Since my book tour began, I have received, on average, about 700 emails a day from fans and supporters. Many have been simple notes of encouragement, others have been desperate pleas for contributions to small, unimportant magazines, but most have been comprised of three basic questions. First, will you have sex with me? Second, where can I find your book? Third, did you really do a reading at Coney Island?
My answers run as follows: possibly, in bookstores and on the Internet, and darn tootin’ I did.
Every reading on my book-tour schedule is real. They have all happened, and will all continue to happen, with the exception of the songwriting workshop at Wrigley Field, which I am removing from the schedule due to previously unplanned domestic obligations. People have come to these readings, and enjoyed themselves. Let me provide a brief but amusing summary.
Sept. 6, Fenway Park ticket window, Boston: Approximately ten people in attendance, including reporter and photographer from Boston Phoenix and Peter from Lancaster, PA, who was in town for a job interview. Read “One Writer’s Routine” and “The Albania of My Existence.” Answered questions. Did imitations of Bill Buckner and Carlton Fisk. Sold four books out of backpack.
Sept. 10, Ellis Island, New York City: Six people made it onto the 3:30 ferry, which was the last of the day. These included Karl Tobais Steel, a medievalist from Columbia University; May, who works for the ACLU; Mary, who is “floundering;” Mike, who doesn’t like to laugh; and Elizabeth, who has made the unfortunate choice of working as a theater techie. Read from “Leaves of Grass.” Read “Secrets of the Mystery Jew.” Read from Karl’s Old-English-language version of “Beowulf.” Went on tour of museum. It was Jenny Lind Day, and we met a Jenny Lind impersonator, who asked us if we were from Israel. We said we were not. She then led us in a chorus of “Oseh Shalom Bimromav,” as we linked arms. Sold three books. My friend Debbie, who was in attendance, later looked up a web URL that Jenny Lind had given us. Turned out that Jenny Lind is a Jew for Jesus.
Sept. 11, Coney Island, New York City: Met at aquarium at 2:30. In attendance were Courtney, Amy, and Neal (no relation), all sociology graduate students, and Robin, who is in journalism graduate school at Columbia and is covering Brighton Beach. Ian Lendler and Jason Eaton rounded out the crew; they are hopeful young humor writers whose website, Freedonian.com, should be going up within a week, and will be quite good. Read “My Week At Sea” in dolphin stadium. Announcer from dolphin show interrupted me on purpose. Saw dolphin show, which included a sea lion named Fonzie. Attended penguin and otter feedings and asked intelligent questions, particularly Ian. Went to seahorse exhibit. Courtney, who was grumpy, left early. Ian and I went swimming in ocean while others watched. Group posed for Polaroid on beach. Played skeeball and won enough tickets for Tootsie Pops for the group. Rode bumper cars. Unsuccessfully tried to trade book for T-shirt at Freak Show gift shop. Rode carousel. Read “Portrait of an Andalusian Horse Trainer” in front of carousel. Rode subway home.
Sept. 12, 30th Street Train Station, Philadelphia: Intern Laurence and I arrived 45 minutes in advance of reading and met friend Jen Rehill, from WHYY radio. Ate delicious buttered pretzels. Peter from Lancaster showed up again. I asked him why he didn’t come to normal readings. He had no good excuse. Three women in black mini-dresses and bright orange wigs appeared. Apparently, I had gone to college with one of them. They said they were from The Monkey House, a dance troupe performing in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Other people came, including Andrei, who had been unjustly jailed during the Republican National Convention. We went into the men’s room. I read from book. Toilet flushed. Woman asked, “Why don’t you go to the women’s room?” So we did. I began to read. Cameras went off. Custodian kicked us out. We returned to men’s room, where I stood on ladder. Thirty seconds into reading, Amtrak police officer appeared. He began hassling women with orange hair. Crowd dispersed, especially Andrei. I took the rap for everyone. Laurence called the McSweeney’s Representative in a panic. Cop took my driver’s license and ran a background check on me. Philly bike cop showed up and informed me that this was private property. Next time, he said, try to inform someone in advance that there will be a reading. Moment of danger passed. I moved on.
Sept. 13, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.: Only Ashley Gauthier showed up, and that’s because she was supposed to interview me. I offered several people the opportunity to go on a “McSweeney’s Tour,” with no takers. Ashley and I read the Gettysburg Address aloud, then conducted interview near Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial.
Sept. 14, BWI Airport, Baltimore: No one came. I had them page “Timothy McSweeney.” Then I got some writing done.