Wednesday, August 31, 2005

king's night

swear, I've got the social graces of a traffic cone.

Last night was Whitney Terrell's big hometown second-novel party night, with a reading at Unity Temple and a reception at a loft in the Crossroads District. Allie and I went to both.

It started off well. The reading was great (though it reminded me of how pissed I am that Rainy Day Books is now requiring purchase of a book to attend). Whitney was really funny as he handled questions from the crowd. Allie and I laughed when he said everyone who writes a book thinks at various times that it sucks and the publisher won't accept it. He said that he had written an entire draft of this book and then had to throw it all away, all 800 pages, and start over, which is a hell far deeper than any I've suffered (knock wood).

His new book's funny too, though the very real story it tells isn't at all funny, at least not to me, which makes the book really complex and cool. I picked it up last Thursday and I'm enjoying the hell out of it. I liked his first book, too, a lot. But this one is a marked improvement. And he's obviously getting quite a bit of attention for it, what with reviews in People, Entertianment Weekly and all the big newspapers, and I think that's fantastic and well-deserved.

So it was all fine and dandy through the reading, because you can be a shlub at such things. But then we went to the reception and steamrolled into a series of social car crashes (actually, they were more like social getting-stuck-in-the-mud-out-in-the-middle-of-nowheres, because no one but me seemed to notice or care).

First, we pulled up to the loft where it was being held, and we were startled to find no-option valet parking. It was free, but neither of us had any cash to tip. Allie and I lingered for a while in the parking lot for a minute or two, frantically scheming how to get our hands on some cash. Allie looked into the loft's lobby, hoping to see an ATM, which obviously wasn't there. Then she asked if one might be within walking distance, but this place was situated in a no-man's land at the north end of Pennn Valley Park, a good half mile from a cash machine. I said I thought there might be some spare change in my care (sparing her the detail that it would likely be sticky with spilled pop), and she grimaced.

"Wait!" she said, hopefullly, "I have my check book. Maybe they'll take that."

"Cool," I said. "We can at least offer, and we won't look like total dicks."

So we went in, got the off-duty cop escort up to the third of fourth floor and stepped into an immaculate loft filled with people in nice, clean clothes. I looked down at my feet, shrooud in dusty Crocs, and damn near had a panic attack (It's not totally my fault: Gobo has eaten all of my attractive-yet-comfortable shoes, and I'm still too into summer and jobless comfort to succumb to the blister-making "church" shoes).

The elevator had let us out into a foyer, and I pulled Allie into a corner of it. "We have to leave," I said. "I can't be here dressed like this."

She tried to reassure me, and we took a couple of tentative steps forward to peer around a wall into the vast expanse of the loft (carpeted, BTW, Kansas City style). I spotted a guy in jeans and sneakers, and though they were clean, silvery sneakers, I felt a bit relieved. So we went in and got some drinks from the open bar, did a pass around the lovely snack spread, and planted ourselves in wallflower pots at the far end of the joint, where we stayed for most of our hour at the party.

We knew only a couple of people there, a reporter/editor from the Star, and old Pitch colleague, and, of course, Whitney and his wife Gayle. So, after squeezing as much conversation as we could out of our four acquaintances, and after doing an investigative sweep through the place to determine as much as we could about its owner (son of former mayor, Ilus Davis, we figured out, thanks to the framed memorabilia that said, essentially, "Son of former mayor Ilus Davis), we split.

And, wouldn't you know, we bumped into one of our best friends, Sylvia, just as the valet was pulling our car up. She was on her way in.

And the valets were nice when they said they didn't take checks. Allie wouldn't let me scrounge for change.

Maybe I should go to charm school.

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