I've struggled with my weight my entire life. I hate when I get fat, but I have these awful cycles where I'll just regard the treadmill as a piece of modern art in a museum — to be looked at and admired, but never touched — and plop down on the couch with a bag of Reese's whatevers.
So I know the entire spectrum of waist sizes of the pants you'll find in a store like Target or Kohl's. They start at 30 (as in 30 inches around your waist, you skinny prick) and go up to either 40 or 42, depending on how far they're willing to go to satisfy customers.
But 42 is the absolute upper limit, baby. If you need 44 or above, Wal-Mart can't help you. You're off to Jerry's Big & Tall shop.
Now, knock wood, I've always been able to get a handle on my weight before needing to go beyond 42s. I've had a couple of close calls, but I never crossed over.
Here's the thing, though: Imagine going into Jerry's Big & Tall and telling them you need size 44 pants? You'd be the skinniest guy in the joint! All the size 56 guys would be looking at you with genuine envy.
I'm not suggesting you try this — that is to say, bulking up to the point where you need 44s just so you can oddly feel skinny again — but keep in mind that no matter how big you get, there's always someone bigger who would give almost anything to be the size you are.
And Jerry, of Jerry's Big & Tall shop, will never, ever judge you.
Back in November of last year, I attended Rhode Island Comic-Con for the first time. I knew beforehand that it was going to be a madhouse, a much bigger con than I was used to, but there was one name on the list of celebrities that had seduced me: Weird Al Yankovic.
I had been a huge fan of Al's since the early '80s, and I had seen him plenty of times in concert, but this was going to be my first opportunity to actually MEET the man. I was beside myself with anticipation in the weeks leading up to the con.
My wife and I came up with a highly convoluted plan that would get me the maximum amount of time with Al: we would get in line for his booth and get him to sign one of his 8x10s, then we would have a photo op with him, and then we would bring the photo op photo to him to sign. Nothing stalkerish about that, right?
So we lined up for Phase 1 of the plan, and I can't recall ever being so nervous about meeting a celebrity in my life. We finally had our moment with him, and it was ... okay. He wasn't rude or mean or anything, but he also wasn't particularly warm or friendly. I tried to engage him in conversation, but he didn't seem interested. So I told him that we had a photo op with him later and we'd see him then.
The photo op setup was, not to put too fine a point on it, a shit show. We waited about 40 minutes in a monstrous, increasingly agitated crowd, and when we had our moment with Al, it was literally just that. A moment. It was hard to tell if he recognized us from before. He probably didn't.
So then back to his table to get him to sign the photo we'd just taken together. By this point I felt like we had paid the equivalent of a VIP pass so we'd get a little more out of the man, but no. He was just signing pictures and shaking hands. Nothing more.
It might not have been so noticeable if his booth hadn't been set up next to Thomas F. Wilson's (Back to the Future's Biff). Thomas was striking up conversations with everybody, whether they were paying him or not, and really took the time to make everybody feel special. Not Al. He just did what he was brought there to do. No more, no less.
I realize it's not fair of me to impose Biff's gregariousness onto Al, but honestly, if I had fans who really wanted to meet me, I would be tripping over myself to make them feel welcome. But not Al.
The worst part about this entire experience is that I've soured on Al's music. I used to really, genuinely enjoy it, but now when I hear a song of his, all I can think about is his weak handshake, his lack of enthusiasm, and his shrugging demeanor. So yeah, take this lesson from me, kids. Don't meet your heroes. They'll only break your heart.
I don't know if I actually have fans of my books.
Well, that's not entirely true. I know quite a few people who are fans of my books. But those are all people I know. They have to be fans. Can you imagine having dinner with friends and over appetizers they say, "Not really digging your books, there, Lomer. Sorry."
I'm talking about people who only know me because of my books, people I've never met before. My wife works with someone whose daughter claims to be the biggest fan of Typo Squad, but I've never met the girl, so I can neither confirm nor deny her existence.
I know a lot of writers who excitedly share when a fan reaches out to them on Facebook. I know writers who have fan pages that other people (y'know, fans) have set up. And there's this one writer who is forever yammering on about how popular her books are and how much money she makes in book sales, so I assume she probably has a huge fan following. (I'm actually surprised she doesn't go on and on about that. Maybe she really only cares about the fame and the money.)
But I haven't had any of those experiences. If I have fans beyond my circle of family and friends, they're very quiet and don't communicate much. Maybe my stuff appeals to the introvert crowd.
Whatever the reason, if you are a fan of my work and you and this blog somehow cross paths, I just want to say thank you. And to tell you that you can say hello if you want to, I don't bite.
As a counterpoint to all of the above, to my knowledge, I don't really have haters either. Just as I've never received an email from a stranger saying, "Hey, loved the book," I've also never received one that said, "I've read your books. Kill yourself." So maybe no news is good news after all.