Monday, May 17, 2010

Good Surprise, Bad Surprise

Saturday, I spoke at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. My presentation went well and I sold some books. I had a terrific time.

The weather was great, the event was extremely organized and well-attended, and the roster of participating authors was awesome. Some family members came out to support me, and I got a chance to catch up with several writing friends.

Hoffman, Ashman, and me at GburgI had the pleasure of meeting a Pulitzer Prize winner (David Hoffman), pictured here with me and Festival Chair Jud Ashman in the center (Kudos to Jud for a fantastic event! BTW, he donned his blue blazer shortly after this picture was taken.)

I also met two sports writers I admire (John Feinstein and Fred Bowen), and got a chance to hear Keith Donohue, Alice McDermott, and Wes Moore (The Other Wes Moore) talk about their books.

I met the mayor of Gaithersburg.

I met and talked to a slew of other writers and readers and book lovers.

But the highlight of the day for me?

My 12th grade Calculus teacher showed up for my presentation.


Just wow.


And in other news, when I got home from the Festival, there was a note waiting for me on the counter. It read, "Raccoon in toter." (For those of you who don't know, a toter is a big plastic trashcan that you wheel out to the street.)

Part of me just wanted to pretend like I'd never seen the note. But, responsible soul that I am, I leaped into action.

First, I tried tipping the toter on its side so the creature could leave on its own. Nothing happened.

Then, I took a hockey stick and banged on the side of the toter, trying to "inspire" the raccoon to leave. Nothing.

Next, using the hockey stick, I flipped the top of the can up. Nothing leaped out. Unfortunately, from my angle (behind the toter), I couldn't tell if it was just waiting until I showed my face before it sprang out at me. I decided not to test that theory

Instead, I took my wife's suggestion and got in the van so I could back out of the garage and get a clear view into the toter. So, for the first time ever, in 19 years of living in the house, I clipped the side of the garage with the passenger-side mirror, because I was focused on not running over a crazy, rabid, man-eating raccoon.

Turned out he was long gone. D’oh!



Mason Canyon said...

Oh, raccoon wreck. Look at this way, it will make a great piece for a story somewhere down the line. LOL. (Sorry, couldn't help myself). Glad it was long gone though.

Thoughts in Progress

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Sounds like Gaithersburg was great! That's really cool that your calc teacher came.

Ohhh...broken side mirror?

I call those things "dumpsters." I read "toter" 3 times before it became "toter," not "tater" in my head. :)

Mystery Writing is Murder

Terry Odell said...

I found my high school English teacher on the Internet -- it was so cool to tell him how much his classes influenced my writing (although I doubt he'd ever assign one of my books as class reading.)

(spam word: "unkil" -- what you did to the coon?)

Anonymous said...

Alan - I'm so glad that you had such a great trip to Gaithersburg, and it must have been a true honor to have your teacher there - wow!

About the raccoon? I know how you feel. Once, we had bats in our house. It was very interesting trying to get them out of the house safely - very interesting...

Elspeth Futcher said...

I'm glad to learn you had such a wonderful experience at Gaithersburg. As for woodland creatures, I do wish they'd learn to stay in the woodland. Raccoons can be nasty lil varmints if cornered.

Stephen Parrish said...

When that picture comes up on Google images people are going to ask, who are those two guys standing next to Alan Orloff?

Alan Orloff said...

Mason - Yes. The Mystery of the Phantom Raccoon.

Elizabeth - Luckily, there was no damage to the mirror or the garage. Just my psyche.

Terry - I hadn't seen him in ~30 years. He looked pretty good!

Margot - We live in the woods, so there are a lot of critters around, but I've only actually seen a raccoon once before, and it was perched on a tree limb about thirty feet in the air. I didn't know raccoons could fly!

Elspeth - It was my 17-year-old who (allegedly) saw it. Staring back at him with beady eyes. Scared the spit out of my boy!!

Steve - You're good for my ego, Mr. Parrish. Full of rubbish, ye are, but good for my ego.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

Glad the book festival was such a success and it IS really cool that your Calculus teacher came out to see you.

Loved the toter story!

Sarah Hina said...

Did your calculus teacher quiz you on derivatives? :)

It sounds like a great weekend, except for the run-in with the critter. But it coulda been worse--skunks. When I worked at the Columbus Zoo, we had to trap (humanely) raccoons, skunks, and opossums.

There were quite a few tomato baths being taken in our unit.