I had no idea who she was.
She was reading an excerpt from a book that was printed in a magazine we had all gathered to celebrate.
“Hunger is very personal. At first, it even tricks you into feeling guilty over your own misery, guilty for your human lack of grace. It holds your wrists tightly in its bony fingers; it breathes its foul breath into your gaping mouth as you sleep.”
When she finished she sat down next to me. I asked her if she knew where I could get the book. She immediately opened her pocketbook and pulled out three small volumes, checking the inside covers to remind herself which copy was to be gifted to whom.
“I’ll give you this copy, just wait,” she said, “I need to write a note to myself,” and she did on the second blank page, the one left to balance the signatures at the printers, and tore it out to put it back in her pocketbook with the remaining volumes.
It was when she handed me the little book that it dawned on me that she was its author. The surprise stopped up my voice and we sat next to each other quietly, politely clapping from time to time, as others read and spoke and performed.
As the evening was wrapping up she moved to leave and stopped with her face very close to mine and asked, “What do you do?”
“I write kids’ stuff.”
She swooped in and kissed my cheek, enough of our cheeks touching that I could feel her cheek’s pillowy softness, the kind of softness only your Italian great-aunt’s cheek could have, and I reflexively returned the kiss.
“Keep writing,” she said, leaving immediately and disappearing into the Manhattan night with its neon stars.
I found her name on the book’s cover: GIOIA TIMPANELLI. Dean of American Storytelling.
Kids’ stuff? I thought to myself. Fairy tales aren’t kids’ stuff.
For anyone who shares that sentiment, I created The Golden Goose Eggs to act as a repository providing fairy tales without the lame-isms to all would-be adventurers living in a world where using “fairytale” in place of “naive” or “unrealistic” or “irrelevant” isn’t in vogue anymore: living happily ever out there is.