I was at a book launch last night – kind of a cool thing to be doing on a balmy Thursday evening in Toronto.

It was for Fraser Sutherland’s latest book (his 14th!) called “The Philosophy of as If”. It was a poetry book. Settle down. I can hear you giggling from there. Pj at a poetry launch/reading??!! I would have thought the same thing but it really was quite wonderful. In the same way that going for a “local” dinner in a foreign country can be a once in a lifetime experience. Although you don’t really understand what’s going on – if you can find a way to “just go with it” you can have a great time. Just make eye contact with “the locals”, smile a lot and murmur “thank you” and touch your heart a lot to show your sincerity. One warning, you have to make sure to not ask too many questions . Invariably, when you ask a question, someone is going to answer it and that can only lead to trouble. What I mean by that is that every group/nationality/family or even club has its’ own traditions and language and it seems normal to them. If you are not in your own world, other people’s languages and customs can seem a little strange. That goes double for situations where you share a language in common, or at least you think you do, but not traditions.

I was trying to go for something pseudo-intellectual looking in my outfit so I would “blend”. I could not have been further off the mark. There were women in “smart” outfits (my grandmother’s word) and women in “eco-chic” outfits and women who were just plain chic. I am sure the women in the room were saying what is that perspiring woman doing wearing a turtleneck in May? Sigh. I even tried to go for that casual unaffected “toss my hair into a chignon with a comb” look only to have two great big hanks of limp hair fall out on either side of my face. Sigh. I am not going to even comment about the horror of being at the front of the room, seated beside the author and not being able to refresh my lip gloss – I have small lips – and I am not sure without it you could even be sure I was speaking and I was the MC!

I did my best to not offend. I tried to pretend I don’t watch TV. I had my friend Paul give me names of serious authors so when I was asked what I was reading, I was going to be able to say something other than Jackie Collins, Jilly Cooper and People magazine. When someone used a word I didn’t know or made reference to a “serious work” I nodded and went to my default “Ah!” or occasionall “mmmhm.” (For the record – they work in any language and any country – have used them all over the place!)

As much as I considered last night an adventure and the chance to be in a different place with different people – which was fun for me – I often wonder about people landing in my skating world for the first time. How strange it must be to land in the midst of mostly diminutive, powerful, athletic young people moving around backstage together like a bunch of rare, exotic and beautiful birds. A normal view from the window in my world.

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