The first clue that I was in for an interesting afternoon came in the form of a sci-fi enthusiast who stopped by my table to offer a blow-by-blow account of a dragon warfare scene from a favorite novel.
I hoped the encounter would prove to be an isolated event in an otherwise productive afternoon of book promotion at Barnes and Noble, but those hopes were dashed in the form of a spindly, newbie writer of epic poems in search of a personal, on-the-spot reading and appraisal of said work.
After what I hoped was a gentle letdown in the form of an explanation that my presence on the premises was actually a work-related venture involving my own written prose, I settled in for a chat with Rain Man’s long lost twin brother. The conversation circled around a loop of instructions he was giving himself concerning what he referred to as “appropriate behavior.”
The conversation underscored why Dustin Hoffman’s deserved his Oscar, and why my BA in Psychology didn’t take. I attempted light and witty banter, before I remembered that savants are literal folk, not prone to levity. I helplessly offered the man a bookmark, actually finding myself wishing the poet would return.
Throughout the course of the afternoon, it became apparent that I need to add "Where's the restroom?" to my FAQ list. I also need to take note of the Barnes and Noble shelving policies, so I can better direct patrons to the works of other authors, although I was able to loan my book-signing pen to a gentleman wishing to jot down the name of an author he wanted to research later, at home.
Judging from the high-pitched incomprehensible chant I witnessed a woman delivering to the inside of a recently purchased book (not one of mine), I'd have to say that bizarre behavior wasn't limited to my little display table. An ill-wrapped sarong and cowboy-boot combo sported by one shopper indicated layers of complexity that transcend verbal interaction.
Perhaps the most shocking event of the afternoon was that I somehow managed to sell some books. The new characters I met along the way were simply a bonus.