The Time I Met James Patterson, or How to Make a Relationship Manager Shit Her Skirt

Writing my last review made me reminisce about James Patterson.  At various stores, at various times between 2001 and 2007 I worked at Barnes and Noble.  My first and third times were at the Montgomeryville location, which will always be my true love.  I honestly can’t remember what Maddie’s official title was, but basically she was responsible for bringing in authors and hosting the various bookstore events.  She’s amazing.  I was hand-selling the hell out of Shawn McBride’s awesome Green Grass Grace.  I tried to get that in everyone’s hands.  I told them to read the first paragraph.  If they were offput, it wasn’t for them.  If they laughed, they’ll love the shit out of the rest of the book.  Seriously, it opens “Hellfire hallelujah and halitosis.  Mike Schmidt sits to pee.  How you doing, fuckface?”  I sold over a hundred fucking copies of that book.  So Shawn McBride was coming to our store for a book signing.  But it was one of the nights I had a rehearsal or something or other. So I couldn’t be there.  Maddie told Shawn what I’d been doing, and she got me a signed copy of his book.  I still have it.  I have given every book I’ve owned to the library, with the exception of that copy of Green Grass Grace and the copy of Ask the Dust that Corbin Dunphy gave me.  It’s that awesome.  And so is Maddie.  And so is Shawn McBride.  Where’s Stickball City Sweethearts, fuckface?!

Anyway, this was post the story I told in the other section.  About my railing of the quality of Patterson.  James Patterson was doing a book tour, and he was stopping at the Montgomeryville store.  And I happened to be working that night.  Now, everyone knew my penchant for telling the scathing truth.  And my feelings on James Patterson.  So they were trying to keep me busy.  Through shuffling of jobs and responsibilities, it some how became evident that they needed someone to stand next to James Patterson and place “autographed copy” stickers on the hardcovers people were having signed.  And one of the managers missed the memo — or perhaps were keen on chaos like I was — and ended up selecting me.  So there I was, standing next to James Patterson as he was signing books, as his legions of fans walked past.  And I stood there, smiling, and sticking the stickers on the books.

Across the store, I see Maddie.  And Maddie sees me.  And the look on her face.  Oh, my God.  Her eyes got wide and her mouth dropped and she almost made the Geena Davis face from Beetlejuice.  And my grin got wider.  And I winked at her.

But, c’mon.  I’m not a fucking psychopath.  Did they honestly think I was going to like grab him by the collar and rail at him for franchising crap?  No.  Once the line had passed, he turned to me and kind of sighed contentedly.  And I told him how much I really enjoyed the Alex Cross books at the Women’s Murder Club books.  Which is true.  Hell, I still read them.  The signing was for Big Bad Wolf, which I actually thought was really great, and told him so.  I said, “I really like what you did with the villains.  You do bad guy really well.”  Which he did.

I did however pester him a little.  I said, “Man, you really crank out the books, you must have the planned out way in advance.”  And he said, yeah that’s true.  So I asked, what was coming next.  And he kind of sideeyed me, and I said, “C’mon, it’s me, who am I going to tell?”  And so he told me that the next two were London Bridges and Mary, Mary.  And I smiled and said, “Nice.”  And then Maddie escorted him to the back to relax before his car got him.

Still not the greatest book signings ever.  That was easily The Berensteins, Stan and Jan.  Oh my God they were made of magic and stardust.  Just an adorable couple and so sweet.  Even if they did dogmatically poison our youth with false morality.  Who cares?  They’re fucking awesome people.  Also, there was the time in Boston when Bill Clinton came to do a signing.  They basically shut down the entire store. It was intense.  But at the end we all got to pose for a picture with him.  He’s seriously the most charismatic person — he actually seemed to glow.  It was phenomenal.


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