Two women approached me as I sit at my table for a book signing. The first; a tall elderly woman with streaks of gray in her hair, appeared to be a woman of means and culture, well-read and well-bred. By her rigid shoulders and the slight tremble in her upper lip, I knew she had something to say.
“That book,” she said, pointing at Stranger in the White House, “is an attack on our president.”
I started to give her my pat answer . . . yes, people say; ‘don’t you be talkin’ ‘bout my president, or we got one of those.’ But for some reason I didn’t. Rather, I smiled and said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
She straightened her shoulders. The lines around her mouth deepening as she continued. “No, it’s an attack on my president.”
As a guest author, I knew getting into an argument over politics would probably get me thrown out, so I smiled at the shaken women. “That book has more wrinkles in it than a hound dog. It will take you to Mogadishu, Ramstein Air Force Base and back to the Vice President’s house,” which is part of my hook . . . It didn’t work. The fire in her eyes told me it would be useless to try to convince her otherwise. Her mind was made up.
With a huff, she tossed the push card down on the table. “That book is nothing but right-wing trash.”
As she turned to leave, I repeated the advice, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
She held her position for a moment. I couldn’t tell if she wanted to pick something up and toss it at me, or if I’d pierced her tough exterior. Then she was gone, leaving me with the question, Whatever happened to tolerance?
I didn’t have long to ponder the question, as the next woman squeezed in behind her. She had a stack of books in her hands and bore a pleasant smile. “I saw the ad in the paper that you were going to be here for a signing and I wanted you to sign these,” she said as she handed me the collection of The Stranger Series.
I was delighted to do so, and while I personalized each book, she pummeled me with intuitive questions and stroked my ego with lavished praise. Needless to say, the former conversation was a side-bar compared to the spirit-lifting comments of this new-found-friend.
After forty-five minutes, she and her elderly parents who’d accompanied her, left. But a moment later, the mother returned. Her face beamed, but there was a deep sadness in her eyes and she spoke in a hushed tone.
“Eleven years ago, my daughter suffered a severe stroke leaving her blind in one eye and nearly blind in the other. We were devastated. But you know, when she finally regained consciousness, she said, ’Mother, I praise God for the sight I do have.’ Before her stroke, she was a contract negotiator for the Defense Department, but now, she is nearly blind, she can’t drive and is reduced to living in a wheel-chair. But she loves God and loves to read, and I know she will enjoy your next book.”
There were two women; one with two eyes, but couldn’t see, the other nearly blind, yet with deep insight, saw beyond the cover. Which one are you?