stop me if you’ve heard this one…

April 5, 2006

We went to the movies this weekend. “Inside Man.” Great movie, although I’d love to sit down and discuss the ending.

But the previews…

I saw the trailer for “Flight 93”, hated it and felt insulted, annoyed, upset, trapped, etc. Obviously, I am on the list of people not ready to see big screen 9-11.

But it brought back fond memories of the last time I was trapped watching a big screen disaster. July in Reno. RWA National. Feel free to skip.

I finaled in the Golden Heart contest last year, which is the big, full manuscript romance novel contest run by Romance Writers of America. It is the big canolli for the unpublished. There are 2500 people at the conference, mostly women, and the awards ceremony is like a cross between the Oscars and going stag to the prom.

I had my evening gown, jewelry, silver and rhinestone slides, hair and make-up. I had an evening bag with a flask of brandy (because I am a lush) and a short stack of business cards should I find one of the editors who judged my book, or anyone else who I thought I could get to remember my name. I had a snappy acceptance speech.

I was ready. Win or lose, it was going to be one of the happiest nights of my life.

And then I heard about the ceremony. Someone had decided to do a retrospective of the last 25 years of RWA, inter-cut with historical events. I don’t know if anyone noticed, but a lot of really scary shit has happened in the last 25 years. And it was all cut into professional video montages to flesh out the awards.

I believe the intent was to show the uplifting and restorative power of romance fiction in times of stress.

Or else it was to demonstrate that we’re a bunch of bubble heads who would rather read paperbacks than watch the news and we should probably all just hide under our desks and keep our therapists on speed-dial.


There was some last minute cutting to tone down the video montage sequences, which saved us from watching the planes hit the towers, and the view of the Challenger exploding. But there was plenty of disaster left to go around for a ceremony that lasted over 3 hours.

We did get to see film of the Challenger going up, inter-cut with peppy 80’s music.

And behind me, a couple thousand writers, all wearing their nerves outside their skin to better pick up and write down the collective world vibes, were gasping in horror, crying and waiting for the boom. We got to see Princess Di’s sappy wedding, crappy marriage, and icky end. If there was bad news, it was there. My award was announced after the Lockarbie plane crash along with Heart singing “These Dreams” which is on my list of top ten songs I’d rather pour hot lead in my ears than ever hear again.

And the announcer,(love you, Blythe, really, because this is the best part of the story) forgot to read my name and my friends yelled to make her back up.

I looked at the big picture and thought, “Figures. The happiest night of MY life would go something like this.”

I’d waited patiently for my award before starting to drink, since I didn’t want to run the risk of actually winning and having to stagger drunk to the podium to speak.

Which turned out to be very wise because I won.

I gave my speech and sat down, ready to relax and watch the rest of the video freak show, hoping that the little chocolate RITA statue they gave us was hollow so I could use her as a shot glass for the brandy.
She was rock solid and useless as a drinking buddy.

Then I managed to break the neck off my flask trying to get the damn thing open, couldn’t close it and spent two hours with my finger jammed in the ragged metal top, and brandy trickling down my arm, now afraid to drink because I would need to be sober for handshakes and hugs later in the evening from my friends who’d been able to drink all the booze they’d snuck in with them and were way ahead of me in the celebrating department.

The moral of the story, if there is one?

Do not pack people into a crowded theater and surprise them with historical disasters.
And get a stainless steel flask, because the pretty enameled ones are either flimsy tin or brain-rotting lead and will let you down when you need them.