Billy Collins was the keynote speaker at the Colorado Language Arts Society’s conference where Bud and I just presented a session on blogging with students. Collins's speech/reading was great (I heard him read last fall in Loveland and loved it then, too.) I got to ask him a few questions afterward, both at the luncheon and at the book signing. On top of that, our session went well and we had fun. I was happy.
But the Billy Collins story gets better. Ever so much better. Even better than the time I saw Tom Cruise at TCBY in Taluca Lake, California. Or the time I saw Paris Hilton at the California Pizza Kitchen in Beverly Hills. Or the time I saw Paris Hilton in a Tampa, Florida mall. (I think she was stalking me.)
Last night at the gala reception, I walked into the room feeling quite sassy (our presentation had just gone very smoothly and we got two more invitations to present at other schools.) Much to my surprise, Billy Collins was having a drink at one of the tables; I figured he had left town shortly after the luncheon. I wished that I had the nerve to go up and ask him all my questions about publishing poetry. I must have said that out loud, because Bud looked at me and said, “What’s stopping you?”
Wow. Great question.
“What the hell,” I thought. Armed with a vodka tonic, the most grown-up drink I know, I walked over to his table.
“Hey, Megan,” he greeted me.
“Holy-shit-he-remembers-my-name!” I silently gasped, all the while maintaining a very relaxed, hip, outer affect. (The fact that we were all wearing huge name badges may factor in here, but I like to think he remembered me from the time our eyes met when I asked him a question during the keynote address, or perhaps afterward when we chatted intimately at the book signing.)
ANYway, Bud and I ended up hanging out, having drinks with him and talking about publishing and using Poetry 180 in the classroom. After a while, the perky conference chairwoman announced that the line dancing was beginning. Billy Collins looked at us and said, “Shall we?” Next thing I knew we were out on the dance floor doing the Boot Scootin’ Boogie.
I thought that was as good as it could possibly get.
When I arrived at the conference this morning, I found that Bud had signed me up as one of only fifteen highly privileged people to take an impromptu master class with the Boot Scooter himself. During the class, I read aloud a piece I had just written, and he said it reminded him of Gertrude Stein. Me and Gertrude Stein in the same sentence. Thank you, Bud.
I can now die a happy woman.
I line danced with the poet laureate.
That beats Paris Hilton hands down, don’t you think?