On March 2nd I got a book signed by President George W Bush. Pretty simple. Nothing to see here. We can move along.
However, on Feb 18th or so, the buzz started. Barnes & Nobles was having President Bush for a book signing. Odd, since I was just on the B&N site and there was no mention of that. But the autograph community was talking. I’m excited but wanted some verification. Then someone posted a photo of the announcement from the bookstore. Viola, verification.
As is the norm for large signings, you need to get a wristband and purchase your books in advance. The nice thing about the wristbands, is while you are not 100% guaranteed of getting your book signed, you are 99% sure it will happen. So, in theory, there is no need to show up early when the wristbands go on sale.
Well, autograph hounds have nothing better to do than stand in line. Yes, the wristbands went on sale at 9AM on 2/25/17. I was in line with some of my fellow hound at 7:15 AM. It was a cold morning in Dallas. It was good to hang out with my fellow collectors. Once the doors opened, I got 2 wristbands; one for me and one for the wife. While she doesn’t care for collecting, there are certain people she is interested in seeing in person.
On the morning of the signing, the wife and I got in line at 7:20 AM. That was our queue time for the 9AM signing. We stood outside for about 10 minutes and then the line slowly progressed into the B&N. We were wanded by Secret Service. They were sans ties; maybe because it was Saturday? Because I wore a jacket with way too many zippers and metal buttons, I was patted down. Then we waited in another line.
The only excitement before 9AM was the wife watching me ‘front facing’ books on the shelves. It’s an old habit from my bookstore days. Books that show their covers sell more than ones that show their spines. You can often spend a little time puzzling out the books and get a few more covers shown. The wife just shakes her head and in wonder and embarrassment.
Once the President arrived (admittedly much more exciting than watching me ‘front face’) we saw small groups of people ride up the escalator…where they got to stand in another line. Upstairs was where the signing took place. A lot more security was upstairs and massive stacks of the President’s new book, Portraits of Courage.
The President himself was behind a curtain. As we made our way toward the front of the line, we saw him signing and greeting people. While I have gotten his autograph once before, I was still impressed with his ‘presence’. Since I know how rushed these signings are, I wasn’t expecting a handshake. When I saw the Sharpie in his hand, I knew it would be too time consuming to drop the pen or transfer it to shake hands.
He signed a few books. He gave us a genuine smile. He thanked us for coming out. Then he reached out to me with Sharpie tucked in his palm and shook my hand. It was a smooth nature process for him. The shake was firm and I never noticed the pen in his hand. As we moved one, he repeated the process for the new person. Strangely, that is what I focused on. How odd.