When I was in kindergarten, I didn’t talk much. In my report cards from that year, my teacher, Ms. Philippi, commented on my silence and encouraged me to speak up more. Well, that was a bad idea. My report cards from first grade on included not so gentle suggestions that maybe I should pipe down a bit.
Once I got out of school and entered the world of adults, I still had plenty to say, but as the years went by, I found the written word as an outlet. I write stories now. Sometimes full-blown novels. And every once in awhile, I may even publish a thing or two. I’ve yet to find much of an audience for my books though.
What I do have are some friends and family who are incredibly supportive of my efforts. They buy every book, some post reviews, others don’t but tell me they really enjoy my writing style. These friends and family also, if they buy the paperback versions, find a place for my books on their shelves and ask me to sign them.
One of those friends is a guy I worked with years ago. My sons and I affectionately refer to him as Fartman. Why? Because at work, he played this game with a couple of our other colleagues. When he had to let one rip, he’d walk into an office, fart, and then walk out. Hence … Fartman was born.
We only worked together for a couple of years before he was off to another job, but our friendship endured. Lunches regularly, text exchanges, the occasional phone call. Fartman is the type of guy who is always laughing, sometimes in conjunction with some absolutely brutal words he uses for somebody else, and he always brought laughter out in me too. Isn’t that a great thing to have in a friend?
When I started publishing things, he became one of my biggest fans. He has a copy of everything I’ve put into print and as he has gone from job to job to retirement over the years, his stack of my books has gone with him to each office he has occupied. He has repeatedly referred to my books as prized possessions. Things that he treasures.
Which brings us to today.
A former co-worker has a side business. She makes beautiful cookies, decorated in whatever theme you want. I asked her for a dozen cookies made to match my son’s favorite football team. While we were messaging about my order, she mentioned that she used to enjoy reading but hasn’t read much lately. She added that seeing me post about my books had inspired her to start reading again and she would start with my books. We agreed that when I picked up the cookies, I’d sign whatever she purchased.
This morning was pick-up and autograph day. She had purchased two of my paperbacks. I signed the first one with a note thanking her for her friendship and turned to the second book. I opened it. There was writing on the first page. What? I thought to myself. Somebody sold her a book after writing in it? Doesn’t sound like Amazon to me.
I looked closer. Wait a sec. That’s my handwriting! That’s my signature! That’s the note I wrote in the copy I signed for Fartman!!!
I took a picture and texted it to him with a note. You have some explaining to do …
We spoke a few minutes later. We couldn’t stop laughing about this. Fartman has absolutely no idea how his prized possession, a copy of my first novel, ended up being sold on Amazon via a third party seller. As far as he knew, it was in the stack of my books he kept in his home office ever since retiring.
Our favorite theory of what happened is this. He and his wife are very orderly. They de-clutter frequently. Somewhere along the way, the book got mixed up with other books and went into the donation pile. From there it went to Goodwill, who included it in a bundle of stuff they offloaded to somebody else. The Amazon third party seller who sold it to my cookie-making friend? Orange Zebra, a company based in Texas. We are definitely not in Texas.
Think about the coincidences that had to occur for all of this to happen. It’s just so bizarre and worth a laugh.
By the way, I liberated his copy of the book by offering a new, clean copy to the cookie-maker. I’ll return it to him the next time I see him. And we’ll laugh some more.