When I first started worldbuilders six years ago, I did the whole thing out of my living room. It was just an idea I was trying out on my blog, so the only prizes I had to give away were my own books, and I had grand dreams of maybe, just maybe raising as much as $5000 for Heifer International.
Now Worldbuilders occupies a whole building and has several full time staff. Over the last five years we’ve raised more than $2,000,000 dollars for Heifer International. And it looks like in our first five days of our 2013 fundraiser, we have a chance of raising more than we did in our entire first year….
Most importantly, it’s a team effort now. These days, authors from all over the world send us signed books. Publishers, fans, and businesses do the same thing. We have a veritable treasure trove of cool swag to give away.
But even so, every year I like to throw in a blog full of my own books, just for old time’s sake:
Five pairs of NOTW and WMF. Signed by Patrick Rothfuss.
If you already have copies, you can give them away as gifts or use their delightfully absorbent paper to clean up spills in the kitchen.
Pro tip: Two hardcover copies of NotW are perfect for raising your computer monitor up to the correct ergonomic height:
Merciful Buddha, can you even tell that’s a desk? Or a monitor? Believe it or not, that’s where the magic happens. (It’s also where the e-mail happens, which is somewhat less magical.)
Just take my word for it. They’re the perfect size to raise your computer monitor high enough so you don’t get a crick in your neck.
I’ll write something nice in these books. Like some of my favorite quotes. Or a thank you for supporting worldbuilders. Or maybe a secret non-spoilery quote from a future unnamed book….
Nostalga and taunting aside, I’m also going to include some books that are simply hard to find anywhere else.
One First Edition/First Printing copy of The Name of the Wind. Signed according to your desire.
Behold the glory of the original NotW cover. Affectionately nicknamed “The Fabio.”
I have just a handful of these left, carefully squirreled away. We used to keep them stocked in the store, but they kept selling out even when we put them up for $800 dollars. This one is going into the lottery where anyone can win it so long as they donate at least $10 on our Heifer Team page.
If you win it, I’ll sign and personalize it however you like. You can also chose the green man cover if you prefer.
We’re also going to put one up for auction:
Auction One First Edition/First Printing The Name of the Wind. Signed according to your desire.
As above. But this one is getting auctioned off. I’ll sign it however you like. And you can pick whichever cover you like.
Auction: One signed British ARC of The Name of the Wind. Signed according to your desire.
Now this is a *real* rarity.
ARCs are pretty rare, always rarer than the actual first printings of a book. This British ARC is much more rare than the black-bound US galley, plus it’s fairly pretty to boot. I’ve only ever seen THREE of these in person.
This is the first anthology that ever published a short story of mine, which I mentioned in the blog I wrote when it came out.
There were only 5000 of these books printed, so they’re in pretty short supply. This version is particularly cool as it’s been signed by a few more of the authors and the awesome cover artist.
We have a few copies of this in The Tinker’s Packs, too, if you’re interested. But those are only signed by me.
One rare copy of Your Annotated, Illustrated College Survival Guide. Signed by Patrick Rothfuss. Doodled by Brett Hiorns.
This book is so out-of-print it isn’t even funny. There were only 500 of them printed back in 2005, long before my novels were published.
This is a collection of humor columns that I wrote for the campus paper back when I was a college student. It’s signed by me, and signed and doodled by the artist, Brett, who happens to also work here at Worldbuilders now. He likes to remind me of how many late nights he spent at the paper office, waiting for my article so he could doodle something quickly, and how sometimes, this job isn’t all that different.
We’re putting one in the lottery where anyone can win it, and second one up in anauction, for those of you who really *really* need it.
5 pairs of The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Thing Beneath the Bed and The Dark of Deep Below. Signed by Patrick Rothfuss.
Sometimes, it seems like the Princess books are one of the best kept secrets that I’m not trying to keep secret. Millions of people have read my novels, but the a lot of folks have never even heard of the Princess book.
I’d like to fix that, so I’ve put 5 sets of the first and second Princess book into the lottery, in the hopes of making someone’s day, if not exactly *brighter* then maybe a little more interesting.
3 limited edition copies of The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle: The Dark of Deep Below. Signed by Patrick Rothfuss and Nate Taylor
The limited editions of The Dark of Deep Below come with a beautiful, color cover, leather binding, and an awesome signature page, signed by both me and Nate Taylor, who did the illustrations. Beyond that, they also have cool extras in the back, showing some of my notes to Nate, some of his original sketches, and the original script of the book that I wrote.
You can still buy some over at Subterranean, but every $10 you donate to the Team Heifer page will get you a chance to win one of the 3 I’ve thrown into the lottery, as well.
