July 2, 2009

Spaghetti Hands

An old and dear friend of mine has recently published a book. A real book. Actual literature. His name is John Pipkin, and his book, Woodsburner, is really quite good. Well thought-out with intriguing characters, a compelling story and some beautiful turns of phrase. Not quite finished with it - life in limbo leaves not enough time for reading, so I'm only about a third of the way through. But it's been fun so far.

Earlier this week, John was in town. I took two nights out - mid-week, mind you - to go see him and his family, hear him read his book, and catch up on the last 14 years or so.

My kids were flabbergasted. Mom going out on a weekday? Mom actually leaving the house??? That's like SpongeBob doing a cameo on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Inconceivable.

So intrigued were they that they took time out of a tasty dinner of spaghetti and peas to grill me mercilessly on where I'd been and what I was doing on my two nights out. I felt like a teenager who'd just missed curfew facing her disbelieving parents. When I told the kids about John and his book, they demanded to see it. It's like I'd just said I was late because the car got a flat. They had to check that blown tire for themselves to be sure it was real.

I brought the book downstairs, but of course I wouldn't let them touch it. Pretty, pristine dust jacket meets spaghetti hands. Not good. The kids were duly impressed by the book all the same. Lots of oohs, lots of ahs. They liked seeing my friend's picture and his signature on the inside. My Aspie seemed particularly struck by John's name. He said it over and over: "John Pipkin John Pipkin John Pipkin." Cool name. I get it. I used to call him Pipkin most of the time myself, just 'cause I liked saying it.

The kids wanted to play after dinner, so I put the book on the stairs and forgot about it until bedtime. Promptly at 8:30, I marshalled the troops and sent them up ahead of me. They charged upstairs, my Aspie leading the way.

He took one look at the book and started hollering. "Don't touch The Pipkin! Don't touch The Pipkin!"

This struck me as inordinately funny. Really wish I could tell you why. (Though I suspect it has something to do with Remington Steele.)

Anyway, all three of them gave that book an extremely wide berth, which is hard to do on our stairs. I may have made that point about keeping their hands off just a little too clearly.

John's a parent, too. He started the book the week before his son was born. He wrote between 4 a.m. feedings and a boring job that paid the bills. Now he's a published author and a good dad to boot. Even his wife agrees. So buy the book, read it, love it - and feel good about supporting one of the hardest working fellas I know.

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