It was not my intent to piss off Margaret Atwood.
The opposite, in fact. I wanted her to know she was an inspiration.
She was giving a reading at the University of New Brunswick in my student days. I attended, but there was quite the gathering and she was whisked away at the end. However, I overheard there was a ‘gathering’ in her honour. Invitation only, of course. Academia and literati.
I crashed the party (that was the term used by the professor who clapped his sturdy hand upon my shoulder but – happily – did not thrust me into the night).
But Ms. Atwood was kept deep in many a learned conversation and I had no opportunity to converse. I did, however, overhear where she would be spending next afternoon – the historic University Observatory.
Next day I knocked upon the Observatory door.
It was not a cheerful Margaret Atwood who answered, and answered with alacrity.
She asked my name.
She asked my business.
And she asked how the hell I knew where she was. She had stolen the day to do some writing. Some ‘real’ writing, in this window-of-opportunity grudgingly offered on the book tour.
At least I was there to praise Atwood and not to bury her with some essay question.
Nor had I a manuscript to hand to her.
I might not have garnered a smile, but her curt thank you was reward enough.
For me, at least.