Auction: A rare beta copy of The Dark of Deep Below.
Everything I write has beta readers, and every beta reader copy looks about the same. I print it, get it spiral bound, and hand it out, along with a red pen.
These are the books I give to people to get feedback before we finalize the story. This particular beta shows the The Dark of Deep Below in its unfinished state, some of the pictures are different, and entire pages are changed in the final version.
While it’s not as nice as the limited edition from Subterranean Press, it’s a lot rarer. I only printed about 15 of these, and you can bid on this one over here.
* * *
To be eligible to win one of the lottery prizes, all you have to do is donate $10 or more to the Team Heifer Page. Feel free to swing by the Lottery Library to see all the prizes currently included.
There are also some great game and gaming auctions going that will be ending on Sunday night that you can see on our eBay page.
Stay tuned, folks, you’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg so far….
I mentioned his book on the blog a while back. It’s called Ready Player One. And not only did I like it enough to give it a blurb. I liked it enough to dig up his e-mail address and gush to him directly about how much I loved it.
I think the entire content of my first e-mail was, “Your book is fucking awesome.”
I tried to get them to use that for the blurb on the back, (“This book is fucking awesome.” — Patrick Rothfuss) But their marketing people wouldn’t go for it.
Anyway, Ernest got an invite to Wootstock from Wil Wheaton, who is narrating the audiobook of Ready Player One. Ernest, being a generous human being, asked if I’d like to share some of his stage time.
I said yes. I said it in a firm, manly, baritone. Then I hung up the phone and laughed my most maniacal laugh.
Right. So. We all on the same page here?
7:00 – Backstage.
I walk up to the side door of the Balboa Theater in San Diego. Someone was waiting for me at the door, where they gave me this:
My very first All Access pass. It makes me feel like a rockstar.
I go backstage and down into the secret parts of the theater. It’s a magical sort of place. It’s a secret place that only the performers get to see, and it’s electric in a way that’s hard to describe. Everyone there is getting ready for the show. They’re excited, and a little nervous, and happy to see each other. Plus it’s comic-con, so we’re all a little exhausted. And a few of us are slightly tipsy, too… (Though not me, as I’m not much of a drinker.)
There’s a blur of people all over the place. Some of them I recognize, like Adam Savage from Mythbusters. And the guys from Rifftrax (who used to do MST3K.)
I’m introduced to a few people in a whirlwind fashion. I shake hands and nod at names. But they all run out of me like water. If I say, “someone said” or “someone did” I’m not trying to protect anyone’s identity, or snub them. It’s because a lot of the evening is a blur to me. I suck at meeting people, and I only have space in my head for about 5 new names.
Then I turn around and Wil Wheaton is there.
It’s weird meeting someone you kinda already know. And I kinda know Wil from a bunch of different directions. From his blog, from Star Trek, from his books, and from the Guild.
Plus we e-mailed just a little a day or two before Wootstock. I won’t bullshit you, that made me kinda tingly.
Anyway, we’re introduced, and we shake hands. He thanks me for the nice things I said about his book on my blog. And I’m a little surprised that he’s read it, though I shouldn’t be, I suppose. I tell him that I loved it.
That’s all we have time for. The stage manager is gathering everyone up to make some announcements before the show.
We all jam into a room and Liz is introduced. She is the boss. She tells us how it’s all going to work. She tells us we can watch from backstage, and that we should, so that we don’t miss our cues. She tells us to stick to our allotted time. She tells us where the beer and pizza are.
Everyone else nods attentively. There are a few jokes. But all of this is old hat for most of them.
Me? I’m grinning like an idiot. The show hasn’t even started yet and I’m having the best time….
* * *
I should explain something. I used to do lots of group-performance type things. I used to sing in choirs. I used to do radio comedy. I used to act a little, and did a few plays, a musical or two.
I even used to do a little improv comedy. Which is like a trial by fire. Once you do improv comedy, no other type of performance will ever truly frighten you.
Now I didn’t do a lot of these things seriously. But I did them. I enjoyed them.
And I miss them.
You see, one of the downsides of being a writer is that it’s a very solitary occupation. If everything is going well with my writing, I’ll spend 10-12 hours a day alone, and the rest of my time sleeping. (Also alone, usually.)
When I do get out to do a reading or a convention, I have a lot of fun. I enjoy meeting fans and signing books. I enjoy doing Q&A and reading stuff to an audience. It’s a nice opportunity for me to go out and be social.
But while it’s social, it’s a very solitary type of performance. I’m up in front of 200-600 people talking. There’s just me and the audience.
