Pen Pals – Facebook Style
This is not just a case where I clicked ‘Liked’ and now I get posts about the next novel in process or book signing appearance. I do have some celebrity Facebook friends like that. And I kind of like these famous people sharing little snippets with thousands of fans. (JT, if you are reading this – I would so marry you…I love your guitar lessons and your play dates and travel plans.)
But no. This famous author is my back-and-forth friend.
About two months ago, I noticed that a ‘real’ friend of mine was also friends with the famous author. So I asked her how she knew him, and she said that although his Facebook page says not to send a Friend Request unless you know him personally, everyone sends him requests and he says Yes all the time. She advised me to include some personal connection as to why I wanted him to be my friend. So I did. And he did. Friend me.
The weird thing about Famous Author. He writes to people. He doesn’t just post. He sends Facebook messages to individual people. Like me.
I won’t tell you exactly what I claimed was my connection to him, since I don’t want to give away his identity. He has 2,266 Friends and he is adding about 50 friends every day. (Word gets around.) So I am concerned that when he gets to about 5,000 Friends he may not have time to write to me. But here’s a hint: we are the same age.
A week or so after he Friended me, I got a Facebook message. When I saw the little “1” at the top of my screen, I figured it was my sister-in-law, asking me about vegetables or something.
But it was Famous Author.
And he had an important question to ask me, considering that we are contemporaries.
” What time is Shindig on? “
I could hardly believe my eyes. And if I expected esoteric, literary discourse… well, hell. Forget that. I was delighted.
I figured he was just welcoming me as a Friend. But on the other hand, what did I have to lose? So the next day I wrote him back.
“Oh,no! I sneered at Shindig..It was all Hullabaloo for me!”
Not my cleverest repost, but it was the best I could come up with. And true. I hated Shindig – though I can’t recall a single reason why. Ah, fickle youth.
So I had corresponded with Famous Writer. That was pretty cool. I was sure to buy his next book now. The End, I thought.
And then this Thursday – 2 weeks later – I got this:
“Aha, Hullabaloo! They’ve got some vintage clips of that show on YouTube. Brings you right back, although the production values and sets look pretty cheesy now. Wonder if all those Hullabaloo dancers have had knee replacement surgery.”
Even cooler. And (this is the really cool part) – it was no cleverer than my comment, and it took Famous Writer two weeks to write it. Okay, so it is possible that it took him two weeks to read my message, and two seconds to write an answer, but I prefer the first interpretation.
But I felt it was time to have a deeper conversation than this. This was my chance to ask an exceptional and successful writer for some real advice. So I wrote back:
“Oh, but enough of trivialities. Here’s the more important question: Dr. Kildare or Ben Casey? Or even: Bonanza or The Virginian?”
Considering the crucial nature of my query, he wrote back right away:
“Easy. Bonanaza and Kildare (although Vince Edwards gets points for marrying one of the Miss Rheingold winners). Here’s a harder one: Which Patty Duke Show cousin did you prefer–Cathy (she enjoys the Ballet Ruse and crepes suzette) or Patty (she loves to rock’n’roll, a hotdog makes her lose control !!??)
Okay, gotta go watch the Obama speech.”
Now I know that we both wanted to watch the President, but I figured he would probably keep an eye on the computer too, as he must be anxious for an answer. So I responded quickly.
“Patty….she could really kill the Mashed Potatoes.”
The state of the economy may have distracted Famous Author. I didn’t hear back until the next day.
“Which, by the way, started long time ago with a guy named Sloppy Joe.”
Here’s a guy as stuck in the sixties as me!
“I am in awe of your vast trivia knowledge. (unless of course it’s Google..then I am in awe of your googling skills.)”
I figure Famous Author is bound to get tired of this inane thread any time now.
But I wouldn’t trade our Shindig/Hullabaloo debate for some profound discussion Kafka vs Camus.
I would, however, trade it for: “Let me introduce you to my agent.”