There is an interesting discussion about fame in the writing world going on over at the new blog site, Contemporary Nomad (and thanks to the ever-excellent Sarah Weinman at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind for bringing the site to my attention.)

I’e2’80’99m comfortable with my own mild level of fame. I get recognized at conventions, but because I don’e2’80’99t encourage the local paper to do pieces on me, I can go to the nearby mall or grocery store without a lot of nudges and looks (although I do make sure that I’e2’80’99m wearing clean clothes and have my hair under control before I venture any further than the local small grocers.) And it’e2’80’99s gratifying to be able to go into any bookstore, even the chains that are staffed by fourteen year-olds, and generally get no further than, ‘e2’80’9cMy name is Laurie King and I’e2’80’99m a writer’e2’80’94’e2’80’9c before the person behind the counter begins nodding with enthusiasm, or at least recognition, and says, ‘e2’80’9cOf course, I know your books, how can I help you?’e2’80’9d

There are, however, drawbacks, even to mild levels of fame. As mentioned, I need to check my shirt before I get into the car, to make sure there aren’e2’80’99t too many splotches of tomato sauce from cooking last night’e2’80’99s dinner (the shirt having been recycled because I’e2’80’99m in the middle of a book and forgot to put the laundry into the dryer, so the shirts there have taken on that rich mildew smell that means another round through the Hot cycle.) And when some idiot cuts me off while I’e2’80’99m driving, I keep my upraised finger below the level of the windows and mutter my curses instead of shouting them.

Basically, my level of fame has a civilizing effect, encouraging me to behave in the way I should anyway.

And then there are the other times, when you would really rather be invisible, and feel like you’e2’80’99ve just encountered an ex-boyfriend when you were at your worst possible moment, surrounded with hysterical and filthy children, in frumpy clothes and hair unwashed for five days.

I was at my gut doctor’e2’80’99s a couple of months ago, part of a cycle of trying to find out what a problem was that over the course of the year had me trooping through the offices of the ENT, an endocrinologist, an internal medical doctor (rather begging the question, aren’e2’80’99t they all internal medicine doctors?), and eventually this gastroenterologist, who thought I might have acid reflux from a pill prescribed by one of the other doctors for a condition that didn’e2’80’99t actually exist but might have, so try this and oops, yes, severe thrush in the mouth and throat and a year’e2’80’99s worth of gut problems might indeed be a side effect’e2’80’a6

‘e2’80’a6but I digress. The gut lady, or gastroenterologist, finished with her various exams, handed me yet another prescription, and then launched into what was clearly a well-rehearsed spiel on the absolute necessity of a colonoscopy for everyone over the age of fifty, regardless of family history, the considerable discomfort it entails, and the devastating lack of dignity in any procedure involving lying with your butt in the air while a team of people in white coats sticks instruments inside. I returned her volley with some pointed questions about hazards, benefits, and alternatives, since I’e2’80’99d been through this with my general doctor not very long before, and she hunkered down against her clipboard, searching for the convincing argument.

Then her face brightened, and she stepped up again with what she clearly thought would be the clincher:

‘e2’80’9cAnd besides, all the women down in X-Ray are real fans of yours.’e2’80’9d

And in case you’re wondering? No, I haven’t made that appointment yet.

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  1. Anonymous on December 9, 2005 at 2:16 pm

    What a HOOT! The image of fans all circled around–not one you want to be remembered by, I am sure. And I have not been convinced to go thru this procedure either–and I’m 55!
    Fame is also relative. As a teacher, I’ve had 1000s of students in classes. My husband was in the hospital for some serious surgery when a nurse asked if I was his wife. He hesitated a few seconds and the nurse said “Oh she was a great teacher!” He was hoping she held no grudges!

  2. Anonymous on December 9, 2005 at 3:07 pm

    True, a colonoscopy is not particularly fun. But it can be life-saving. Also, 1. you are asleep during the test (so you are oblivious to anyone who might be watching); and 2. if you don’t have to do the full prep beforehand, it’s not so bad. In fact, I found the actual test itself painless. The prep caused me the most inconvenience.

