Sunday, February 24

PROMO: Book Giveaway

Today we're going to have a little different kind of fun here - hopefully! - so let's get started. I'm going to go first on the topic of Jumping To Conclusions and then it'll be your turn.

I'm my most recent novel, SECRETS OF MY SUBURBAN LIFE, heroine Ren D'Arc jumps to a pretty spectacular conclusion based on what she thinks is solid evidence.

Back in August 1993, my husband and I took my mother to England after my dad died. The man that drove us in his black cab from Heathrow to the Russell Hotel was a lovely elderly gentleman by the name of Freddie. Really, he was so totally British, his full name might as well have been Freddie Crumpet, although I never did learn his last name. At any rate, as my husband and mother half-slept in the cab, Freddie and I had quite the conversation. He was a sweet and talkative man, was Freddie, he even told me about the recent death of his son and how tough the loss had been on him and the Mrs. I listened and said what I hoped were the right things. When we got to the Russell, Freddie wrote out his number for me and told me to give him a call when we needed a ride back to the airport. Since my mother worries about little details, and since I'd liked Freddie so much, I called him eight days later.

On the ride back to the airport, Freddie was just as talkative as he'd been on the ride in. And when we arrived at Heathrow, he had a present for me. It was oddly shaped and someone had obviously taken great care in trying to wrap it well. "I just wanted to give you something," Freddie said, "because you have been so kind to me."

How flattering! What a sweet man!

Inside the airport, I unwrapped the present. It turned out to be a brass and gold-plated object with a brush inside - a tool for sweeping out the fireplace.

How perfectly British! How perfectly Freddie Crumpet! How -

Hang on a second here. Could there be a bomb in this thing???

OK, I know this may sound insane, but you have to realize that this was 1993. The first bombing of the World Trade Center had already occurred. Airport security had begun to tighten up dramatically. There were signs and announcements everywhere: "Has anyone you don't know given you something today...?"

What if Freddie, sweet Freddie Crumpet, wasn't so sweet after all? I mean, I didn't really know the man. What if he'd been driven insane by the loss of his son? What if he was angry at the Crown? What if...? And how could I be so irresponsible as to board the plane with this, this, this...*chimney-sweeping* object, what if we blew up over the Atlantic - I wouldn't feel so good about that, plus I'd feel dreadfully guilty - or even if I left it behind at the airport, didn't take it on the plane, Heathrow blew up instead...

"Greg," I urgently said to my husband. "You have to show this to the policemen over there. I think it may be hiding a bomb."

My husband. My poor, poor husband.

He did take the terrifying object over to the two policemen. And then I watched the pantomime safely from afar as one of the policemen used the handle to slowly plunge the brush in and out...and then they both laughed in my poor husband's face, handed the brush back to him, laughed some more as he walked back to me. Really, it's surprising my poor husband didn't run away *from* me. I can be such a whackaloon.

OK, it wasn't a bomb. But there *could* have been a bomb hidden in there somewhere...only there wasn't.


I'll give away one signed copy of SECRETS OF MY SUBURBAN LIFE to one commenter below and we'll let the comments run through Tuesday night just to give stragglers a chance to wander in before awarding a winner. Looking forward to hearing your stories.

Be well. Don't forget to write.


Lynn said...

Hmmm, only one? I have a habit of letting my imagination take over. Like when I was being interviewed for my current job but since I was called back for a third interview with an Assistant Vice President, I thought they were looking at me for bigger assignment, like being a trainer. But it was just a normal part of the interview process for my entry level job. :(

I could tell about the time I was in NY as a teenager and a taxi cab driver got my address from me after backing up the road to talk to me. I never wrote back, I figured he was looking for a US bride to keep his Visa.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Great stories, Lynn! Sorry in the first that they weren't looking to have you head the company; as for the second, I'll bet anything he was drawn to the inner you.

keri mikulski :) said...

Okay, this will be easy because I probably jump to imaginative conclusions at least five times a day.. I'm right there with you on the 'poor husband' comment..

My latest one involves my book which will hit shelves this week (shameless plug #1)... This one has been keeping me up at night and driving my 'poor husband' looney. The other one I is about jogging.

Here it goes: My book, which by the way is published by a small publisher and the teen and teacher panel that reviewed it told the publisher they loved it and not to change a thing (shameless plug #2), will cause a complete uproar in the sports and local community because the main character mentions s-e-x once (gasp) and has a bit of a potty mouth, mostly 'a' words that she tags on to other words, such as suck and dumb (double gasp) :) .. Can anyone say, 'get over yourself'.

