I grew up with very bad dad jokes, and they have definitely rubbed off on me. So yesterday I told what I thought was an innocent but bad one to Lathea. It turned out slightly better than anticipated, or worse, depending on who of us you ask.
This is the background: my tour ends on May 24th in Denver. That is the last event. Then I am staying a night at the hotel in Denver, booked by my publisher, and on Saturday 28th my publisher have booked my last flight to Portland, Oregon, where I will stay on for a bit to do some reasearch. That leaves three nights in Denver. My plan was to just find an hotel, read, rest, so that when I get to Oregon I’m in good shape for some work. As for hotel-bookings, I always book them at the last possibly minute. It limits the available options, hence making decisions easier.
However, I had forgotten that in my publisher’s system, and Lathea’s schedule, there suddenly appeared three un-booked, mysterously empty nights in Denver, when they didn’t know where their confused Swedish author would be.
“Have you booked an hotel yet?” asked Lathea, some days ago, possibly a full two weeks before they would be needed.
“Duh, no”, said I. Two weeks! Really.
Then I realized that this was not only about me. “This is making you nervous, isn’t it?” I asked her sympathetically.
“A little bit, yes”, Lathea lied, while freaking out internally.
“I’ll book the hotel. Don’t worry. I’ll get right to it. And if nothing else I can always sleep at the train station.”
“Not funny, Katarina”, said Lathea, which should have kept me from making my next joke, but didn’t.
So I booked the hotel. I like Lathea. She’s taking a rare week off next week, and I didn’t want it to be ruined by worry over her Swedish author sleeping on train stations.
“So I booked an hotel”, I told her yesterday. “I sent you an email about it, but didn’t forward the actual confirmation.”
She looked at me. “Then how will I know you’ve actually booked an hotel?”
That’s her level of organizastion, and how much she trust me. I just couldn’t resist.
“Relax”, I said. “I’ve booked it. The nights were between the 21st and 26th, right?”
See. A typical dad joke. Bad. Obvious. Warranting only the weakest of laughter.
Except Lathea wasn’t laughing. This in itself is not surprising when it comes to dad jokes, but Lathea is polite and professional. She always laughs at my jokes. She’s might be paid extra to do it. So I glanced at her just in time to see a series of horrified emotions flitting across her face. I could see her thoughts as she had them, all mixed up, each worse than the previous. They went something like this:
– I’m a professional. I can think of a diplomatic way to tell my author that she’s an idiot
– Oh my God, I can’t believe she can’t even make a hotel reservation
– Oh wait. Yes, I can
– It’s more than a week from now, we can change the reservation
– It’s probably easier if I just do it myself. I’ll print her a new damn schedule, and just do all the bookings…
– Oh good God, before I leave for my vacation. But that’s all right, I don’t have to sleep
– She’ll still call me in the middle of the night during my vacation from the bench of a trainstation, won’t she?
– She’s an idiot
- Lathea, you’re a professional, you can’t say that
By this time I was of course stroking her arm, telling her: “there, there, it was only a joke. I’m sorry, I’m sorry” so the thought process gave way for a laughter that was part hysterical and part relief.
“You got me there”, she said, five minutes afterwards, still laughing shakily.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry”, I said.
I guess my bad dad joke hit slightly closer to the truth than I had imagined. I forgot that: a, she’s worked with authors for a long time and b, by this time she knows me.
“I’m suffering from PLASD”, she said. “Post Lost Author Stress Syndrome.”
“There, there”, I said. “There’s always therapy.”