I wrote this in a spiral notebook on August 4th, when I just arrived at the Hyatt.

Aug. 4th:

One of the coolest things I learned about my coming to the SCBWI conference was the fact that my signing session, tomorrow (Friday evening) was the same where Henry Winkler aka ‘The Fonz’ would also be signing.

I know I’m dating myself. It’s ridiculous that it should mean anything at all, and yet growing up when I did, when I was SO bullied and made fun of, I used to watch Happy Days and see ‘The Fonz’ just so I’d understand what the kids at school were always talking about. And in watching it, I too succumbed to his charm and was impressed with how ‘cool’ he was.

It was a fact that all my bullies regarded The Fonz as the epitome of cool (I’m paraphrasing–they didn’t know words like epitome!). And now 36 years later, it’s me, not them, who would be in the same company!

So I checked in the Hyatt Regency and then went for lunch.

I was alone, and I hate eating alone. Kept scanning the restaurant for anyone who looked like Henry Winkler.

(He’s part of the faculty for the conference and I wondered if he’d be at the faculty party tonight.)

Instead I saw all these people sitting with friends, and then there was me, asking for a table for ‘one’.

I got the end of one of those long benches, with a table in front of it. It’s always awkward getting into that space.

And as I was struggling with my super fresh sushi, trying to dunk it in the mixture of wasabi, ginger and soy sauce, without it falling apart–who should walk in, also alone, and sit in the edge of the bench, across from me!

At first I wasn’t sure it was him.

I knew he must be old. 36 years ago, he must have been in his thirties for goodness sakes! But stars never age after the film is set, but in reality time marches on and with it the ravages of that time.

Across the middle space between us, our eyes met. And yup, it was definitely him.

A smaller, wizened figure with a bit of a comb over. Yup, Fonzie was bald. (Nothing wrong with that–but it was surprising.)

I dreamed of going across and asking if he’d like company–but I couldn’t do it. It would be too much of an imposition.

I didn’t even go over to ask him for his autograph. It just felt wrong.

I stopped staring at him and let him enjoy his meal in peace and the worst thing was I felt underdressed!

And although I finally understand the idea of buying a book by a celebrity just to get their autograph, I didn’t buy his book because I didn’t know if fundamentally it was any good.

Books are too important to me to be autograph tools.

As for the feeling of being underdressed–I wore my royal blue mirror suit on the Sunday I was to receive the Golden Kite. It’s one of my nicest suits and I wore it in Italy and for the Charlotte Zolotow award as well.

In Italy, when the people at the reception desk were handing it over after it had gone out for ironing, they said, “Bella! Bella!” And at the conference, I was walking down a corridor and this lady coming towards me stopped and said, “That’s beautiful!”

“Thank you!” I said.

And on the bus over to the wrap up party at Lin Oliver’s house, someone said that the vividness of that blue had been stunning!

I told her that I’d decided to wear it because it was a primary colour,  that complimented the primary colours red and yellow on the cover of BIG RED LOLLIPOP! The lady said, “Really? You planned that?”

I just laughed and said no, I was just fooling with her.

I wore it because it’s one of the nicest suits I own, that’s all.

On the last day I took an intensive with Jan Constantine, a lawyer with the Author’s guild. It was a very valuable session! All about contract negotiation. This was the day after I’d given my acceptance speech for the Golden Kite and Jan and the six other women taking the intensive, cheered for me and my award when I walked in. Then Jan said that she loved my outfits, said that I was ‘put together’ so well! And every day she would look to see what I was wearing.

Talk about making me blush!

Tomorrow I’ll talk about the things I learned and how the Golden Kite award went!