There must be a joke in this story somewhere. It all started a few weeks ago when I received an email from a soldier stationed in Iraq. He explained to me that his girlfriend’s birthday was coming up, and he’d like to give her a copy of a book signed by her favorite author. That author, he told me, was moi. Would I be able to help him out?
Sure, I said. Send me the book, the girlfriend’s name, and an SASE, and I’d write a nice inscription, sign my name, and send the book on its way to wherever he wanted me to send it.
As soon as we sealed the deal, I felt a bit of doubt creep over me. How could I ever be anyone’s favorite author?
Today, I received a package from the soldier. Inside was a book swaddled in bubble wrap. I carefully undid it, only to find a novel I didn’t write–a novel by another Lee Martin. What I’d feared might be the case indeed was. The soldier had found the wrong Lee Martin.
For brief instant, I considered writing the inscription, signing my name, and sending the book on its way. Then I thought, no, that wouldn’t be honest and besides the soldier would tell his girlfriend the story of how he found Lee Martin’s email address at Ohio State University, mailed the book to him, and yadda, yadda, yadda until the girlfriend realized the signature was bogus.
So instead I looked up the Lee Martin who had written this novel, found his web site and his email address. I sent him an email explaining the situation, telling him that he was the author the girl fancied and not moi. I asked if I could send him the whole kit and kaboodle to him for his attention, and he graciously said, yes, he’d be happy to receive the book and the SASE and to provide the genuine signature.
I was curious, so I started looking for other Lee Martins who were writers. I found three more, which I think is amazing. I mean, I always thought my name so bland. Who would think that that combination of first and last name would create so many artful liars?
I just now realized what the joke might be. Maybe the girlfriend really does think of me as her favorite author. Maybe she said to the boyfriend, “I love Lee Martin’s novels best of all.” And maybe, just maybe, the boyfriend ran out to buy a Lee Martin novel and that was the only one he could find. Maybe the girlfriend will get that signed copy and wonder why in the world her boyfriend got her that book by someone she doesn’t know.