Or How Not To Buy Your Own Book. The first day The Night Counter came out, my friend Natasha promptly bought it at Barnes and Noble in New York, and another friend did the same in Nashville. So I thought I’m going to go buy my own book, too. Just to see it in a bookstore, you know. I went to the nearest bookstore and looked for it on the new books table. It wasn’t there. Nor was it anywhere around any hard cover books. My heart sank. It must have showed because suddenly there was a concerned store employee at my side. “It should be here,” I boldly began. “The Night Counter. My friend got it in New York. I heard it’s really good, and if New York has it, shouldn’t L.A.?” I could feel my face turning red. “Yeah, for sure…The Night Counter,” he said and started banging computer keys. “Great title…hmm…I bet you it’s about someone counting nights as they go by. What do you think?” “Yeah, probably. It’s supposed to be something clever like that,” I replied, turning even redder.
That’s when he looked at me carefully and smiled. Oh, no. In general, I don’t lie, as I can’t do it without getting flustered. Nor would it be totally inconceivable for me to get flustered around a cute actor dude in L.A. standing in my personal space. He was used to the latter, rather than suspecting that it was dealing with an author going undercover. And there’s nothing like a flattered actor. “I’m going to find The Night Counter. This just isn’t right.” And he went off, with me in his wake, telling me about how he came out here from Ohio for this acting and liked meditating. “I could just come back tomorrow,” I said. “Really, it’s no big deal.” “No, it’s supposed to be in the store, and we’re going to find it,” he said, with great actorly drama, almost running into a Japanese couple, clearly ESL students. “Please, please, can you help us?’ the young woman said. “I’m busy right now,” he announced. “Looking for The Night Counter. What do you need help with?” “We’d like to buy some books,” she whispered. “Well you’re in the right place,” he nodded, and then we were off again, with him explaining I had good energy, just like him. “Tell me you’re not sick of men with no energy,” he winked. “Really I can come back,” I answered, my face turning redder because I kept thinking of all my hard work buried somewhere in this store. “You know this book must still be back in the storage,” he decided. “Just wait on me. I’ll be back. Look at some books or something.”
And so I stared at all the other new releases that were all carefully and tenderly laid out. Until my phone rang. “I’m at the Barnes and Noble at the Grove. The book has good placement, but I’ve moved a copy over to the Twilight section, so it gets more traffic,” shouted my friend Elizabeth, normally a refined, high-powered executive. As I hung up the phone, my book knight appeared. “Ttill stuck back in storage, as I suspected. The Night Counter by Alia. Yunis,” the actor beamed, handing my book to me with flourish. “You’re going to bring the others out, right,” I said. “Soon, I’m sure,” he answered. I wondered if he were on to me or just amused by increased flustering. I prayed he wouldn’t look at the back flap and see the author photo and notice a resemblance, even without the make-up. “You’re good people, seek out other good people,” he advised me, not opening the book. “Me and you, we got those Midwestern roots. We know good people.” “Okay,” I promised, turning redder as I nearly crashed into the hard cover new releases. “You know…um…you should put all The Night Counters out here in this new books section.” “Yes, indeed,” he agreed. I backed all the way to the cashier, thanking him. He seemed willing to chat more, and I suppose I could have chatted up the book, but at this point I was so horrified by my charade, I just wanted to pay and go. At the checkout, the cashier checked my credit card signature with my signature on the receipt. But she never checked my signature with the author’s name.