Friday, September 12, 2014

An Evening with Tom Robbins

Author Tom Robbins was raised in Blowing Rock, NC and left when he was 10.

Many of his memories of those ten short years are included in his new book, "Tibetan Peach Pie:A True Account of an Imaginative Life."  He was exactly the kind of kid you would expect Tom Robbins the author to be.  

An excerpt from Tibetan Peach Pie:  "Allowed to roam freely in both the streets and the woods, I observed and interacted not only with the wonders of nature but with an assortment of squirrel hunters, rabbit trappers, berry pickers, banjo pickers, moonshiners, tramps, real Gypsies, snake handlers, mule-back preachers (like my grandpa), eccentric characters with names such as Pink Baldwin and Junebug Tate, and perhaps most influential, bib-overalled raconteurs, many of whom spun stories as effortlessly and expertly as they spit tobacco juice." 

Blowing Rock declared September 10, 2014 Tom Robbins Day.

On September 11, Mr. Robbins was scheduled to speak at a small venue seating 400 people at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.  

When it became clear that wasn't going to be quite large enough, the event was moved to The Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts which seats 1,684 people. It was a sold out affair.

He spoke, he read and he entertained.

He filled the room with the magic he infuses in his writing.  And the audience thanked him with more than one standing ovation.

A perfect evening.

But with still more to come.

I was a lucky winner of the Take a Trip with Tom Instagram photo contest so was able to meet him.  This in addition to having a front row seat at the event, and being given an autographed copy of Tibetan Peach Pie.

And what's better than being able to come home from an event such as this with a story?!

My friends Jill and Willie went with me and just makes something like this even more fun if you have good friends to share it with.

I'm still on Cloud Nine, and Tom Robbins is every bit as delightful as you would hope if you read his work. 

And here's the story (you knew there would be a story, right?!) If you've read Tibetan Peach Pie, you may have noticed in the last paragraph of the preface, there's an address given where you can write to Tom Robbins and ask for something. 

I did that. Back when I first got the book - the day it was released. 

And I signed my card, "Kaye Barley - See you in Boone!" because I knew he was coming for the events. 

When I was introduced to him last night by Lynn Patterson, one of the people responsible for putting all this together.  (She and everyone else did a bang-up job.  Thank You, Lynn!), she said, "Tom, this is Kaye Barley." 

And he looked at me, his eyes went kinda wide and he grinned really big and said (swear to God), "You wrote to me!" 

He did!  

And did my mouth fall open? 

It did.  

Can you believe it? 

The man is cooler than cool.

So, I bring home a lesson from this.

If you've been following Meanderings and Muses, you would have seen my last post about having the blues.

I guess, like Jon Stewart, I too am an "Angry Optimist."

And the reason I guess I remain an optimist - angry or otherwise - is because of nights like last night and my amazing opportunities that I seem to just fall into.  

Meeting Tom Robbins was not something I ever would have imagined  happening.

Finding him to be every bit as charming and funny and philosophical and delightful and kind were all things I will hold in my heart for a long, long time.

I just wish I could have actually thought of something to say rather than just "How on earth did you remember that?!" when he told me he remembered receiving a card from me.  From that point on, I don't remember saying a word.  I remember him chatting, and telling  someone that he and I were long-time pen pals, and I remember giving him a little kiss on the cheek.

And I remembered that life is, indeed, good.


mybillcrider said...

What a great evening, and a good story, too. He's been a favorite of mine ever since I read Another Roadside Attraction more than 40 years ago.

Jill said...

What a wonderful night!! It was so nice to see you having such a good time. Thank you so much for including me. What a thrill to see Tom Robbins and to see you so happy.