I’d forgotten what it was like to be part of a group of performers. To be a piece of a WE.
It feels great.
* * *
Liz makes one last announcement. They’ve gone to the worst seat in the house and borrowed the person’s camera. They’re going to pass it around backstage and we’ll all take pictures with it. That way the poor schlub with the worst seat will have a cool memento of the show and, as a bonus, the pictures will go online so everyone can use them.
It’s only because of the photoset that I have a shot of Ernest and me backstage, wherein I am getting my Kawaii on.
The show kicks off, and after cadging a piece of free pizza, I head upstairs we head up onto stage and watch the show from the wings. The theatre is gorgeous. A place with some real style to it.
It’s certainly the biggest house I’ve ever played to, and I’m a little nervous. But despite the fact that I’m anxiously fretting over what exactly I’m going to read, I can’t help but get pulled in by Molly Lewis playing the ukulele.
Her songs crack me up as I watch from backstage, and it helps me relax a bit.
Then, as I’m watching her play, a little motion catches my attention from the corner of my eye. So I look over and see Wil Wheaton dancing.
Before that point, I liked Wil Wheaton. I knew he was cool. I respected him as a writer, enjoyed him as a performer, and admired him as a strong, smart, outspoken member of the geek community.
But backstage in the Balboa theatre, I watched Wil Wheaton do a happy, goofy little dance, and that was when I started to love him.
Soon afterwards, Ernest gets his cue and heads out onto stage. He reads some hardcore geek poetry. Good stuff. He’s a good performer, too. Gets a good reaction from the crowd.
Then he introduces me. I’m a surprise guest of sorts, as I’m not on the program. People cheer when they hear my name, which is kind of a shock. It’s then that I decide what I’m going to read. I’m not going to try to follow Ernest’s poetry with more poetry. I think he’s got me beat in that regard.
I’m not going to read a piece out of my book, either. Too clunky. I even decide against reading a piece of a short story I’m working on.
No. A whole theatre of people cheering and my new man-crush Wil Wheaton watching from the wings means I go straight to my best material. The piece I keep in my back pocket whenever I do a reading. My sure-fire winner. My big gun.
I pull out The Guinea Pig Story.
Those of you who have seen me at a live reading might have heard it. Most of you have not.
It’s one of of the humor pieces I wrote back in college. Theoretically I was writing an advice column, but realistically I was making fun of people and telling incriminating stories about my life.
Here’s the only video I was able to find of the performance. The first little bit of my performance is cut off there, but it’s only about a sentence of the letter someone wrote in, asking for advice about keeping pets in their dormroom.
I got a great reaction from the audience, and left the stage feeling roughly ten thousand feet tall.
8:00 – Random House Party
After hanging around for a while and watching a few more acts, Ernest said he was going over to the Random House party and asked if I’d like to come along.
Though I was loathe to leave, I figured I should go and rub some elbows with some more bookish types. That’s kinda my job in some ways.
So I went to the party, hung out with some folks, and ended up riding a mechanical bull.
Why? No. Why is not the right question. I was at San Diego ComicCon. The proper question is “why the fuck not?”
That party was fun, but after about 45 minutes, I made my excuses and headed back to Wootstock. Because, y’know, Wootstock.
9:00 ish – More Wootstock.
I got back just in time for intermission, where I amused myself by handing out copies of the Chick Tract Dark Dungeons to members of the audience. I hope nobody thought I was serious….
After all my tracts were gone, I used my fancy pass to get backstage, feeling rockstar all over again. I wandered down to the dressing rooms and bumped into Felicia Day, who was also a surprise guest. I got a free hug and we chatted for about forty-five seconds before someone tells her she’s about to miss her entrance cue.
Somehow, someone managed to catch us on film during that brief moment. Proving that I’m not a big fibber.
I hang around and chat with folk, occasionally watching some of the show from backstage. I catch Jeff Lewis (Vork, for you Guildies out there) doing a piece of honest-to-god standup comedy. The man has amazing comic timing and delivery. As you’d already know if you were watching The Jeff Lewis 5-minute Comedy Hour.
11:30 ish – Autographing.
Eventually the show wraps up with a great closing number that I watch from the wings. Then I head downstairs to get my backpack and maybe another slice of pizza before I head out. When I’m gathering up my stuff, someone asks if I want to stick around and sign autographs. I shrug and agree, because I have nowhere else in particular to be.
Now over the last couple of years I’ve done a lot of signings. It’s old hat in a lot of ways. Usually I’m all alone. I’m a one-man-show.
