Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Baggott & Bode Nearly Implode -- meeting Carl Hiaasen

Baggott & Bode -- aka the two of us, which is really just one person because Bode is a pen name (confused yet?) -- went to the Sanibel Island Writers Conference where we did writerly authorial things like: use big words to impress others, gesture wildly with our hands knocking over book stacks and water glasses, argued with other writers about points of grammar (semicolon? you call THAT a semicolon?).

Was it a writerly petting zoo (as Bode describes at the beginning of THE SLIPPERY MAP where he was suffering from a slump and smelled like failure)?

Well, kind of. There were writers and readers. Were there hardened corn kernels fed to the authors like they were goats in an ACTUAL petting zoo? No. (But there were bonbons.)

Was Bode's nemesis there? That evil creative writing professor who, consumed by jealousy, is always trying to hunt him down? Hard to say. The man is a master of disguise. He could have dressed as a portly waiter and tried to poison Bode with aforementioned bonbons. It didn't work. (Bode has cut back on the bonbon intake -- the chocolate makes him spazzy. And he's already spazzy.)

But something DID happen at this conference ... something quite startling.

Baggott & Bode were the warm-up act for (drum roll .... okay I already mentioned his name in the headline ...) CARL HIAASEN,

We were hanging out with the writerly writer Steve Almond. Almond was gesticulating about a point of politics. (See his piece in the Boston Globe, if you're a grown up and into gesticulation about points of politics.) And Baggott & Bode were saying things like, "You sure about that? Is that wise? Wouldn't you prefer to discuss the semicolon?" (We have firm feelings about the semicolon. Completely uncompromising.)

Almond gave up on us and said, "Hey, look. There's Hiaasen, if you want to meet him."

Want to meet him? We want to scream like Beetles fans and rush him like a herd of mad water buffalo and make him sign pool towels!

So, we shrug and say, "Huh. Maybe we'll, ya know, introduce ourselves." And we amble/jog in a spazzy way to Hiaasen.

Now what is Hiaasen doing at said poolside hotel?

He is playing ... get this ... shuffle board! With his son! And his wife!

This is CRAZY! Hiaasen plays shuffle board? (We're taking up shuffle board pronto. This is obviously where he gets his brilliant writing ideas!)

We introduce ourselves in that schizophrenic way we have -- meant to charm but sometimes it repels.

And here's what Hiaasen says, "Hey, nice to meet you." INSANE! I KNOW.

And we -- get this -- SHAKE HANDS!

And then we talk in murfled voices about the reading and what he might read and what we might read.

Two things about Hiaasen -- he has nice teeth. Really top drawer teeth. Shiny, white, straight. He's smiley. AND he's on the thin side. A real trim fella.

And while I'm saying things, I'll add this. He looks like he's got money. Now I'm not saying he's wearing some fancy watch or anything. He just has that at ease with his moneyness that people with money have.

AND he's super cool -- like he can play shuffle board with one hand in his pants pocket.

Being super cool ourselves, we didn't scream or rush him or insist he sign things (books, yes, later, but not pool towels). We were like, whatev ... like we meet Hiaasen playing shuffle board everyday and it's like no biggie.

And then the conference bullied on and we did read before Hiaasen, really warming up the crowd for him, you know, Baggott & Bode style.

He got up there next and just started riffing with his great teeth and his thinness and all.

And that's it.

No implosions ... until ... well, there are ALWAYS implosions with Baggott & Bode.