JMC and Tessie have a small discussion going about Pat Conroy's book Beach Music. (In the comments on JMC's blog.) It's an excellent novel and I highly recommend it if any of you haven't read it. But their discussion reminded me that I should tell you all my story about seeing Pat Conroy.
I won't even try to tell you what year this happened. (I think we've seen that years are not my strong suit.) I really don't even remember if it was while we were in college or if it was in those first few years after we graduated. Anyway, my college best friend Kelly (yes, I know, how original, right? Our friends used to call us the Shelly and Kelly Show) and her mother invited me to Charlotte to attend an event at which Pat Conroy was speaking. He read from one of his books, I don't remember which one, but I hadn't read it at the time. Not saying much, because at the time, I think the only one of his books that I had read was Prince of Tides (good book). Then he took questions from the audience. In order to ask a question, you had to walk up to the front of the auditorium and ask your question into a microphone on the opposite side of the stage from Pat Conroy. He was angled towards you and you were angled towards him, so you were looking right at him, asking your question. Well, Kelly is great at thinking of good questions to ask, but very timid about going up on stage with famous authors. I'm not timid, but I suck at thinking of good questions to ask famous people. So I agreed to go up with her, and we went up on stage to ask our questions. Kelly went first. Pat Conroy asked her name, she told him and then she asked her question. I don't remember what she asked, but Pat Conroy beamed at her, told her what a sweet Southern girl she was, and what a nice question that was. He answered it, Kelly stepped down off the stage, and then it was my turn. I stepped up to the microphone, Pat Conroy asked my name, I told him, then I said, "You've told some very personal stories about your family in your books. How does your family feel about you telling those stories?" Well. He glared at me and then he said, "My father would have loved you." in a voice that let me know that was no compliment. Apparently, his father was none too thrilled to be The Great Santini. And that was a very sore subject for Mr. Conroy. So guess who picked the wrong question to ask? I have never been happier to get off a stage in my life.