I was browsing some books in National Book Store. Then, I saw a book attached with a piece of paper. It said, “Nicholas Sparks live in Manila.” I fixed my eyeglasses. I read it with caps lock and a number of exclamation points on my head. “It can’t be. How come I haven’t heard it on the news?”
The following day, I tried to find news about Sparks’ visit in Manila in the internet. But the most visible news source in Google was Yahoo News, published last August. The next on the search engine rank was a personal blog which talked about Sparks’ visit in Manila, along with the mechanics. I cast my doubts when I checked National book store website and Facebook fan page.
I went to the nearest mall to buy Sparks’ book. I needed to buy his book with a lucky draw coupon for the book signing pass but I did not find any. I was pissed off when I was trying to inquire with the lady on the customer service. She had no idea what the book signing event was all about. I was controlling my tongue from saying, “Can I talk to your manager?” After calling another personnel on the phone, she handed me the lucky draw coupon.
The day came, October 28. I prepared my flat shoes because it would be easy for me to run and to endure a long time standing. I prepared a sticky fan note. I prayed to God that He would grant me a book signing pass and thanked God that my work shift would end at 1pm. I would have enough time to travel. I was determined to go all by myself. I had no friend who was interested enough nor who would be willing to be absent on work. I rushed to the train station. To my dismay, there was a long line of passengers in the ticketing booth.
Fast forward. I presented my lucky draw coupon to the staff of the event. I was mentally making Plan B, in case I did not get the winning stub, that was to ambush Sparks for an autograph. I rejoiced as I picked the magic word ‘Yes’ which meant I had a signing pass. I got number 639. I spent five hours in Podium waiting for Sparks to come in and to sign my book.
More than 1,000 fans occupied the mall. I was with rich young girls who spoke Konyo English. I sat with a boy wearing nerdy glasses. I saw women of different ages writing a letter. I saw a mother with her two daughters falling in line. I saw an eighty-year-old woman in wheel chair. I think she was number 900th plus on the line. Then, I found out she was featured on Philippine Star.
I was supposed to eat lunch but I couldn’t. I was so excited. Besides, I did not want to look messy.
When the international writer came, the crowd went rowdy. When he was on stage, I could not see him. (Blame it on my height.) I raised my hands, cheered as the crowd became wild. Sparks gave a few words before he signed our books. He talked a little about his books. His favorite book was A Walk to Remember because it was easy to write. He got his inspiration from his sister who died with tumor. The Notebook was based on the love story of his wife’s parents.
He is married for 22 years. He has five children. Trivia: If you go to North Carolina, there is Nicholas Sparks Tour. He and his family lives in North Carolina. The tour will bring you places he used as setting in his novels.
Fast forward. My stomach grumbled. My feet ached. Finally, it was my turn. I have to commend the organizers of the event. It was very smooth which meant the security was strict. Before the event, I wrote a short fan note. I spent the entire morning in the office choosing the right words and checking my grammar. When I was on the mall, I decided to rephrased my five-sentence note. I sent a text message to my journalist friend if this was grammatically correct, “I may not have read your book.”
Based on the rules, we should give the book to the staff then the staff would let Sparks signed the book. Then, we could have a picture with him. This helped save time. When I was about to give my book, the security men said, my sticky note was not allowed.
Then, I met Nicholas Sparks! While I walking towards the table, I flashed my million dollar smile.
“Good to see you,” he said. My heart grew wings. He sounded warm and fatherly. I’m not sure if I did shake hands with him or I’m just dreaming that he did.