encountering kaye

April 1, 2005

This afternoon I had the good fortune of rescuing Kaye Gibbons from a persnickety water cooler. She blew in, flustered and a bit flighty, to the Southern Writers’ Conference, as I was working the registration desk, and came over to ask for help. I was wearing my official Volunteer Badge, so I guess looked like a good person to ask for help—her problem was that her watch battery had died, and she was worried about keeping to time while she was speaking, so was looking for a watch to borrow. Unfortunately I did not have one to offer, since I don’t wear a watch, but another person there did, so we were able to help her there. She thanked us, then went over to get a cup of water from the sports cooler set up by the wall. Weighted down by bags and papers, and walking in a slightly strained manner in her heels, she fumbled with the cooler and ended up knocking the lid off the top of it. I hesitated before going over there, considering whether my help would be embarrassing to her, but decided to just offer at least. As it turns out, she was grateful for assistance, asking me to help her with the dispenser, and apologizing as I filled her cup. She explained that she was terribly nervous, and sniffly with a sinus infection. Well, who wouldn’t be? I thought. Later, I got to hear her speak a bit and she apparently collected herself mightily well, as she gave a witty address. What I think I appreciated the most, though, was that she was transparent—she had to stop talking for a moment, when she got choked up at the description of a fellow writer who had urged her to be herself, to speak her words . . .
Well, I must say, this was a better brush with fame, as far as I’m concerned, than any Backstreet Boy run-in, or something along those lines [am I dating myself already, at the age of 25??].

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