Here's another recent one: Today, I was running and I had chest pain. Well of course, it's a heart attack because I'm 31, never smoked, eat healthy, and from prior freak-outs, seen by a cardiologist, had a stress test and EKG all before age 30, which were all perfectly normal. Anyway, I made my partner stop as I was freaking out and clutching my chest. I burped. Immediately, the chest pain went away. :)

Lauren, great timing for this topic!! :)
Keri :)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Keri, those are excellent! Oh, and in our house we joke often about "Lauren's little heart attack" and "Lauren's little aneurysm" since I occasionally get lightning bolts to the chest and head.

Marlayne said...

hmm im digging in the archive, aka my mind..i have had this situations, i am always worrying about the most little things. I recognize the chest in the pain Keri and Laura. One time i was absoultely sure my appendix was..ehm how dou you say that? i mean inflamation. I had this huge pain in my sides. I was so sure it was my appendix.. so i went to the doctor. i was panicking. And the doctor was a littlebit laughing. Because it was not my appendix..just a littlebit muscle pain because i had made some movements in a bad way.. oops!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Oh, Marlayne, that's a great one. I have a brother-in-law who was convinced he had a brain tumor - turned out it was just too much coffee.

Toystory said...

I thought when my son's fiance became pregnant that I would finally be a grandmother. Was I spectacularly wrong when she went the next week and had an abortion

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

I'm sorry, Toystory. That must have been hard for you.

Amanda Ashby said...

Lauren - I was working in London in a winebar in the early 90s and I totally remember having the same reaction when someone left their briefcase behind!!! Turns out it was just a briefcase.

As for thinking aches and pains are worse than they are, I constantly do that, though always remind myself of Jerome K Jerome's Three Men in a Boat where the character read a medical book and thinks he has everything in it (apart from tennis elbow, which he is a bit put out about!!!!)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Amanda, who wonderfully Freudian: "Sometimes a briefcase is just a briefcase." Vive la tennis elbow!

Melissa Walker said...

I have a flight one, too, Lauren. Just after September 11th, I flew from New York to San Francisco and sat next to an old lady who was knitting. KNITTING. With needles! I kept picturing her going up to use the bathroom by the cockpit and suddenly stabbing the flight attendants with her needles and taking over the plane. I was SWEATING BULLETS as I watched this granny make her blanket. When she got up for the restroom, I eagle-eyed her the whole way, but luckily, she left her needles behind so I didn't have to take her down in the aisle. Phew.

Rachael said...

a conclusion i jumped to....hmm, that i would be able to finish my history outline over the weekend. and now it looks like i wont be able to :(

DeenaML said...

Omg, as a teen I SWORE while I was waiting in line at the movies that this girl a few ppl in front of me was my friend. Same jacket, same haircut, same EVERYTHING! So I tapped her on the back and said, "Hey!" She turned around and IT WAS NOT HER! I got this "Who the hell are you" look. Ugh. As a teen, that was traumatizing.

Want one more? In like elementary school, this boy in my class dressed as a little girl and I was convinced he really was a girl from another country who didn't speak English. When he revealed it was him, I laughed -- mostly bc I thought the joke was on HIM that he could so easily pass for a girl.... :)

Great story, Lauren!

Aimee C said...

What a fun idea! Mine is utterly ridiculous. I was driving when someone darted into the road in front of me. I stopped abruptly and she ran past and waved to me signaling me on or apologizing or something but I was shaking and so upset that i was certain some part of my car must have touched her and she just hadn't realized yet and that she would go home and suddenly feel some sort of horrendous pain from the pseudo collision and have me carted off to jail. It was insane but I worried about it for DAYS.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Melissa, oh no, I knit! And you know, I'll bet I could be lethal with those needles.

Rachael, there are still hours left in the weekend - get working, girl!

Deenaml, talk about mistaken identity - one time at Super Stop & Shop, while we were waiting in line to pay, my husband put his arm around the wrong woman. All three of us were surprised!

Aimee, good one! I can honestly say I've committed several acts of idiocy while behind the wheel, thankfully none of them resulting in harm.

Cathy said...


Being the mother of five children and a nurse gives me a professional status.
Professional moron most of the time.
And because my husband is a physician our children get an A+ for unusual symptoms in order to win a free sick day. At first I was gullible, not realizing that crushing chest pain, inability to breathe and feeling dizzy weren’t typical complaints from kids. They must have listened to my husband on the phone with his patients. However, I got smart.

When my oldest son was making the move to middle school, I was proud. Of course, I didn’t know back then about the tumultuous middle school years, but I digress.

On that wonderful morning of the first day of sixth grade, before the ungodly seven o’clock bus, he dressed in his new ‘cool’ clothes. I made him a quick breakfast and he wasn’t hungry. He said his stomach hurt.

