Ever since I read the novel Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters, I was in love. With her writing, of course. I also became a fan for life.
Two years ago, I received an email from one of my buddies asking if I would like to hear Sarah Waters speak at The Cinema Museum in London, where she would be discussing the films that had influenced her writing.
My friend had me at Sarah Waters. She could have talked about fly dung for two hours, and I would have hung on her every word.
When we arrived at the museum, my friend was distraught because she had to leave early and wouldn’t be able to have her book signed. A staff member overheard and waved us over.
Before everyone else was admitted entrance, we were shown inside, and guess who was there. Yep, Sarah Waters and two other women, maybe more. I only had eyes for Sarah.
My friend blustered into her dilemma, explaining she had to leave early because there would be fireworks that night and she had to go home to get her cat inside.
Ms. Waters listened. I hadn’t spoken a word, and to be honest, I hadn’t followed everything my friend said and missed something important since everyone was now staring at me.
I need to back up a minute. When I’d first met my friend in the lobby, she handed me a plastic grocery bag containing a calendar showcasing my friend’s ginger kitty. She makes these cat calendars each year.
Okay, back to the fangirl moment. When I wrote everyone was staring at me, they were actually staring at the plastic bag in my hand.
My friend, seeing I was at a loss, explained to me that she wanted me to show Sarah the cat calendar. The one that I hadn’t removed from the bag, let alone from the shrink wrap. Clumsily, I handed it over, blushing because here I was, standing in front of one of my writing idols and I couldn’t utter a word. And to add insult to injury, I couldn’t get my brain to function enough to remove the calendar from the plastic so Sarah could actually peruse the photos, which she was clearly interested in.
Ms. Waters glanced at the cover and then the back, which didn’t have a photo, and looked at me as if she had no idea what to say or do. Please don’t think I’m implying she was rude in any way. She was extremely nice. But I’m willing to guess she’s pretty shy. During her talk later that night, she was adorably shy.
But back to my moment. I was literally the fangirl who couldn’t carry on a conversation. Heck, I don’t remember even saying hi. I just stood there like an imbecile.
Soon afterward, Sarah Waters was ushered away from the people streaming into the lecture room.
And my chance to talk with a fellow writer was gone.
Actually, that wasn’t entirely true. After Sarah’s lecture, I had her sign my copy of Affinity and I managed to say thank you.
Now, in my mind, I rehearse in case we ever cross paths again, because it could happen. I picture myself standing confidently, with my hand outstretched as I say, “Hi, Ms. Waters. You touched my pussy calendar once.” Of course, in real life, I doubt I’d muster the courage. Or worse yet, I would blunder the line, offending her or ending up arrested.
Okay, if I ever do get the chance to speak to Sarah Waters again, I’ll stick with saying, “Hello.”