Latest Herald Column By SCOTT SAALMAN
Brynne called to tell me that my book, “Nose Hairs Gone Wild,” arrived from Amazon.
“You downloaded it?”
“No, it’s a real book.”
“That’s impossible,” I said.
“I have it.”
What part of “that’s impossible” did Brynne not understand? I explained, “There are no hard copies in existence that Amazon could’ve possibly sent you.”
“Well I have one at my house now.”
In 2012, I self-published my first collection of humor essays, “Nose Hairs Gone Wild.” I don’t mean to brag, but it sold out — all 200 copies! — two printings! Contrary to what you are probably imagining, I’m not writing this column aboard my yacht, comparing notes with my yacht guest John Grisham. Not even from my dinghy (I assume it’s OK to use this word in a family newspaper). Not even from my kayak (can’t afford one of those either), though my book sales have pushed me closer to buying that starter oar.
There was no way Brynne could’ve received a hard copy. First, Amazon would have had to order it from me. Second, there was no copy to provide.
A download was possible, though. “Nose Hairs” exists as an e-book, currently ranking #2,826,385 on Amazon’s best sellers list. I don’t know if there is a #2,826,386. I hope there is—for my ego’s sake. If so, it likely has some inane title like “Ear Hairs Gone Wild.” Talk about a terrible title.
“Seriously,” Brynne said. “It’s even a signed copy.”
“A what? A signed copy?”
Now, I was really confused. While 200 copies is an incredible amount of books to sell, I can pretty well recall all the names of my book buyers. I know for certain that I never signed a book for anyone named Brynne.
“Not Brynne. You signed the book I have for a Bob.”
A Bob book for Brynne. I didn’t like where this was headed. I’m no Sherlock Holmes but maybe, just maybe, Brynne’s mysterious copy of “Nose Hairs Gone Wild” had been pre-owned. By. Someone. NAMED. BOB!
I tried to remember the Bobs who bought my book way back. Ego aside, I felt sorry for this Bob guy. Apparently times had been so tough on him that he had to resell my book on Amazon just to get by. By then, he probably had eaten his dog before finally having to let go of his cherished, signed Scott Saalman book.
“My buddy Bob” — that’s probably how I signed it. And I likely meant it, for I recall truly appreciating the $15 anyone paid to purchase it — I had a yacht to buy.
My buddy Bob.
The only potential Bob I could come up with was a former coworker, Bob Schneider. I’m pretty sure he bought “Nose Hairs.” But since then, he became a CEO so I don’t think he has been hurting bad enough to pawn my book.
“I’ll text a photo to you,” Brynne said.
Sure enough. Her picture showed a page inscribed with the following: “Thanks, Bob, for running my Swing Shift Kiss piece on your show! Cheers — Scott Saalman (2013)”
My heart sank.
Bob. As in Bob Edwards. As in Bob Edwards of National Public Radio fame. Bob hosted Morning Edition for 24 years before losing the job. He then joined Sirius/XM satellite radio for his own show, furthering his reputation as one of the top radio journalists/interviewers out there.
Bob was a huge hero of mine. A man of integrity and truth. He received almost every broadcasting award imaginable. He’s the reason I kept re-upping my annual subscription to Sirius/XM.
The greatest moment of my writing career occurred when Bob ran one of my essays on his satellite show. The piece had been published in an anthology called “This I Believe: On Love.” The story was about my parents’ amazing long-term relationship. My voice, the story of my parents, was beamed to potentially millions of listeners. In appreciation, I sent Bob a signed copy of Nose Hairs (not that he asked) at no charge (not that he would’ve paid). Hence, the heartfelt inscription in Brynne’s new used book of mine.
I bet Bob figured the odds were greatly in his favor that I would never know about his betrayal.
It hurt a bit, this betrayal by a hero. I think it stung even worse than had Brynne’s book actually contained an inscription to my mother. Mom never won a Peabody.
In 2015, Bob’s satellite show was not renewed. Since then, other than reading a recent memoir of his (a library copy), I haven’t heard anything about Bob.
What about Bob? Google searches failed to show any current activity, putting this whole Brynne/Bob book thing in a much clearer perspective.
Obviously, out of sheer desperation, Bob had to get what he could out of my book. I hope its “resell” value helped Bob get by another day. I truly hope he didn’t really have to eat his dog.
In hindsight now, I feel bad borrowing his book from the library. Maybe I should go ahead and buy it from Amazon, give Bob a boost, bring this whole thing full circle. It’s the least I can do for my hero. I wonder if he would sign it.
Will Read and Sing for Food will benefit Strings, Inc. at 7 p.m., on Wednesday, June 14, at Hedinger Beverage Distributing, 950 S. St. Charles Street. $10 admission. Free beverages.