But this one was different. A bunch of the performers were sticking around to sign posters and programs.
What’s more, at Wootstock, most of the people could give a damn about me. They’re there to see Wheaton, or Savage, or bask in the radiant glory of Paul and Storm.
And you know what? It was nice doing a signing where most folks didn’t care who I was. It gave me a chance to goof off and get to know the people sitting on either side of me. To my left was the aforementioned Molly Lewis. And to my right was someone I didn’t know at all, but I quickly learned that she was Amy Berg, writer/producer for Eureka (among many other things.)
So we hang out and chat as the line of people slowly trickles past. I’m feeling pretty relaxed. I’ve had a good day. I was on a panel with George Martin, had dinner with Jim Butcher, and got to chat with Wil Wheaton. I went to a party with an actual velvet rope, and the bouncer nodded me through even though I wasn’t on the list. I rode the mechanical bull and didn’t hurt myself. I got a hug from Felicia day and made a thousand people laugh….
It’s been a busy 14 hours, and I’m in that warm, happy place that comes when you know you don’t have to work any more. And, because I’m in a good mood, I start to joke around with the people coming through the line….
And that’s when I *really* start to get to know the people sitting on either side of me. I draw a picture of a duck on someone’s poster, and they mock me for its utter terribleness. They mocked me with a sharp-tongued viciousness I haven’t experienced since most of my best friends moved away from Stevens Point.
So I abandoned drawing and started signing clever things on the posters. Then my neighbors started writing things on their posters that were clever-er. And I feel really put out by this, because normally *I* get to be the witty one, and they were out wittying me without hardly trying. I felt the sudden need to step up my game, to say nothing of wanting to buy some of Molly’s music and catch up on the current season of Eureka….
The signing went on for at least a couple hours, and it was the perfect end to the perfect day. As I left the theater I felt that strange, glowy feeling that comes when you level up. It wasn’t until I got home that I found out where the XP boost had come from:
Best of all, I’d made it through two entire days at the convention without making an ass of myself in front of anyone.
So I’m driving by Taco Bell the other day, and the sign outside says, “Ultimate Chalupa.”
Naturally, I’m intrigued. Not just any old chalupa, not even a Really Good Chalupa. They’re selling the Ultimate Chalupa. The end-all be-all of chalupas. How can I pass up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?
So I lane-change across three lanes of traffic and hurry inside. “Do you still have the Ultimate Chalupa?” I ask.
The guy behind the counter gives me a blank look and nods.
I’m so relieved. “Thank god. I’ll take it.”
So I pay my two bucks and change, and step to the side, waiting to them to complete whatever terrifying alchemy is required to produce the Ultimate Chalupa. It takes almost two minutes, so I’m guessing something pretty complex is going on back there.
And all the while I’m thinking: Wow. Ultimate Chalupa. This thing is going to be awesome. It’s going to be the Chalupa equivalent of Optimus Prime.
But just as they’re finishing, someone else steps up to the register behind me. She orders the Ultimate Chalupa too. I felt a little guilty, but also a little smug as I wait for the guy behind the register to explain to her that they’d already sold it.
But get this. He nods and rings up her order! I look over at him, pissed, and say, “What the hell are you doing?”
He gives me a blank look. I think this guy specializes in blank looks. “What?”
“I already bought the Ultimate Chalupa,” I said. “It’s mine. You can’t sell it to her.”
Another blank look. He buys them in bulk at Costco. He got his associate’s degree in blank look at the local tech. “There’s your Chalupa.” He points at a tray being slid across the counter toward me.
“That’s not the Ultimate Chalupa!” I said, pointing at the woman. “Now she’s got the Ultimate Chalupa!” I slam my hand down on the tray. “This is just the Penultimate Chalupa! That’s not what I ordered! I didn’t pay $2.79 for some fucking Penultimate piece-of-shit Chalupa!”
The conversation spiraled out of control from there. The woman left in tears, and the guy behind the counter eventually used up his vasty store of blank looks, and was forced to use other looks that he wasn’t nearly as skilled with, like confused, irritated, and exasperated. He even had one that might have been flummoxed, but I’m not sure. He wasn’t very good at it, and I don’t think he really knew it was for.
Eventually I produced a Webster’s dictionary and proof that I did, in fact, have a Masters degree in English. This left them with no choice but to throw my ass out of Taco Bell yet again.
I stood in the parking lot and cursed them for a while. Then I climbed up on the sign and found out that someone had left the box of letters there. So I changed the sign to read, “Rather Good but by no means Ultimate Chalupa.”
