Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Close Call

The Children's Literature Festival here in Warrensburg is exhilarating, but grueling as well. It is draining to have to be a larger-than-life exuberant personality in front of four large groups of children four times a day, saying the same thing over and over again as if inventing it on the spot through sudden inspiration. It's emotionally intense to see so many dear friends and share a year's worth of accumulated stories with each one.

So this is why I keep leaving things everywhere.

I went to turn off my cell phone this morning before my first session and realized that I had left it in the motel room, in its charger, after having packed up everything to check out. That wasn't too hard to deal with. One of the festival's wonderful helpers drove back to the motel to get it.

Scarier was what almost happened to Charlie. Charlie is the tiny duck friend of one of the Warrensburg authors; actually, Charlie began life as a padded, furry, elongated-duck-shaped bookmark sold by Barnes & Noble, but he became Pat's beloved friend and a Warrensburg mascot. One year Pat forgot to bring Charlie to the festival. Luckily, we have illustrators here as well as authors, so talented R. W. Alley drew Pat a new Charlie, which she managed to stuff with some cotton, so we had faux Charlie to keep us company.

Well, this year I was feeling a bit melancholy the first night here for no good reason, so Pat loaned me Charlie. He spent the night and next day with me. When I went to return Charlie to Pat last night, she suggested that Charlie would enjoy coming to our author party in the motel's meeeting room, and indeed, Charlie did seem to welcome the festivities. I was tired, so slipped away early to bed.

This morning I saw Pat over at the festival. "Where's Charlie?" she asked.

"I thought YOU had him!" I almost shrieked.

She, too, had left the party early. She too had left Charlie behind.

Frantically, I called the motel. What if - what if - could it be that Charlie had been - no, surely, he wouldn't have been THROWN AWAY?

All right, time for the happy ending: the motel staff hurried up to the meeting room ("It's urgent!" I told them). Charlie has been found. He is safe at the motel registration desk, ready to be reunited with Pat later today.

I plan to get a VERY good sleep tonight, when I'm back home in Indiana. No more forgetting cell phones! No more forgetting little duck friends!

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