The boy with the black glasses

I have to give a heartfelt shout out to the organizers of the Central PA Gluten Free Expo. Sunday’s event was phenomenal. They just keep getting better. I enjoyed talking with everyone who stopped by my table and am grateful to all who purchased a book, especially to the family who bought one, then returned moments later to buy another! To the mother who told me to “write something good” for her daughter since the book was a Christmas present and who then made her daughter read the inscription out loud (I hope it was good!)–thank you for encouraging me to participate again next year. I don’t think people know how much this type of encouragement matters. Really, it makes all the difference.

I learned so much and ate so much and talked so much that I nearly lost my voice. But the best moment came late in the day. I had noticed a boy, whose age I would guess to be in the pre-teen range, hovering in front of my table several times throughout the day. He wore thick black glasses, and the first time he passed by with his family, he stopped to stare at the poster of my book cover for some time before saying, “How can sled dogs get celiac disease?” I laughed and explained that it wasn’t them, it was me, and he smiled before moving on.

Every once in a while when I’d look up from the table or the conversation at hand, I’d see the boy, alone and just beyond comfortable chatting range, looking at the books and signs at my table. He didn’t engage in conversation, or even make eye contact. In my standard, frazzled expo mode, I didn’t think too deeply about it.

Toward the end of the day, I was standing with my dad in front of the Tito’s vodka stand, talking with an acquaintance, when a woman approached me with two children and said they had won my “Escape into a book” gift basket, which included a copy of Mush. She seemed quite excited and asked if I’d mind signing the book.

“Of COURSE!” was my enthusiastic reply.

As I reached for the book, I glanced to her left, and there was the boy with the thick black glasses, standing next to this woman (who I assume was his mother) and wearing the widest grin I’d seen all day.

“It’s you!” I exclaimed as we made eye contact for the first time, and he nodded with what appeared to be glee. Now my grin was as wide as his.

Had I not been in standard frazzled expo mode, I may have noticed much earlier that this boy was interested in my book but that he was too shy to express it. What I should have done, had I the wherewithal to notice, is handed him a copy long before.

Instead, after finding out that they had won, the family stopped by my vendor table to pick up their prize. My friend Kimberly, who was kind enough to help me at the table that day, did have the wherewithal required for the situation. She handed over the gift basket, along with one of my Sharpie pens, and promptly pointed the family in my direction across the cavernous room. So, I ended up inscribing that copy of Mush (there at the Tito’s vodka stand) to the boy who clearly wanted it, even though I had failed all day to recognize the cues.

Thankfully, the universe has a way of stepping in to connect the dots that need to be connected in situations such as this. As if the expo wasn’t fulfilling enough, that really made my day.

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