Come eat free onion rings and make me feel better about myself

Note: This column appears in the 5/12 issue of The Glendale Star and the 5/13 issue of the Peoria Times

On Friday May 20, from 3 to 5 p.m., I will be at Firebirds Restaurant in Peoria signing copies of my new and only book, So, Do You Like … Stuff? I have absolutely no idea what this is going to be like.

My biggest fear, of course, is that no one will show up. To combat this, I have kindly asked all three of my friends who live in Arizona to come and support me. My plan, if no one else shows, is to pretend that I do not know these people, sign their books, pose for pictures (with the forthcoming captions describing them as “fans”), and then demand that they go home, change clothes, and come back. My only fear, of course, is that they won’t show up.

Luckily, my parents are almost certain to be there. They are traveling all the way from New Jersey, not so much for this as to, as my dad said, “check out more of Phoenix … do they have a zoo or something?” but still. It is certain to be a very emotional event for them. When I was a sophomore in high school, I was almost suspended from school because I, in an effort to make my friends laugh, walked into a nearby liquor store, picked up two bottles of something and danced like an idiot in the direction of the store clerk, put the bottles back then ran away, at which point the cops picked me up. It was the best ride home ever! Undoubtedly my parents wondered if I’d ever amount to something, and now they will proudly watch me sign copies of my book—one chapter is about clogging the toilet—for several friends who I am pretending are strangers.

Also, many of the subjects of my weekly columns will be there. For example, a stray shopping cart, some giant flying tacos, and several local dentists, pending approval by Firebirds. And who knows? Maybe a certain one-year old who I write about way too often will be in attendance screaming with joy, or anger, or for no reason whatsoever. She gives hi-fives now, so that should kill an hour or so.

Actually, speaking of her … Shortly after we adopted our daughter last summer and I wrote about it, we traveled back east for a mini vacation. When I returned to work, a pile of mail sat on my desk, as expected. As I sifted through the pile, however, I pulled out a few heartfelt, congratulatory cards from several loyal readers. Besides the overwhelming gratitude I felt towards those wonderful people who took the time to acknowledge such a life-altering event, it was a seminal moment for me personally, as it made me say—wow, people are actually reading my column.

So, if you are indeed one of the confirmed several people who enjoy, tolerate, or just indifferently read the column, please stop by Firebirds next Friday. I want to thank you. I want to thank you mostly by selling you my book, but also with a handshake, or maybe a hug if it’s deemed appropriate. You’re not a pervert, are you? We’ll see, I guess.

Bring your copy of So, Do You Like … Stuff? or buy one there. I will write or even draw almost anything you want inside the book. I’ll be set up near the bar area, where happy hour prices will be in effect. Appetizers will be complimentary. Also, please bring a change of clothes, and maybe a wig, just in case.