Upon waking, I don't feel any different. Hmm. Here in True Prep
Central Command, all is more or less normal. One daughter left for school on time; the other has a first period free. True, instead of rushing to my office to write or edit more pages (I think the book has enough text), I have to go to Brooks Brothers' main store on Madison Avenue in New York to conduct a "makeover" of a TV correspondent. It isn't the first, and it won't be the last. Otherwise, all is the same.
Yesterday, something did feel different. At a neighborhood restaurant where I was being interviewed for the 8th time yesterday, the reporter — an old friend — and I were talking in low voices, though we did have a copy of True Prep on the table. At a nearby table, I couldn't help but notice two women, who were sitting with their arms around one another on a banquette. One was older, and there was a stroller parked on the other side with a sleeping child. I could see his little still legs encased in jeans and tiny chunky sneakers.
These women were clearly intimate. Did the toddler belong to them, to the younger one? Were they going to kiss? As Ralph the reporter and I chatted about the past and the present, the women paid their bill, and the older approached. I thought she might chastise me for staring. Instead she looked at the book and said she couldn't help noticing the book on the table and listening to our conversation. She loved the first book and wondered whether I was the author. She couldn't wait to read the new book. Ralph pointed out there was a(n independent!) bookstore down the street. Shortly thereafter, the woman returned, minus her daughter and grandson, to have her copy signed.
Then a waiter wanted to talk about the book. Then a neighbor. Then someone I know from school. Then my doorman. It's a lot of attention for an under-the-radar type like me.
Last year at this time, I was spending my days trying to resolve a bad case of sciatica, hoping to avoid surgery by taking painkillers and anti-inflammatories and going to various practitioners. The pain was exhausting, unabating. And worse, I'd been through it before 12 years earlier, when surgery was my only option. I'd met Chip Kidd, and we'd talked about collaborating, and I had to write a book proposal with him. I may be in the minority, but I didn't feel my funniest on Vicodin.
When we got the news that Knopf was, indeed, going to publish True Prep, the days of oblivion had to end, and I eventually had another back operation in November. During the long days of pain and, well, more pain, I couldn't even imagine yesterday or today.
My back feels fine.