Unfortunately, that used most of the letters, so my options were limited for the other side of the sign. All I could spell with what was left was, “Taco Bell – Everybody Masturbates on Us.”
Then I left. All in all, I’m counting the experience as a moral victory.
Editor’s note: I actually wrote this back when I was doing the College Survival Guide, but I figured I’d post it up here so people could get a cheap chuckle out of it while I’m busy with revisions.
The short version of the story is this. A reader sent me a very polite invitation to her high-school graduation party, and since I was going to be in the area anyway for Wiscon, I thought I’d stop by and say hello.
Of course I failed to take into account the fact that I’m an idiot. So while I remembered the party was over Memorial Day weekend, I didn’t make note of anything else, such as the address of the party, the person’s contact information, or even her name.
The bad news was that I did miss the party. The good news is that I did eventually get in touch with the reader. (Her name was Breanna, by the way.)
The weird news was that over the last couple months, I’ve had at least fifty people ask me if I ever managed to get in touch with her. It was kinda strange. I’d be doing a reading in California, and when I threw open the floor for questions, someone would ask, “did you ever make it to that girl’s party?”
So, in the interest of giving everyone the closure they so desperately desire, I figured I’d let y’all know what happened.
This last weekend we finally managed to get together. We grabbed coffee and hung out for a little bit.
Awww…. (Yes, she’s taller than me. No, I don’t have a problem with that.)
I also finally got to give her the graduation present I meant to bring to her party. A remnant of my checkered past: a copy of my College Survival Guide.
I’m including this picture mostly so y’all can make fun of my handwriting.
That’s all for today. Just a little closure on a story I started a couple months ago. See? I can do it. It just takes some time….
It’s strange to me, knowing that if I write a blog, thousands of people will read it. Thousands and thousands. A ridiculous number of people, really.
It was less strange when I wrote the College Survival Guide for the campus paper. With the column, I knew what my job was. I wanted to make people laugh, and maybe, occasionally, slip a bit of reasonable advice to my unsuspecting readership.
Pure advice is unpalatable. It’s preachy. But if you make people laugh a little, they may not notice you’ve slipped them a little bit of truth. And even if they do notice, they’re more likely to forgive you for it.
I was a tiny bit of a local celebrity when I wrote that column for the campus paper. A few hundred people read it every week. On rare occasion people would recognize me as that-guy-who-writes-that-column. Once, the guy delivering a pizza to my house looked at my name on the credit card receipt and said, “Are you THE Pat?”
I laughed. “I didn’t know I’d become superlative,” I said.
I haven’t done the column for a couple years. These days I channel my humor writing into the blog instead. But there’s a difference. Back then I was a little bit famous because people read my column. Now people read my blog because I’m a little bit famous.
There’s more to it than that, of course. People read the blog because it’s amusing, or because they’re interested in news about upcoming projects and appearances. They tune in because they’re curious about book two, or because they’re looking for writing advice.
But mostly, people read the blog because they read my book and were curious about the author.
So I tell stories and post pictures. I screed and opine. I post up little pieces of my life. Then y’all take those pieces, fit them together, and you form an impression of me in your heads.
This is the interesting thing. It’s something I think about a lot. That person you create in your head out of these bits and pieces. That Pat Rothfuss you get to know from the blog, he’s fictional.
(It’s true that you could say the same thing of anyone. You could say that you don’t really *know* any of your friends or family, you just have flawed impressions of them based on your limited perceptions and experience.
This might be true in some small theoretical way, but in a bigger more practical way it’s pure bullshit. You know your friends. Let’s not become hopelessly meta here. If you follow that line of reasoning too far you end up in the pointless philosophical morass of relativistic solipsism.)
Anyway, my point is this: I think about this fictional Pat Rothfuss sometimes. I wonder what he’s like.
I expect in some ways, fictional Pat is pretty much like me. I’m honest to the point of blinding stupidity, and I talk about things here on the blog that any sensible person would keep quiet about. Anyone who’s ever seen me speak in public can attest to the fact that I can’t help but express myself freely and clearly, even if it’s not entirely appropriate.
Still, I can’t deny that I present an edited version of my life on here. The blog lies by omission. I talk about my signings and answer fanmail. I post a cute picture of my baby and talk about the new foreign edition of my book. I link to an interview and do a fundraiser for my favorite charity.
Given all of that, fictional Pat seems to have a pretty swank life. He seems really nice. He seems kinda cool.
And that makes me feel dishonest, because it’s not really true. You’re putting together the fictional me without the grubby bits. The truth is, I am at times a contemptible human being. The truth is, I have deplorable habits.
