If you happen to have been in or around Barnes & Noble in Binghamton, NY today at approximately 11:15 EST on September 18th, you were very likely witness to a major disturbance in the Roleplaying Games section. Witnesses claim to have seen a well-dressed, seemingly innocent couple in their 60’s hooting and screeching like a couple of orangutans while pulling books off of shelves and throwing them at people. I sincerely apologize if you were witness to this. Those were my parents and they were…well, excited.
The day started off like this: I get email from Mom saying, “Happy Birthday, Astrid! Grandma loves you!” Please understand—my parents don’t have grandchildren and they want them. Bad. So bad that they’ll settle for cats, dogs, my friend’s kids, even a book. Once she called me asking what my dog’s girth was. She was 3 second away from buying Charlie a fur coat.
“But she has a fur coat, Mom,” I explained. “She’s a dog.”
“But not like this,” she says. “It’s got rhinestone buttons and leopard cuffs.”
When I called Mom today she was standing outside Barnes & Noble.
“Why are you outside?” I ask. “Are they closed?”
“Dad said I couldn’t go in without him.”
Thankfully he arrives about 5 minutes later while I’m still on the phone. There is much anticipation, choppy banter, hurried breathing. They’re making me nervous although I’m 3,000 miles away, sitting on my couch, drinking coffee, and watching Good Morning America.
“Where do we go?” they shout. “How will we find it in here?!”
It’s no use telling them it’s very likely the store won’t have it out yet, or even in stock. It could be in transit or sitting on the loading dock outside. They are two bloodhounds in hot pursuit. They know what they want and won’t stop until they find it.
“We’ll go in the backroom and tear through boxes until we find it,” Mom said.
“You have to go to the Roleplaying Game section,” I tell them even though I know they’re not listening. My dad is too busy commentating every move.
“We’re heading for the information desk. There is a woman standing behind a computer. She has said hello to your mother!”
Then I hear my mom ask, “Where is your Roleplaying section?”
“Roleplaying GAMES,” I shout into the receiver. “GAMES, Mom, GAMES!”
But again, they’re not listening. But they are commentating.
“The girl is looking it up. She’s typing. She stopped typing. She’s waiting for something to come up. She’s moving! We’re moving! I think she’s taking us to the Roleplaying Game section!”
I hear my mom chattering in the background but I can only make out a few words. “Sorceress…daughter…wrote…the…book…”
I try again to warn them the book may not be there. Barnes & Noble is not as excited as they are. I told them not to panic. The 250 Mom ordered from Amazon were probably on their front porch by now.
“We stopped moving!”
And then I hear a sigh. A big, old defeated sigh.
But then I hear this:
“Oh my God.”
And then silence. For about 2 and half seconds.
And then there was much rejoicing.
“It’s here! It’s here! It’s gorgeous! It’s here! That’s our daughter’s book! That’s Astrid!”
I imagine them holding hands and jumping in circles and then I demolish this vision promptly from my imagination. Scary! They ask the poor Barnes & Noble associate what her name is. Poor girl. She didn’t know what she was getting herself into. She was just trying to help.
“Lauren,” she answers.
“Here Lauren,” my dad says. “Talk to Shelly!”
“Hi,” Lauren says sheepishly.
“Hi Lauren,” I say. “I’m really sorry about this.”
“It’s okay,” she says but I can tell it’s not. The poor girl is traumatized.
“Just do me a favor, Lauren. Don’t make a scene when you’re escorting them out. Just have security tell them Panera Bread is giving out free samples across the street. They’ll go peacefully. I promise.”
“Okay,” she says. “Umm…I’ll put them back on the phone now, okay?”
My dad gets back to commentating. He’s thrilled to see the book is facing out, sandwiched between two big, hardback, “dark-looking” books.
“It looks great, but I think it would look better on the end of the aisle. These other books aren’t important,” he says. I hear shuffling. He drops the phone in his excitement.
“Dad! You cannot rearrange the store! Lauren knows who you are!”
I hear my mom giggling in the background. She’s making friends with three unsuspecting college girls who happened by. I hear “Sorceress…daughter…book…” again.
Then I hear my dad let out a whoop. “You play D&D? Shell, they play D&D! You’ve heard of her book? Shell, they’ve heard of your book! Hang on.”
“Hi,” I say. “I’m really sorry my parents are harassing you. It’s ok to ignore them. They’re perfectly content rearranging endcaps and New Release tables.”
Her name is Kristin and she’s incredibly gracious and forgiving. She tells me her parents would be the same way, which makes me wonder if we could maybe get a discount on therapy sessions together? Kristin tells me (and the mesmerized parents) that her and her friends play in an all-girl D&D campaign. They’ve seen the book on the website. They even think it’s cool they’re standing in a random Barnes and Noble talking D&D shop with my parents.
Kristin hands the phone back to my mom who tells me “Kristin is a DM—that’s a Dungeon Master! I know what it means!” That could be the most surreal part of this whole conversation—hearing my mom actually say the words Dungeon and Master in the same sentence. She gives the phone back to my dad so she can continue chatting up Kristin and her friends.
“Her character’s name is Phoenix,” my dad tells me. “Cool huh?” I’m waiting for him to ask if Astrid knows her. Then my dad laughs and tells Kristin she shouldn’t feel compelled to buy the book just because they’re standing right there and might burst out crying if she doesn’t. Turns out Kristin is spared from having to make a purchase because my mom has decided to purchase one for her.
We hang up but my dad calls back a few minutes later to tell me not only have they managed to hand sell every copy the store had, but my mom is now signing them!
“She has a line,” he says. “They love her!”
She wrote “Love Shelly’s Mom” on the dedication page. Love indeed.
Take this as a warning, all of you in Upstate New York and Northern Pennsylvania! You are not safe from these people. They are not dangerous but they will lynch you and force you to look at the dedication page, then sign it, buy it for you, and then take your picture holding it! Nice picture by the way, Kristin. You and your friends look like very nice people. Which is probably why you didn’t call the cops.
And while we’re talking about warnings, here’s one for all of you in the Seattle area. The parents are heading here next! Don’t say I didn’t warn you.