I'm getting ready to go on the CBS "Morning Program" to promote my book, and I'm trying to cheer myself up.
"Well," I'm saying to myself, "at least they're putting me on before the llama."
The llama is part of a segment about trend-setting pets, which also includes a peacock, a mutant duck and two goats, one of whom is named Doodie-Head. I am not making this up. When they showed this particular goat on camera, they had its name superimposed on the screen, just the way they do with major newsmakers, only instead of "Henry Kissinger," it said: "Doodie-Head."
(Which, come to think of it, is also what they should put up there for Henry Kissinger.)
So anyway, I am telling myself that it is a good thing, a sign of my stature as a guest, that they are putting me on the show ahead of the llama, although I also must confront the fact that they are putting me on after the segment on dog fashions.
The guest for the dog fashion segment is a woman who designs designer outfits that you can put on your dog to make it look even stupider than it probably already does. Accompanying this woman are a number of outfit-wearing dogs, including a girl dog in a white wedding dress with a veil and a boy dog dressed up as a groom. The designer woman says, and she is quite serious, that it has become quite a trend to have formal weddings for dogs who are about to be mated. ("Okay," the clergyperson says to the groom at the end of the ceremony, "you may now sniff around the bride's private region.")
Now the dog fashion segment is winding down, and I'm getting ready to go on to promote my book, and I'm thinking, as no doubt thousands of authors have thought before me, about my blemish. Earlier on this book tour, in Cleveland or possibly Philadelphia, this blemish started developing smack dab on the end of my nose -- the absolute perfect place, when you're doing a lot of media appearances -- and I'm wondering if "The Morning Program" cohost, Mariette Hartley, will notice it.
"Our next guest," she might say, "is a person with a big zit on his nose."
Notthat it matters. CBS has canceled "The Morning Program" for lack of viewership, and probably the only people who will actually see my segment are the 25 members of the live studio audience. But I am not complaining, because 25 people is larger than the total viewership of the shows I'm usually on when I'm promoting a book. Usually I'm on extremely low-budget cable TV shows with names like "Focus on Talking."
You have probably caught glimpses of these shows while remote-controlling your way through the channels late at night. The characters are always the same: a Host, a Guest and a Plant. The three of you sit there and drone away for a half-hour, during which it often becomes apparent that the Plant knows more about your book than the Host does.
To make matters worse, on this particular book tour, I myself, the AUTHOR, have not personally read the actual book. Oh, sure, I WROTE it, but that was over a year ago, and large sections of it are only vague memories at this point. I fully intended to read it before I left on the tour, but the publisher forgot to send me a copy, so I have found myself in a number of embarrassing interview situations where I quite frankly did not know the answers to key questions:
Host: Dave, you have some very funny things to say in your book about compatibility.
Me: Yes, Bob, I'm sure I do.
Plant (nervously): Ha ha!
And to make matters worse still, in each city I have been to on this tour I have visited bookstores, and so far NOT A SINGLE ONE HAS HAD MY BOOK. I am starting to wonder if I ever even WROTE this book. Maybe I am the victim of an elaborate publishing-industry prank, wherein they somehow trick you into believing you wrote a book, then send you out to all these obscure cable TV stations, and just before you go on camera, Allen Funt tells the hidden smirking audience, "Our next guest is attempting to promote an imaginary book! Also, check out his nose zit!"
Not that I am complaining. No, I am happy to have a role, no matter how small, in the world of literature, where I can at least dream that some day I will become a bestselling author like Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose classic work "The Scarlet Letter" was -- this is the truth -- the No. 4 paperback in several of the cities I visited this week. The Cliff's Notes version.