Friday, August 9, 2013


Okay, it sounds kind of odd to call Weird Al Yankovic a writer, considering his prominence in music, but he HAS written two books.  He’s out promoting his new release, MY NEW TEACHER AND ME, a kids book about the importance of creativity, even at the price of truth.  I found out that he was going to be at Anderson’s in Naperville for a signing, so I preordered the book and got my number in line:  236.  Yikes.

Of course, I knew it was going to be extremely crowded.  Anderson’s may be pretty big for a family owned bookstore, but it’s still a small place.  I expected maybe 500 or so people to show up, and I really didn’t think they could fit that many people in there.  Maybe not even legally.

So I made sure to get an early start.  I got out of work, rushed to my comic book shop (it was Wednesday, after all), and sped out to Naperville.  I got there about an hour before the signing was scheduled to start, and I was surprised to find that there weren’t a lot of people there yet.  I discovered that he wasn’t going to do any kind of show or anything; he was just going to sign.  That was probably for the best.  There’s no way they could have accommodated 500 people that way, especially since his signing the previous night had taken five hours.

After I got my book, I scouted out a place to sit.  Just in time, too, because that’s when people started flooding in.  I got real comfortable, because I knew I’d be there a loooooong wait, and I zipped through Weird Al’s book pretty quickly.  It’s a fun little read.  It’s exactly the kind of book I would have worn to pieces when I was two.  I then started reading my comics.  I got through about half of them before he arrived.  By then, the bookstore was packed from wall to wall, and everyone was ready to murder each other over a place to sit.

I got through all of my comics and more than half of the novel I was reading at the time before the night was through.  I heard them calling out blocks of numbers and lining them up in the stacks.  Even though he was only signing the book and nothing else, the line went cripplingly slow.

The thing that surprised me the most was how many fat people were in that room, and they were all completely inconsiderate.  I’m a fat guy myself (255 lbs. as of this writing, something I’m trying to change), but I don’t go around carelessly knocking into people with my flabby gut and NOT apologizing to people.  I was jostled so much by these people, it’s insane.  There was plenty of room between my chair and the bookshelf in front of me, yet all these fat people kept knocking into my knees, sometimes violently pushing my legs away.  None of these fuckers so much as acknowledged my presence.  Seriously, these guys were so big I wondered if maybe they were auditioning for a sequel to the “Fat” video.

Anyway, they finally called my block of numbers, but when I got lined up in my cattle chute, we found out that he was still on the 170’s.  Fuck.  I’d given up my good seat for standing up for the next hour or so.  In front of me was a couple of young kids who were constantly making out.  Behind me was a quiet, polite woman who had bought two tickets so she could get something extra signed.  I sat between them and started reading again.  The woman behind me said, “That’s a good idea.  I should have thought of that.”

Before long, we were in the real line, and we could finally see the man himself.  He sat at a tall, round table, and he looked like a giant.  Also, he’s got a freakishly long face.  You can see it when he’s on TV, but in person, it seems even longer.

As we got closer, I could hear him bantering with his fans.  One guy said, “This is a pretty good book.  I read it while I was waiting in line.”  Weird Al replied, “You read the whole thing?!”  Another guy was so nervous that he knocked over the Anderson’s sign off to the side as he retreated.  Weird Al asked if he was okay, and the guy responded to the affirmative with a quaky voice.

Finally, it came time to meet him.  He was sitting down on a stool, and his head was just a bit above mine, which meant he was probably taller than he looked on TV.  Like, maybe six-three.  [Edit:  it turns out he’s six feet exactly.  He looks a lot bigger.]  He greeted me eagerly, calling me by name and shaking my hand with a firm grip.

I told him that many years ago, I’d seen him perform at Drury Lane in Oakbrook for his OFF THE DEEP END tour.  He remembered the show with a fond smile.  I then said that it was probably the only time stage diving had ever happened in that theater, and he seemed to get a kick out of that.

For those who don’t know, Drury Lane is a theater whose main demographic are retired folks who want to see classic plays and, at least once a year, a Debbie Reynolds concert.  Weird Al playing there is a very unusual thing, especially for OFF THE DEEP END.  The single off of that one was “Smells Like Nirvana,” so unsurprisingly, audience members felt the urge to stage dive.

After I told Weird Al that, he said with some faux-nervousness, “I wasn’t the one stage diving, was I?”  I laughed and told him it was people from the crowd.  “You know,” he continued, “that was probably the last time in my life I could have gotten away with stage diving.”

We laughed, and I shook his hand, thanking him for his time.  I then went on my way, which was a bit difficult because the way out was blocked by a lot of stuff.  I managed to get back around to the rest of the store when I found myself confronted with a phalanx of people standing in place, obstructing my view of the door.  Certainly a fat guy like me would wind up knocking people around on his way out to freedom, right?

Nope.  I sucked in my gut, slipped my bag around behind me, and made my way through that fleshy maze without coming into contact with anyone.  Not a single person.  And even if I had, the first words out of my mouth would have been, “I’m sorry.”

No comments:

Post a Comment