He was scheduled to do one of his first readings at a little bookstore in Green Bay. I had been talking to my mom about feeling bad that I wasn’t going to be there when we both decided that it would be really nice if I surprised him at the reading. I also thought it would be hilarious if I came in a disguise. My mother did not think that was a good idea. In fact her exact words were, “Oh Sara don’t do that, it’s ridiculous.”. She was right. It was a little ridiculous. Just going there to see him was a surprise so I didn’t really need to do it.
My mom also said “he will recognize you right away” and I said “maybe, but I bet you wouldn’t even recognize me”. This went on and on and I eventually told her I wasn’t going to do it (but had already bought all the disguise supplies and had it all planned out).
I also thought that I should do a little test with my mom to see if she actually would recognize me. I knew she wouldn’t but I was willing to give her a chance. I had a layover in Minneapolis and thought this would be a good place to get everything on. I put on the wig, some extra make-up and my glasses that I hardly wear and came out of the bathroom thinking I was crazy.
I didn’t really think about the security issues with my disguise but I did, however, decide last minute that I needed to make the frames of my glasses a different color. Once I was on the plane I asked the flight attendant if he had a permanent marker I could borrow and he asked why and I told him what I was doing and he was not impressed. After telling me he wasn’t allowed to lend things to passengers he said, “are we going to have a problem here?”. I of course said no and huddled into my seat secretly a little worried that I might get kicked off the plane. THAT would have really made my mom mad.
Once off the plane I got my camera out and tried to situate it around my neck so I could take a video but still walk and talk without having to stop taping. I didn’t want my mom to know that I was taping her.
The video I took is of me coming off the plane to meet my mom. The quality is really bad but it proves that my mother did not recognize me at all. She told me she thought I was someone famous but didn’t know who. I was alright with that. I think she recognized me but her brain couldn’t put the pieces together.
We went straight to the reading and once my mom stopped scolding me for tricking her I think she was excited about seeing if Pat would have the same reaction. I let my mom go in first and I followed shortly after her with my friend Molly. The reading was very crowded so I was able to sneak around without anyone noticing. My dad was in the back of the room setting up the video camera and recognized me immediately and didn’t seem to think anything strange was going on. No reaction whatsoever. Maybe he was just playing along? You never know with him.
So we all get seated for the reading and Patrick starts off with a few words about the book and where the idea came from etc… He then read an excerpt from the book and took questions from the audience. There were a lot of people asking questions and I waited my turn trying not to draw attention to myself too early. It had to be the right time and I wanted him to look directly at me and answer my question.
I asked him a number of questions about the book and he looked right at me and answered them all. It was hard to tell what was going on in his head but I could tell he thought something wasn’t quite right. The last question I asked was if he was adopted (the part of the story he read was about adoption). It was that moment when my mother turned around to tsk me about asking such a stupid question that he figured it out. Of course he couldn’t do anything about it because he was still answering questions and signing books. He told me afterwards that when he saw me in the crowd and was answering my questions that he thought his brain was exploding. Similar to what my mom experienced I think. Kind of interesting to watch people try to unravel something they see and not being able to put a finger on it.
In the end it was a really fun trip and the book has been a great success and I am really happy that I was able pull off a Surprise disguise Visit. It’s a little concerning that my own family didn’t recognize me but I guess I can forgive them.