the words trail off pretending not to hear them, while hoping that she was just bored.  By this time, she was entertaining everyone around her dancing in her ghost outfit and scaring them with her teeth-chattering "woowoowooooo."  "Dad, I think she really has to go to the bathroom" my seven year old volunteers, trying to be helpful for the first time all afternoon.  "I know."

"Seriously, sweetheart, are you sure you can't hold it for 15 more minutes?" I acknowledge after a couple of minutes.  I've been shooting white lies all over the place, so what the hell.

"No, Daddy.  I have to go to the bathroom right now."  She says to me sweetly. "Damnit damnit DAMNIT", I scream to myself as we walk out of line in search of a bathroom.  At least we kept a dozen people entertained when they otherwise would have been pissed waiting in such a long line.  As we walk by the line and I count the hundreds of people behind us, I now begin to worry that we spent all of this time and energy trying to get this freaking book signed, and it's not going to happen.

Tomorrow:  Part II - Redemption.

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