I was late to my own party. A series of last-minute mini-emergencies at the Day Job kept me at the office long past the time I'd planned to leave and head to Uptown Butte for the book launch party at Quarry Brewing. That, coupled with the text I got from my wife ("Where r u? People are already here!") and the detour to pick up the hot wings at McKenzie River Pizza Co., put me in a vise-grip of panic, complete with dry mouth and constricted veins.
But then I took a deep breath and told myself, "Stop it. This is one of those moments that only comes around once--with no repeats--and you damn well better relax and enjoy it." It's true, I would never again be a debut novelist heading to a party celebrating the release of his book. This night was a gift I needed to unwrap slowly. I unclenched my fingers from the steering wheel and drove a little slower, a little calmer (and then, happily, I saw that the God of Green Lights was on my side, allowing me to sail effortlessly all the way to Uptown).
When I reached the Quarry, I was only a few minutes late, but the room was already heavy with the low buzz of voices. Jean and my sister-in-law Cheryl had been hard at work all day, decorating the room with swags of Fobbit postcards and setting food out on the tables--including this beautiful cake:
My parents were there, along with a few of my co-workers, friends and Facebook fans. But as I looked around the room, I realized I didn't know half of the people who'd showed up. As I started shaking hands and greeting these strangers, it dawned on me they were there not just for the free drinks and chicken wings, but because they were doing their part to support Butte. When you drive around this town, you'll often see bumper stickers that say "Butte, and Proud of It." These people didn't know me yet, but they were already proud of me. There's also another saying here in my hometown: "Butte Nice." Every one of those 80 people at Fobbit's launch party proved that slogan was more than a bumper sticker, it was a way of life.
[Best Small-World Moment of the evening: I met a retired Army master sergeant named Rich who was stationed at Camp Liberty, Iraq at the same time I was. We didn't know each other then, and we've only just now met, but he said he was looking forward to reading the book because, he admits, he himself is a former Fobbit. What are the odds?]
So, a big Thank You to the Butte-iful people of this town for helping me launch Fobbit into the world with such an enthusiastic Birth Day party. And special thanks to Jo Antonioli of Books and Books who brought 35 copies of Fobbit to the Quarry...and sold every one.
|Good friends Alan Weltzien, his wife Lynn, and Montana Tech professor Henry Gonshak give Fobbit an "A"|
|As I read from the first few pages of the book, some people followed along in their copies|
|Trust me, I eventually took a breather to drink that beer|