The Heart and the Fist and the Waiting List

So, my Patch editor says to me, “Do you want to interview Eric Greitens? He’s a retired Navy SEAL who’s coming to town to promote his new book.”

“Do I have to fight him?”

“I don’t think so, no.”

“Then I’ll do it.”

I go to his website and read his bio and, god, I’m exhausted just reading his resume. Nothing hammers home how you’ve wasted your life more than seeing how other people have lived theirs. Not only has the man been a Rhodes Scholar and a Navy SEAL and a great humanitarian — he’s handsome as well.

But can he name everyone who was ever an Avenger — and in the order they joined? Probably not.

Sigh. I really am a sad nerd.

I call him as he’s on his way to Washington DC for some meeting or other. Very nice man. He’s even very nice. What’s up with that? I’m not going to repeat the whole story here, if you want that you can go here:

At the end of the interview he asks me that question I always dread:

“Are you coming to the library? I’d love to meet you.”

See, here’s the deal all you musicians and actors and celebrities I’ve interviewed over the years: If you don’t send me tickets, I’m probably not going to your show. Nothing personal, I’d probably enjoy your show, but tickets ain’t cheap these days and whatever money I just made writing this preview I can’t blow on your show.

However, this was free, so I tell him I hope to make it.

Some time later I’m watching “The Colbert Report” and there’s my new friend Eric Greitens. “Hey, I just talked to that guy,” I say to the screen.

This causes The Wife to pause from her trip to the bedroom. “Who is he?”

“Eric Greitens. Former Navy SEAL and humanitarian. He’s coming to town for an author meet-and-greet at the library.”

“Can we go?”

“Uh, I guess so.”

Now I can only think of three reasons why The Wife would want to go meet Eric Greitens:

1. She has Navy SEAL mania, like so much of the country these days.

2. She admires his humanitarian work and his inspirational life story.

3. He’s so good-looking.

Whatever the reason — probably all three — we pack up The Son and head to the library Wednesday night for the event. I’ve never been to a book signing so I don’t really know what to expect. As we walk in the door a woman hands me a card for the autograph session. I say, “no thank you” and hand it back. The Wife looks at me like I’m crazy and gets one.

“We don’t have anything for him to sign,” I says.

“They’re probably selling books in the lobby. I’ll get one.”

“You can’t sell books in a library, can you? That’s not legal.”

Turns out you can. Sure enough, a local bookstore had set up a table in the Young Adult section and was selling books. The Wife gets a book while The Son and I hit the reception table. Free cheese squares, sausages, fruit, soda and wine. We should go to book signings more often.

By the time we get back to our seats, The Wife has struck up a conversation with a guy in a Bob Dylan T-Shirt. There is no off switch on The Wife’s schmooze control.

Mr. Greitens is introduced and gives an inspirational talk for about an hour, complete with slides and the occasional reading from his book. I feel so intellectual being at an author event featuring someone who’s written a book without an illustrator.

Once the talk is over, the book signing begins. The Wife is in Group 7. She would have been in Group 5 if I hadn’t returned my card. She reminds me of this repeatedly. We don’t have anywhere else to be tonight, and there’s still plenty of snacks and drinks, so we wait. And wait.

Everybody has to get a few words in with the author, some have pictures taken, some have multiple books to sign. I find some Justice League comics in the Young Adult section and get caught up. There’s a Rolling Stone cover story on the top 70 Dylan songs. I just start to read it when they call “Everyone else.”

We wind up being the next-to-last in line but Mr. Greitens is just as nice and personable and handsome when he gets to us as he probably was with the first person whose hand he shook that day.

I figure it’s gotta be pretty taxing having to stand there for an hour signing books, but then, probably not as taxing as Navy SEAL training.


One response to “The Heart and the Fist and the Waiting List

  1. I read this book on the Amtrak to Kansas City. It should be required reading for every person. What a wonderful testament – a regular guy who is willing to challenge and test himself to become a better man. In this world, you really do have to be both strong and good in order to serve and protect those not as strong as you. Highly recommended and a must read – by far the best book I’ve read since the beginning of 2011 and I’ve read some good books this year.

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