To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about going to Atlanta. I once dated a guy from Georgia who done me wrong. Part of me was wigged out at the prospect of suffering Georgia-accent-induced flashbacks. Can I take your drink order? No! No, you may not infiltrate my circle of friends and then break up with me! Your room number is 627. Thanks! Thanks for stealing my car and then driving it to the beach! That'll be $10.27. Oh? Is that what they call it now--$10.27? I thought it was called encouraging your friend to abandon his crappy car at my house for almost a year!
Atlanta was much fun, for my mother and me, anyway. Charis Books is in Little Five Points, a super-funky part of town. Mom, Caleb, and I took a cab to the bookstore and we arrived with a little time to spare for dinner. I saw a pizza place across the street, and we headed over.
Did I mention that, by this point, Caleb had almost nothing to entertain him for, like, 36 hours? That at one point he had resorted to playing with his own flip-flop? So, it was maybe not the best place to steer a little old man who was getting increasingly cranky. The cashier, while pleasant, had more metal on his face than skin. Only one table was wiped clean. The music was loud, and by the time our pizza got to the table, someone had popped on a death metal CD.
I looked at Mom and Caleb. Mom was gamely nodding her head to the music. Caleb was vibrating with rage. "DO YOU KNOW WHAT'S UNDER THE TABLE?" he asked me. "CHEWED. GUM. ALL UNDER THE TABLE. IT'S DISGUSTING."
Mom popped out some hand sanitizer and soon we had the joint smelling like Bath & Body Works. Caleb grabbed my arm. "PROMISE ME," he hissed, "THAT WE NEVER HAVE TO COME BACK HERE AGAIN."
Luckily, the evening shaped up very quickly. The women at Charis--Kerrie, Stephanie, Amanda, and Angela--sure know how to throw an event. I met so many great people--including the excellent writer Katherine Hester--and the discussion was lively and just fun. Many, many thanks to everyone who came. I could have stayed much, much longer.
Jessica Handler drove us back to the hotel. Jessica has written several things for Brain, Child, but we'd never met in person. I had absolutely no idea how much fun she is! Even Caleb brightened up.We had drinks; Mom and Caleb had carrot cake; and I decided that I'd like to pack Jessica up and install her in Charlottesville.
Confidential to Aunt Kathy: Happy Birthday, lady!