First, the title of this post is kind of a joke. I don’t know anything about being cool. Seriously, I was the girl in high school who wore glasses, came in early, and spent her free time in the library.
I’m the same person as an adult. I just have a healthy dose of cynicism and apathy.
So I’m not talking about the type of “cool” that people associate with James Dean or Colin Farrell. Or, for you kids out there, I’m not talking about the type of “cool” associated with Justin Bieber. (Though that right there will get me a little bit of flack from my husband.)
I’m talking about the type of “cool” that means treating other people with respect, no matter who you are.
I asked my husband a very basic question about politics the other day. I’m not even going to tell you what the question was, but most people would know the answer. I’ve never followed politics, but because my husband is fascinated by politics, I’ve spent the last year trying to understand it, follow it, and speak intelligently about it. (I’m still working up my nerve on that last one.)
My husband could have pulled the A-hole move and talked down to me. He could have patted me on the head and told me to go back to my little YA books. He also could have done the thing where you answer the question, then keep expanding on it to show how much you know about something. My husband didn’t do any of those things. He just answered the question and we moved on with the discussion.
This sounds like a little thing. It’s not.
I even remarked on it to him. It’s one of my favorite things about him, that he’ll never be arrogant or nasty about anything.
He said it’s a matter of respect.
I remember once I went out with this guy when I was around 22. My mom set us up, and that should have been a warning sign right there. I mean, the guy drove a Buick. Now look: there is nothing wrong with driving a Buick.
Unless you’re 22.
It was a new Buick, with leather seats and all the bells and whistles. I remember he had a button on the middle dash, something about traction control.
Now, I’m a bit of a dork, and I love knowing how cars work. I’ve been known to read the manual. (Yes, really.) I said to him, “Hey, I’ve never seen a car with a button for traction control. How does that work?”
He said, really snootily, “It controls the car’s traction.”
Not one to be put off, I said, “But how? What does it do?”
I needed an answer. I mean, does it slow the wheels down? Change something about the pull from the engine? I was fascinated by the fact that something like traction could be controlled by pushing a button.
He kept trying to make things up, and I kept asking more questions, and finally he got really flustered and snapped, “Just stop asking questions about the car, okay?”
I think you can all deduce that the first date was also the last.
I mean, he could have just said he didn’t know.
We totally could have looked it up in the manual.
But really, I didn’t start this post to talk about old boyfriends. I actually started it to talk about writers.
A few years ago, I read a post on a very popular agent’s blog about one of that agent’s authors coming out with a book. I loved, loved, LOVED the concept of the book, and I was really excited about it. Here’s the kicker: the book was coming out eighteen months later.
Every now and again, the agent would mention the book on the blog. Around the time I thought the book was due to be released, I couldn’t remember the title. I actually emailed the agent and said, “I’ve been looking forward to this book for a long time, but I can’t remember the title.”
The agent wrote back. The book was coming out soon. I followed the author on Twitter.
On the day I ordered the book, I sent a tweet to the author (a debut author), that essentially said, “Just ordered your book! Been looking forward to it since I first heard about it on [agent’s] blog! Can’t wait.”
I didn’t expect a response. She didn’t know me from anyone. Really, no response would have been fine.
Here’s what I got back:
Now, look. I’m not going to judge anyone’s Twitter style. Like I said, she didn’t need to write back. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions of the interaction right there.
I will tell you that I was kind of turned off.
A few years ago, I read the debut novel of Evangeline Collins, Her Ladyship’s Companion, and it was frigging awesome. It also has a stunning cover. (It’s totally a romance novel, so if that’s not your thing, it won’t be for you.)
I wrote an email to Evangeline Collins, telling her how much I loved her book. Again, no response would have been fine. I know people have lives, and some people get boatloads of emails from readers. Besides, the purpose of my email was to say, “YAY! I loved your work so much that I wanted you to know!” Not to say, “Please engage me in conversation.”
But Ms. Collins wrote back. To thank me. That’s class. And when her next book came out, I immediately pre-ordered it. And loved it.
I had another one of these today. A friend asked for some book recommendations on Twitter. Here’s the conversation:
@BrigidKemmerer oh any book recommendations? im running low. and we need to finally pick a date for a playdate for the boys
If I know they’re on Twitter, I always mention the author when I recommend their books. Not only do they know I liked their stuff, but it usually links back to their website in case people want to find their stuff easily.
I didn’t expect either of those authors to respond.
Barry Lyga did, to say thanks. I almost went all fangirl, because seriously Boy Toy is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s tough to make a book moving and gripping and un-put-down-able while still making it funny enough to make me laugh out loud in places. Incredible book. I almost want to stop writing this post to go read it again.
And the author, the author, took time out of his day and thanked ME.
I mean, come on.
That’s pretty cool.