For example, when I go on Facebook, I post status updates talking about Dr. Horrible. Or I joke about the dream where I ended up in bed with Willow and Spike. I don’t mention what happened the other day with Oot.
You see, right now Oot loves my beard. In terms of desirability, beard ranks #3 in all creation. Boobs hold the top spot, of course, and the telephone is currently a strong #2. But other than that, he loves nothing more than to clutch at my beard.
I think gripping it appeals to some primal, monkey part of him. He gets his sticky little hands tangled up in the beard, and some piece of his primal baby brain thinks: “Good. I’m safe. If we’re attacked by a predator and forced to run to safety, I won’t be left behind.”
The problem is this: if you don’t have a long beard, you have no idea how painful it is to have it pulled. He could swing from my hair from all I care. He’s even managed to kick me square in the junk several times in an ongoing campaign of sibling prevention. Those pains are nothing by compairison. Having your beard pulled hurts as much as when you’re walking around barefoot in the middle of the night and you stub your little toe really hard against a table-leg.
Usually I’m able to head him off when he grabs for it, but his motor skills have really been developing lately. So the other day, before I know it, he has both drooly little hands in it up to his forearms, then he yanks on it for everything he’s worth.
“Ahhh!” I shout. “Stop it you little fucker!”
Oot doesn’t seem to mind in the least. For all he knows I’ve just called him by one of his other countless names, (Thunderbutt, Prancibald, The Dampener…) He just laughs and tugs the beard some more, happy to be safe from prowling lions and packs of hyenas.
Still, it’s a shitty thing to say to your baby, and I feel bad about it.
The point is this: I suspect that fictional Pat would never refer to his adorable baby as, “you little fucker.” I suspect he’s better than that. I expect he’s a nicer person than I am.
Part of me thinks, even as I write this, “Of course you don’t talk about those things on the blog. Why *would* you? That’s not why people read the blog. You’re supposed to be putting your best foot forward….”
But then I think about that fictional Pat again, and I feel dishonest. There’s a difference between putting your best foot forward and subtly misrepresenting yourself.
The thing is, professionally, I should be careful here on the blog. If I was going to be smart about this, I’d never talk about sex or politics or religion, never make any jokes that could offend anyone, never tell you a story that makes me looks like the idiot I sometimes am. The smart thing for me to do is carefully groom and maintain this fictional Pat and use him as a promotional tool.
But the truth is, the thought of maintaining that sort of professional persona makes me distinctly uncomfortable. Given the choice, I think I’d rather be too honest and have you like me a little less. I’d much prefer to look like a bit of an ass, because… well… I am a bit of an ass.
So tomorrow I think I’ll post up a story of one of the countless times I’ve made an fool of myself in public. Maybe I’ll tell a few of those stories. I don’t know if they’ll help round out the fictional Pat some of you have come to know, but I expect it will make me feel a little bit less like a poser.
Barring that, it should be good for a laugh or two.
Any of you who have been to my book signings know I tend to move back and forth between reading my stuff and doing Q&A.
I do this partly to break up the potential monotony of an hour of straight reading, and partly because I really like to answer questions. Any sort of question, really. That’s part of the reason I became a teacher, I think. And it probably factored into my decision to keep writing my College Survival Guide for about 10 years.
I even, believe it or not, wrote a sex advice column for a while. Under an assumed name.
When I do Q&A at a reading, there are some things that get asked a lot. Things like, “Where do you get your ideas?” or “Do you base your characters on real people?”
Then there are the questions that don’t get asked very often. Like, “Do you like cats?” or “How do you feel about circumcision?”
This last question got asked when I was down in Lexington. Strangely, wasn’t the first time I’d been asked. I actually wrote an column on it back when I was doing the Survival Guide. As luck would have it, I had a copy of that column with me. So I read it.
After the reading when I was signing books, someone said, “You should post that one up on line.”
“I probably should,” I said.
So here it is…
I’m in a weird situation. Normally I pride myself in minding my own business. I keep my nose out of my friends affairs (literally) and generally keep my opinions to myself.
But recently I ended up doing some research into circumcision. Not female circumcision, which everyone in their right mind generally admits it barbaric and creepy, but good old fashioned guy circumcision. The type that’s done to almost all newborn boys here in the good old U S of A.
I found out not only is it totally unnecessary, but it’s generally bad for the little kids. Despite the fact that it’s the standard thing here in the US, where almost 90% of guys are circumcised.
My problem is, I have a friend who is about to give birth. Maybe to a little boy. Now that I know all the horrible things that can result from Circumcision, I feel like I should try to tell her about it so she won’t do it.
