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Book Tour Day : My Secret Fear

I am on a book tour!

Since this is mostly school visits, the only public appearance I’m making is in Richmond VA, at BBGB Books, on Tuesday evening. (I think it’s at 4:30, but you might wanna check their webpage.)

Book tours are kind of lonely and weird and exhausting, but I’ve got a lot of editing to do while I am on trains and lurking in airports, so I should hopefully get plenty done. (For a bit it looked like I’d get to be on trains for most of the travel, which would be awesome, but alas, that got switched around back to planes.)

On the bright side, I wandered out behind the hotel with my binoculars and spotted a Northern Waterthrush bobbing its butt in the bushes, which is a life bird for me and not a bad one, either. And then I realized I’d forgotten my iPhone charger and walked over to the mall and did a little recreational shopping at something called “Lord & Taylor” that does not exist in the South.

And the food budget they give to authors–christ, I’d have to drink heavily and live on sushi to burn through it, even at East Coast prices.

Still, I’ll be glad when it’s over. Doing my little song and dance about comics five times a day in rapid succession for cafeterias full of fourth-graders doesn’t just take all my energy, it writes checks for energy that won’t technically exist for weeks.

Fortunately, my editor, agent, AND publicist from the publisher all know what I’m like…

AGENT: This is like hell for an introvert, isn’t it?

ME: Yes.

PUBLICIST: Cocktails are covered.

EDITOR: Maybe not Bloody Marys in the morning, but sheesh, afterwards? Treat yourself. Get room service!

ME: …I’ve never had room service…

ALL THREE: You’ve never had room service!?

(They find it odd when I pull weeds during conference calls, too. In some ways, we come from very different words.)

And then there was the incident with the TSA…

ME: Gonna need a female assist for an opt-out.

(I may have done this a few times.)

TSA: (gets my stuff, takes it over.) Stand with your feet outside the yellow marks. What are you afraid of?

ME: …huh? What?

TSA: I’m s’posed to ask the opt-outs what you’re afraid of.

ME: Ducks.

(I panicked, okay? I know, I know, I should have said something about a police state or loss of liberty or radiation. I’m not good at this.)

TSA: …ducks?

ME: They’re all pinchy, with the bills, you know…

TSA: (blank stare)

ME: (making duck bill hand gestures to try to communicate pinchiness.)

TSA: …

ME: I was attacked by ducks as a child.

TSA: ….

ME: ….

TSA: So, I’m gonna use the back of my hand on your sensitive areas…


(I KNEW somebody was telling them to hassle opt-outs! I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!)

(Incidentally, they have no script whatsoever for “fear of ducks.” She didn’t even tell me to have a nice day afterwards.)

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.

See, now, if you'd said Canada geese I'm sure there'd have been no confusion.

Afraid of?
.... the slow creep of Alzheimers?

Congratulations! You've just managed to make me actually *sad* that I have TSA Pre, because I'm not going to get to use that line. I mean, only for a minute.

That said, dear gods woman, if you're traveling that much, have your editors pay to get you TSA Pre before you do this again. It's like flying in 1994. You don't take your bag apart, you keep your belt and your shoes on, and you go through a normal metal detector. And by normal, I mean incredibly insensitive to jewelry and anything else. And the guy on the X-ray machine doesn't even really look at your bag. That plus status on an airline and it's all so much better. And maybe even think some point about buying a lounge membership so you can use the lounge for domestic flights (and expense it, natch), because this also makes your life much, much better.

...that's kind of bizarre that you become trustworthy enough to board a plane with minimal security checks if you rack up enough frequent flyer miles without blowing something up. I picture AQ sending a bunch of sleeper agents on regular round trip "business" flights for a year or so, while they all work out the fiendish scheme, and then waltzing through Pre-level security loaded with C4.

Bwahahhaa, ducks. That is amazing. Best response ever. And I totally understand the pinchiness with the bills. Not fun at all.
Incidentally, I'm a substitute teacher and an introvert. It's like, the worst job ever for an introvert. Luckily, my other personality traits make it rewarding anyway. But I'm an utter jerk by the end of the week and I want to see NO ONE.

Nice, you'll be right down the street from me in Richmond! I may have to come by and say hello. :D

There is no worse fate than to be nibbled to death by ducks! At least she was showing some sympathy, after all the back of the hand feels nothing like a duck's bill, so no PTSD flashbacks for you.

I can always count on you to make me laugh. And now when I put my ducks to bed for the evening, I'm going to look at them sideways.

If you are up in the Boston area, Especially on a wednesday evening, let me know. I know the folks at NESFA would like to meet you.

I think the incident with the TSA is worthy of applause.

I empathize on the introvert having to play extrovert stuff. Every day, man. It gets to ya.

