Finally, after all these years!

Here is the article I wrote for my column after meeting Garrison Keillor.  (Click here for more notes and pictures.)

I finally got to meet the crush whom I have loved since the age of eleven. I first discovered him on my little alarm clock radio while trying to find a station that would be acceptable listening for a young girl with a preacher for a dad.  I’m not sure NPR fits that criteria, nevertheless that is how I came across A Prairie Home Companion and the magical voice of Garrison Keillor.

Every week I anxiously awaited Saturday evening. While the rest of the family watched a new episode of The Dukes of Hazzard, I held a staticky, little radio to my ear and listened to the voice paint pictures of a place called Lake Wobegone.  I longed to live there and become a strong woman, or at the very least a child who was above average.

And so, when I found out he was going to be a keynote speaker at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop I was beside myself with excitement.  Not literally beside myself because I tried that once and it didn’t work out very well, but I was extremely excited.

I arrived a day early and spent twenty-four glorious hours, all alone, sleeping in a king-sized bed with six pillows. It helped me develop a greater appreciation for what hubby puts up with every time he goes on business trips to exotic locations, eats fancy meals, sleeps uninterrupted, and no one ever poops their pants or fights about whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher.

Eventually, I realized it was time to venture down to the lobby and sign in for the convention. I spent the elevator ride mentally critiquing my clothing choice and reviewing the options still in my suitcase should I find myself over or under dressed.  The elevator doors slid open, and much to my surprise, there stood none other than the man himself…Garrison Keillor.

I didn’t introduce myself, I didn’t tell him how much I appreciate his work, and thankfully, I didn’t wet my pants. I just stood there staring like a star struck idiot.  And then I got back on the elevator and high-tailed it back to my room.

I called my girlfriend and told her that I was totally out of my league and had decided to go home.  All of the women I had glimpsed in the lobby looked very put together while I was wearing the paisley blouse and capris I bought at Fashion Bug with a gift card, a coupon, and a fussy baby on one hip.

They had undoubtedly signed multiple book contracts and would know exactly what to do at the networking reception to be held later that evening.  And there I was with my little semi-humor column, and a terrible fear of presuming anyone would want my homemade business cards that boasted a bouquet of forget-me-nots in lieu of a title.

But the great thing about a good girlfriend is that she always knows just what to say. She told me that even though it seemed overwhelming to walk into that room of networking whizzes, she was confident I could do it.  I wasn’t too sure considering I couldn’t even walk into the lobby without practically throwing up. But when she reminded me that I could always duck into the gift shop and pretend to take an important phone call, I decided to give it another try.

Remembering what she said about being careful not to hold my purse in a Midwestern, “I’m clutching this pocketbook to my chest so I don’t get mugged” sort of way, I took a deep breath and stepped off the elevator.

I struck up a conversation with a casually dressed, non-famous looking person who turned out to be a little famous because she has articles about her cats published in the Pet Smart magazine.

And at dinner I sat next to a publisher who didn’t mind at all that my business cards were homemade.

And after dinner I met Garrison Keillor.

He asked about my work and offered some helpful advice from his experience writing a weekly column. I rambled on incessantly about how much I enjoy listening to his stories and he very patiently let me tell about my little alarm clock radio.  Then he signed my book, “To Ginger-another columnist.”

In my star-struck state of idiocy I skipped away without my book and forgot to have my picture taken with him, but he was kind enough to call me back.

I felt like I had met an old friend.  A voice from my childhood that hearkens good memories.  And I remembered that once upon a time he was just a guy from the Midwest who liked to tell stories.  And Erma was simply a mom from the Midwest who liked to tell stories.  So, maybe someday, as long as I don’t leave the Midwest, I will find that I too have a bigger story to tell.   In the meantime, it’s good to be home where capris are considered dressy and the only people I have to impress wear poopy diapers or argue about the dishwasher.

About Ginger Truitt

Ginger is an author, speaker, and mother of five. Her award-winning newspaper column appears weekly across the Midwest. Recently, she was also published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parenthood.

Comments

  1. Oh, I just loved this story – meeting a real, live author has always been a special life moment for me.
    And, boy, do I like your writing. Made me smile. Thanks.

  2. Thank you, Trina! This was definitely a special life moment for me!

  3. This was a gigglefest and reassuring at the same time. How many “important phone calls” did you take during that conference? Hope to meet you in person with my homemade cards.

  4. Maureen Rogers says:

    Hi Ginger, I will be a newbie this year along with 3 other women from my on-line writing group so I really appreciated your perspective. Thanks for the heads up on business cards and capris!

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