But isn’t this kinda sticking my nose in where it doesn’t belong? I can’t think of a good way to approach her. I mean, I don’t have a penis myself, so I can’t really speak from experience. I have been with guys both cut and uncut, and I was surprised to find out how much I liked the unedited penis. But again, I doubt that’s the right way to approach things with my friend.
How can I mention this to her without offending her for getting in her business?
Student Not Into Penis Slicing.
Your College Survival Guide, the place to go when you really need to learn the finer points of dick discussion etiquette. I’m like Miss Manners with tourettes.
Alright, SNIPS, I’m going to glide right by a few too-obvious jokes about your nose, and get right to the business of answering your question. Back when I was younger I would have taken this as a golden opportunity to make a lot of wang jokes.
But I’ve matured since then. So, instead, I’m going to slide as many innuendo-laden puns into the column as humanly possible. Also, just to make it a challenge, I’m going to use a new euphemism for the male member each time I refer to it.
First I feel like I need to correct one of the statements you made in your letter. Uncircumcised fellas are more common than you make them out to be. Back in the 1960′s about 90 percent of baby boys got the chop, but the circumcision rate these days is closer to 60%, as more and more people get clued in to the situation by helpful folks like you and me.
Secondly, the proper slang term for an gent’s uncircumcised dangle-bob isn’t “unedited,” it’s “director’s cut.” Occasionally it’s even a “special edition director’s cut,” but that’s very rare.
Hmmm. You’re right though. This is a touchy subject. But there’s a big difference between being pushy, and just giving your friend some valuable information. Still, it should be handled delicately. Here are some opening lines you might want to avoid:
“Jenny, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about your baby’s penis.”
“Have you ever thought that hacking a chunk off the end of your newborn’s wing-wang might not be the best way to welcome him into the world?”
“Y’know, if I was going to have sex with your son, I’d prefer him to be uncircumcised.”
The more I think about it, maybe you don’t want to try to get a rise out of her. Instead maybe you could just try to bring it up casually instead.
Maybe quoting a few facts would be the way to go. Don’t be accusatory, just point out why, exactly, chopping someone’s fireman off isn’t cool. Point out that since the foreskin actually has about a third of the penis’ nerve endings on it, cutting it off it pretty much the same as a partial clitorectomy. In plainer terms, it’s like cutting off a good chunk of a little girl’s clit. As you said in your letter: barbaric and creepy.
Think of it guys. You know how you think your Johnson is pretty awesome now? Imagine if it was 33% more awesome. Yeah. I know. It boggles the mind. I expect some manner of radiant light would constantly be emanating from my pants. Most of us would never leave the house. The fact that a piece of my winkie was torn off without my approval leaves me feeling a little bent out of shape. Figuratively speaking.
You could also direct your friend to a good website or two, so she can gather her own facts. www.notjustskin.org has a remarkably well-researched and easy to read FAQ on the subject. Including some information about how the surgery might be seriously traumatic for the newborns involved.
In closing, for all my fellow fellows out there, if your parents gave your special purpose the snip, don’t hold it against them. Because, y’know, that would be pretty weird.
It’s interesting to note that I wrote this a couple years before I became a dad. It was nice, actually, having done this research ahead of time. Because I knew from the beginning that I didn’t want to circumcise the baby if it was a boy.
But even if I hadn’t done the research, I probably would have been convinced when I saw The Circumstraint:
That’s really what it’s called. It’s the plastic thing they strap your baby down onto so he doesn’t struggle around too much while they’re trying to cut off a piece of his dick. The nurses thought I was kinda weird for wanting to take a picture of it.
While part of me, the scientific part, can acknowledge the fact that something like this helps keep the baby safe during the procedure. The rest of me is filled with a mute horror at the thought of someone tying my baby down onto this thing so they can cut him. Not because he *needs* it. Just, y’know, because. Tradition. And stuff.
A lot of times when people meet Oot, they say things like, “He’s such a happy baby.” Or “He’s so friendly and trusting.”
Sometimes I want to reply, “Well, we got things off on the right foot by not cutting off a piece of his dick.”
Can you imagine what sort of an introduction that must be to the world? There’s a big, long squeeze, then suddenly everything is really bright and cold. Maybe you get a bit of a cuddle and a taste of breast. Then you’re strapped down and someone cuts off a piece off one of the most sensitive areas of your body. Welcome to being alive, little guy.
[Edit - There has been too much ass-hattery in the comments. So I'm turning them off because I don't want to deal with it.]
I’ve had several people e-mail me in this last week asking for Valentine’s Day advice.
