The Authentic Experience
Everyone from late night talk shows to folks around the water cooler, are talking about the Al Roker interview on Dateline. He was talking about his surgery and weight loss, promoting his book My Weight Loss Journey. Apparently, after having gastric bypass surgery, this was a side effect. He mentioned being in the White House and he crapped his pants. Reporter Nancy Snyderman snidely asked for clarification, saying “You pooped your pants?”
To which Roker replied, “Yes, I pooped my pants. Not a lot, but enough to know something happened.” (sounds like the transcripts from an interview with two 5-year-olds, huh?).
This reminded me of another story. Hearing Stephen King talk about the first autograph he signed years ago. And the master of the scary story, had this very scary experience.
It was his first book tour. He was promoting Carrie (this year a remake is hitting theatres). King had signed a few books at this point, but had never had the experience of being recognized by a fan “on the street.”
He was in Pittsburgh and did some press engagements and was at a fancy restaurant to have a meal, and talk to the crowd. Unlike Roker, King referred to the incident as “a case of Montezuma’s Revenge” and not “pooping my pants and having to throw my underwear away and go commando.”
When King realized he had a bit of a stomach flu happening, he ran to the bathroom. He found something you don’t usually see in fancy restaurants but instead at truck stops – the bathroom had no doors. Strange, that a fan of the band The Doors (he has used their song lyrics in novels), couldn’t find a door when he needed one.
As the King sat on his throne, a bathroom attendant walked over. It’s at this point that you realize – the bathroom attendant is not only the least needed servant around, he’s the one you feel most guilty about not tipping.
King has described this guy as being over 100-years-old, and I can’t help but think of the bathroom attendant in The Shining. He was willing to help Jack Nicholson wash blood off his clothes and murder people. I’m guessing this could be a messier task. But I digest.
The attendant was walking over with paper. It wasn’t toilet paper, but a piece of paper and a pen. He asked “Are you Stephen King? I saw you on AM Pittsburgh. Can I have an autograph?”
Now, I have no clue why a bathroom attendant would choose that very moment to ask. Surely a bit of privacy, and an autograph request while washing hands, would’ve worked better. Perhaps not – since King signed and tells this story as his first autograph to a fan that recognized him somewhere other than at a book store.
It reminded me of the time I witnessed a guy ask Mel Gibson a question in the bathroom. Gibson had had a few beers and was in good spirits (no pun intended), and said that he was once asked to sign an autograph while at a urinal. He laughed and said “Can you wait until I make it over to the sink,” where he gladly signed.
Julia Roberts said the first time she was asked to sign an autograph, when Mystic Pizza was just released, it was from a fan that slipped a piece of paper and pen under the stall doors she was in.
But back to master of the macabre.
The current story on him is about a rare autograph. No, it’s not a signed piece of toilet paper or urinal cake. It’s a rare copy that a Maine bookstore has, with proceeds going to a nearby homeless shelter’s emergency home heating fund.
It’s a copy of The Regulators, (no Mr. Roker, not “regular”). It’s a novel in which he used the pen name Richard Bachman. It was donated by a generous customer of Scottie’s Bookhouse in Hancock.
And as an autograph collector – instead of just appreciating this kind act by a customer – I just want to know if it’s signed “Stephen King” or “Richard Bachman.” I’m also curious as to what signature would be more valuable.