I usually talk about my cool wedding ring (my eternitycollar that never comes off) and let them know I have done this a million times and have no shame

i try to get the chick to laugh and feel like she's doing something silly, since i know it's probably not fun at all to touch peoples hot inner thighs all day

I suspect it's much like being a gynecologist... as a guy, it sounds good in theory, but the reality has to be pretty horrific most days.

dammit. Now I am going to opt out next time I have to deal with the Thousands Standing Around, and if he asks what I'm afraid of, I'll have to say "Ducks", so it becomes a Thing and winds up as a meme to replace that LOL WUT Pear...

If two people do it, in harmony....

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
It should be swans. Mute swans, specifically. They are eeeevil, nasty-tempered, and tall enough to do damage on a shortish person or a child.

Never mess with a swan.

Mutes can break your leg, shortish or not.

If this ever happens to you, fall backwards. This gets your head out of range of subsequent remonstrations.

(Oh, and keep in mind that mutes are scared of trumpeters.)

And, wit or not, there's something lamentable about "irradiated or violated?" as a basis for permitting people air travel.

See, no one would even blink if you said "spiders," but I've never gotten a single injury from a spider in my whole life (despite a bit of a tendency to catch them and keep them in jars and feed them bugs). Ducks on the other hand, I've gotten a few good bruises from ducks - wing thwoppings and beak tweakings both. There was a very unhappy mallard, one time, pinch and twist, yeowch.

Ducks, I could easily be afraid of ducks. The bastards.

It is my hope that you can get back to your cider and defective wildlife as soon as possible. Best of luck on the tour, and take the advice of the people who want to spend money on you. ;)

Most of your commenters were all TOO comfortable with TSA's outrageous "irradiation or violation" policy, and the freaking PRE program is an obscenity!

Face it, folks, AQ has won -- when we went along with creation of TSA! What kind of "liberty" is this?!

Sorry to rain on the Big Brother parade, Ursula -- most of your piece was as delightful as usual...

Hugz, Justine

10000% agree. The PRE is appalling. Well, the whole thing is, but that's just a whole 'nuther level of outrage.


When I opted out on my way back from Arizona yesterday, I didn't get interrogated like that at all. The agent just asked how my trip to the airport was, so I complained about traffic on I-17 and that was that.

I definitely had the "it is appalling that I have to choose between the scanner and the pat-down" thought as I was going through it. Security theater, bah.

A Canada goose bit my pinkie finger when I was little, so I can relate. Mind you, some ducks can be outright civil!

*sporfles helplessly*
Who knows what feathery creatures could be hiding in those scanner machines?

March of the Sinister Ducks

Edited at 2013-09-23 01:25 pm (UTC)

Re: March of the Sinister Ducks

Love it!

My cousin was cripplingly afraid of my neighbor's ducks for a while, particularly during the tenure of the Black Drake of Death, when my cousin was the right age for child-fingers to be in chomping range. Luckily, I was the regular duck-sitter, and knew that the best way to immobilize a duck is to grab it around the bill (Like crocodiles (or is it alligators?), they can't open their mouth if you're exerting reasonable pressure to to hold it closed) and lift it into the air. If you're feeling particularly annoyed with the duck in question, this is a good position from which to hurl it.

. . . I'm also now thinking of some story I read as a child, where someone asks the protangonist a question along the lines of "What are you afraid of?" and instead of a single thing, gets a torrent: "Spiders, drowning, mean dogs, tornadoes, tarantulas . . ." and I can't for the life of me figure out what it's from. There's a similar scene in Cheaper by the Dozen, but I don't think that's it.

I think there was a scene like that in the TV series Monk, where the eponymous main character (a former police detective so crippled by phobias, OCD, and neuroses he needs an aide to be able to leave his house) is asked that question, and answers.

most every hotel on earth now has a cornucopia of phone chargers at the desk, stray gifts left behind by previous guests- you can borrow one for the night- usually. Just in case you run into the same issue again.

As someone who's worked Front Desk at a couple of hotels, I'd second this tip! The ones we give out are from lost&found that have been there past the 90-days claiming period, so if you bring them back we're thrilled, but if you don't we take it in stride. Although we're less and less likely to have the right version you need based on how recently it's come out (iPhone 5, I'm lookin' at you!).

Will there be pictures of you in front of the fourth graders?


Oh, ducks. I'd almost forgotten about the ducks I was terrified of as a kid. They lived a few blocks over from us, and we (mom, little brother, and I) would walk past them to the park. They were mallard-looking domestic ducks, but BIG, and very territorial, a hen and a drake.They'd chase us past the house until we were off 'their' sidewalk. Mom could only hoist one of us at a time, so my lil' bro got carried in safety and I had to run in fear of ducks.

(Also, obligatory TSA-security-theatre-is-a-useless-expensive-intrusion-into-society -- but we've all had that conversation before. )


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