There is a waiting list for a table for two. We prefer to sit at the bar and chat with the bartenders anyway, so we belly up to the almost-full bar and sit in the middle. Kristy’s beautiful rainbow-colored dreadlocks attract a lot of attention. People often gravitate toward us and want to know our story; this bar is no different.
Soon after we have beers in front of us, two gentlemen across the bar—Michael and Bello—compliment Kristy’s unique hair. They are very friendly, and both have magnificent smiles. They ask where we hail from and what we are up to in Sin City. We begin to tell them about our road trip, speaking loudly across the bar, and the servers and bartenders glance over in our direction, listening.
“Yeah, it’s a crazy and fun idea. Our smartphones are turned off, and we’re relying on paper maps to navigate five states and one foreign country. It’s a break from smart technology, mainly social media. We’re only allowed to text our mothers every few days and check my business email once in the morning.”
One of the bartenders walks over and puts her elbows on the bar. She has a dazed look in her eye. She almost chokes, “You’re doing what?” She introduces herself as Laura, and wants to know all about it.
“How is it going so far? I would love to do something like that. Kudos to you both. What a great idea! That is awesome!” rapid fire from Laura.
Britteny, another bartender, hears Laura and asks, “What’s she talking about? What are you guys up to?”
I feel like we’re on a journey to find a buried treasure. There is curiosity from every direction—a buzz in the air. Excitement! People crowd in around us, asking for details. Michael is now standing behind us, peppering us with questions. We’re a little embarrassed, aware that our crazy social experiment was possibly more of a whim than a major commitment; but we’re a little proud, too.
Michael, Bello, and Britteny want to hang out with us later that evening and we make plans to meet. We exchange numbers (we write theirs on paper napkins, calculating that, if we have to text or call them as a last resort, we can fit contacting them into our 95% unplugged requirement). I have a couple of books on me as always—this time I’ve put them in a plastic bag to take to the pool—and I shamelessly put a few copies out on the bar for all to see. I end up gifting a copy each to Michael and Britteny. They are stoked to have a book signed from an author at a bar.
The day bartender, Laura, is finishing up her shift and says goodbye to us. I watch her leave. I am not attracted to her, although she is beautiful; but she still draws my attention. She reaches the doorway—one arm in her jacket and the other still grasping for the other sleeve—turns around, and walks back over to us at the bar.
“I have to tell you guys, you really had an impact on my point of view. You changed my perspective today, and I wanted to thank you.”
Goosebumps. We didn’t expect our experiment to have any kind of impact on other people; neither of us realized our fun idea could actually touch and inspire others. How crazy that only a decade after they debuted on the popular market a sixteen-day break from smartphones is seen as so meaningful! More light bulbs: I’m thinking big again. Maybe one day, this book will move millions of people to slow down, unplug and enjoy each other more!
The rest of the afternoon, we play in the pool (finally), gamble, shower, and dress up.
We’re excited; it’s early evening and time to go see esteemed and funny author, David Sedaris. We bought our tickets two months ago, and now we’re headed to the Smith Center for Performing Arts. Showtime is 7:30 p.m., but we’ve arrived early, as I like to do. Can you believe there is a bar in the lobby? Shocking, right?
While we’re in line for cocktails, a woman compliments Kristy’s hair, and we strike up a conversation. She tells us we can buy one of David’s books at the merchandise table, just twenty feet away, and ask him to sign it. We look over. He’s sitting at a desk with a line of eager fans queuing up to get his autograph.
It doesn’t take long for me to select my next David Sedaris book and hop into his autograph line. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary seems like a great choice. (This book will soon come into play in other ways on our unplugged journey. Stay tuned!)
It is getting close to showtime. The usher keeps looking at her watch and gauging how long the line is, to determine whether the author will have enough time for everyone before he must prepare for his show. She walks over to me, and I half expect her to say, “Sorry, but he won’t have enough time for you.”
Instead, she tells me I will be the last one to see him before the show. He does sign books after the show as well, but I am in go mode and happy to be the last in line.
“Hello David, I’m Johnny, and this is my girlfriend, Kristy.”
He is so friendly and seems genuinely pleased to meet us. I quickly tell him how his writing, style, and delivery have influenced me. I tell him about my book and thank him for inspiring me. With much respect and all my manners, I ask if he would like a copy.
“I know you must get a lot of gifts, and I don’t want to burden you with another. But...I happen to have a couple of copies on me, and if you would like one, I’d be honored,” I say.
“I’d love a copy, but you have to sign it for me.”
I can’t believe it. One of my favorite authors is asking me to sign my book for him! I hope he can read what I signed because I’m trembling a little bit from the thrill.
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