Unfortunately, I’m at the end of a long stretch of revisions right now, and it would break my stride to write an appropriately frothy, bile-filled screed about this most abhorrent of qua-holidays.
Then I realized I didn’t need to write a new screed. I probably had an old one on file from when I wrote a weekly advice column for the college paper.
So I dug around in my files a bit and found one. Actually, I found several, but here’s the one I liked the best.
Share and Enjoy:
What are your feelings towards Valentine’s Day? Personally, I believe it is just another Hallmark holiday in which consumerism reaches its ugly hand in the picture, forcing couples to exchange gifts and singles to feel like crap.
By the way, what are you getting your girlfriend/sister? Teehee.
For those of you who missed last week’s column, the last line of Jessie’s letter is a reference to a joke I made. Just so nobody is confused let me re-state again, for the record, that I am NOT dating my sister.
Not that there’s anything wrong with my sister, mind you. She’s great: smart, funny, and hot. It’s just that we’re really good friends, and I worry that getting into a relationship might jeopardize that.
*ahem* Okay. Moving on.
Honestly Jessie, I’d all but forgotten that Valentine’s Day is coming up. You see, I don’t pay much attention to crap like that. And that’s what VD is: a big, steamy pile of crap in a shiny heart-shaped box.
You were right in your letter. As a holiday, it’s made-up bullshit. But Hallmark didn’t start it, Chaucer did. He wrote “The Parliament of Fowles” back in the late 1300′s. I tell you, there’s only one time in history that more crap has been spawned from bad poetry, and that’s the musical Cats.
Now I don’t want to get a bunch of huffy letters with people telling me VD all started with St. Valentine, the priest who was imprisoned and fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. If it were true, February 14th would be Go-Fuck-A-Priest day. A holiday, I might add, that I would wholeheartedly endorse.
But no, what we have is Valentine’s Day. The day designed to convince you that if you don’t spend money on someone, right now then you’re not really in love. Prove your eternal devotion through a four-dollar greeting card sporting some freakishly deformed bug-eyed puppy on the front. Go ahead and give someone the severed sexual organs of a plant. Diamonds are forever. Every Kiss begins with Kay.
(You can tell it’s an older column, because Brett’s illustration is in B&W and optimized for newspaper printing.)
Now I’m not just saying this because I don’t have a girlfriend and I’m frothing at the mouth with bitter loneliness and rage. Contrary to what you might think, I do have a girlfriend.
I know, it seems to go against all the laws of god and nature. But not only do I have a girlfriend, not only have we been in a happy, healthy relationship for almost six years, but Sarah is sweet, kind, smart, funny, and almost unfathomably hot.
I know, it boggles the mind.
There are many theories among my family and friends as to why someone like her would take time to smile in my direction, let alone date me for six years.
Some of my more religious-minded friends used to believe that she was working off a hefty karmic debt from a previous life. But this theory lost credibility when one of my calculus-savvy Buddhist friends did the math for me, showing how much bad karma Sarah was actually burning off by dealing with me on a daily basis.
What it boils down to is this, if Sarah had, say, beaten a nun to death with a bag of kittens in a previous life, she could have worked that off in about three weeks of putting up with my endless bullshit. In fact, after six years of living with me she’s built up so much good karma that she’ll most likely reincarnate as a transcendent being composed entirely of white light and multiple orgasms.
Other theories held by my friends and parents include: blackmail, Truman-Show style conspiracy, and the suspicion that she is performing a prolonged psychological experiment.
What does Sarah herself say? I’ll go ask….
In response to the question, “Why the hell do you love me, anyway?” Sarah responded thusly:
“Some part of my soul recognizes part of your soul as being really awesome. And sometimes you take out the trash.” Sarah then made several sexually explicit comments that cannot be reprinted here. Suffice to say that apparently I possess certain skills that shall remain nameless.
Lastly, she gazed rapturously at me and said that I was “gorgeous.”
All this seems to confirm my personal theory, that she has some kind of brain tumor that makes her love me. Really, it’s the only thing that makes sense.
The only other explanation is that I treat her with kindness and respect. Or because when I give her a gift she knows it comes from a sincere upwelling of emotion, not because it’s National Buy-A-Gift Day (TM). Maybe it’s due to the fact that I make a habit of not taking her for granted, and I tell her I appreciate her, rather than buying a card that says it for me once a year.
Yeah. I know. Too crazy. I’m sticking with the tumor theory myself.
That’s all I’ve got for now, folks. I hope each of you end up enjoying V-day in your own special way. If that means drinking a pint of rye whiskey and cursing the unfeeling sky, more power to you.