I knew what nerves could do. A whole new school, a massive confusing building in his eyes. Four other elementary schools would be mixed together, most children he wouldn’t know. Working a locker combination also had him concerned.

“Oh honey, it’s fine. You’re nervous.”
“No, Mom, it really hurts.”

I clearly understood the anxiety. I sent him off, knowing by ten o’clock the nerves must have settled. I hoped he learned his way around the school and I looked forward to stories of the first day.

By late afternoon I watched him walk down the street, hunched over. His backpack must be filled with brand new text books to cover.

After arriving inside, with his backpack removed, the hunching continued.

Later that night at the hospital, I felt so guilty when they wheeled him into the operating room for his appendectomy.

He’s forgiven me though!

blackroze37 said...

my bf, had a phone number in his pocket, and kept saying, i really dont recall who gave it to me, om like uh huh.. well i called it several times, and no one answered and he just kept kaughign at me, i curse him up and down, finally the 'woman' answered. i jump her too.
turn out it was his boss's wife and the phone number was suppose to be another workers, and my ahole picked it up auto when he it was laid down . the poor woman , i upset her and the boss LUCKY thought it was funny cause ahole got in trouble , i said im sorry to so many times

Bonnie said...

Great post!

I once called 911, convinced that my next-door neighbour, a delightful elderly woman, was dead because she wasn't answering her door and her cute little dog had been barking for ages to go back inside.

When the fire trucks pulled onto our street, I felt someone tap me on my shoulder.

"What's going on?" the tapper asked.

"I think Mary's dead," I said, waving at the fire trucks so they knew which house to come to.

"I'm what?" she asked.

Finally, I turned to look at Mary, who was standing there in her bathrobe, holding her dog in her arms.

And yes, she looked pretty much alive at the time. At least the firefighters were cute. ;)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Cathy, a few paragraphs before the end, I saw that appendectomy coming your family's way. Oh, man - poor you!

BR37, oh, that's a good one! And a great caution against being too jealous.

Bonnie, now that is like a scene from a book: it's got suspense, it's got's got a puppy!

Wendy Toliver said...

Fun post, and I love reading all the stories.
A lot of my stories on this topic have to do with "If you can do it, so can I." Once, when I was about 16, I was on a first date with a really cute guy. There was a blizzard that day and we were going to the movies but we had to park really far away. A barbed wire fence was the only thing keeping us from taking a really great short-cut. So he climbed over it just fine and I, jumping to the conclusion that I could also succeed in this task, followed. Only I got stuck on the top, you know, where there's the most barbed wire? Split my (borrowed) jeans, exposing my leg and bare bottom and oozing blood all over his car seat. Needless to say, the movie didn't happen.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Oh, Wendy! I, too, have done many of those keeping-up-with-the-guys things. Someday I need to tell the story about being hung out a fifth-story window by my ankles, you know, just to keep up!

Wendy Toliver said...

You're CRAZY!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Oh, Wendy, (channeling Jeremy Irons playing Klaus Kinsky), you have no idea...but it'd still make a great blog!

Sara Hantz said...

I KNOW the Russell Hotel - I used to pass it all the time when I lived in London!!

I'm always dropping to the wrong conclusion...... in fact I do it so often my mind's gone blank hahaha

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

At least you're consistent, Sara. Ooh, now I want to go to London!

Karen McQ. said...


I am so loving this blog post and all the comments! I've made this kind of blunder too many times to count, but one in particular comes readily to mind.

I once met up with a woman I hadn't seen in about a year and she'd changed her hairstyle drastically--from very long beautiful hair, to an adorable chic short cut. I spent about twenty minutes raving about how cute her haircut was, and saying I'd often thought of doing the same, but never had the courage to go that short.

After babbling on like this for some time, I asked, "So what made you decide to cut it?"

And she said, "I had brain surgery."

Even now, my face gets red thinking about this. Talk about putting things in perspective...

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Karen: O.M.G. Awful as it is that that poor woman had brain surgery, that is just the most flat-out hysterical story I have heard today.

Karen McQ. said...

Funny but mortifying, Lauren.

The bright spot in the whole thing was that the surgery was successful in eliminating her epileptic seizures. (And her hair did look cute.)

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

I'm glad she's OK, Karen. I did - perhaps over-optimistically! - assume you'd have never posted the story in the first place if it had ended tragically.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Rachael wins the random drawing! But thank you so much, everyone, for playing! I loved hearing all your stories and only hope you had as good a time as I did. Oh, and I hope people continue to leave their stories. Cheers!

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