    Since you are having issues that beg definition and consideration, I would urge you to reconsider having the test done. It’s only one day’s worth of inconvenience versus the past year of discomfort and misdiagnoses …

  3. KB on December 9, 2005 at 5:29 pm

    I, too, dreaded this test, even though I’m religious about having a mammogram every year. But, a year ago it became a necessity, so I grudgingly made the appointment and was thrilled to find out you under some sort of “twilight sleep” and don’t necessarily have your back end in the air anyway (I was left on my side on the bed). It was painless and the embarassment factor was zilch…….what you’re not awake for can’t hurt you, maybe! Laurie, do it. Besides it only has to be done every 10 years, so get it over with!

  4. Rebecca on December 9, 2005 at 5:30 pm

    Wow, I really needed a laugh today (woke up this morning with a nasty head cold) and this was it. Thank you!

    I love reading your blog because it gives others (particularly aspiring writers) a look at what the business of writing and the life of a professional writer is actually like. Keep it up!

  5. Anonymous on December 9, 2005 at 6:15 pm

    My husband refers to that one as the “Rear Admiral”–and we’re ducking it too. (Me 57, him 65) Back when we still lived in PA, everyone we talked to who had given in to the blandishments of their doctors came back outraged. “They said it wouldn’t be painful–and they LIED! It was AGONY!” They weren’t given any of that twilight sleep business. Maybe the docs are more civilized here in California but we are not willing to rely on that. Just call us chicken. And your writing is so excellent already that I see no need for you to endure any unnecessary suffering. Your art clearly does not require it.

  6. Katy on December 9, 2005 at 7:08 pm

    That is such a good reason to go have your bum examined….
    My parents have gotten to that time of their lives as well, and they actually got into a competition. My mother went in and was told she was pristine, or something to that effect, and so then my father had to go in so he could try to one-up her result. Silly, I know.

  7. dave lamson on December 9, 2005 at 7:42 pm

    I too hated the idea, but at 65 and having to go 5 to 6 days between bowl movements I knew something was wrong!
    I drank the gallon of laxitive then set on the stool all night. checked in for the test at 6:00 A.M. and at
    9:00 A.M. woke to hear they found a big growth in my colon and yes it was “CANCER”! A week later, 12″ of my colon was removed along with “ALL THE CANCER”. I thank GOD my wife made me take the test! For breathing is the best thing I do!

  8. Anonymous on December 10, 2005 at 2:41 am

    Ms. king have you ever known anyone to die from Colon cancer, it is not a way to go. They have pills know you can take to help flush your colon, instead of having to drink all that medicince.

  9. WDI on December 10, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    What a, um, novel argument 🙂 I, too, would urge you to go through with it (yes, the colon cancer argument). It’s not pleasant, but it can be life-saving. And not just for you — if the docs find something suspicious in your gut, it may be a sign that your sibs need to be on alert as well.

    I’m also a teacher who has instructed thousands of students. When I went into the hospital for a laparoscopy many years ago, my nurse was a former student. Fortunately, that was when my classes were small and I recognized her immediately as one of the “A” students!

    Now I teach really large classes and can’t hope to know even faces. It’s disconcerting indeed to walk out of the gym after a hard workout and have a handful of cheerleaders and ball players calling out cheerful greetings . . .

  10. bani on December 10, 2005 at 5:26 pm

    Oh my God, I’m in stitches here!!! So they’re all big fans? Well, get thee down and flaunt thy backside, Ms King. But (pun intended) of course.

  11. Anonymous on January 1, 2006 at 10:59 pm

    The procedure possibly saved my life as they found two benign polyps and removed them. As it was all done under a short-acting general anesthetic, I didn’t feel or remember a thing. Yes, the preparation takes a day (don’t plan on getting more than ten feet from your bathroom) but you can take a notepad and write….. If your doctor doesn’t offer general anesthetic, I’ll give you the name of my gastroenterologist in Ohio who does.
    Have courage and do it.
    Regards, ~Wee bit of a bee

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