Doctah Thompson, He Signing Books

Page added: 1997
Last updated: 2002

Update: This article refers to The Proud Highway, the first volume of letters

By Elvis McDouglas

Well, I met the good doctor yesterday evening at a book signing -- looked him in the eyes and got a firm handshake. I was second in line, the first was this freak who heads every line at Tattered Cover signings.

Hunter Thompson scheduled four signings to promote his new book, The Proud Highway. New York, Washington, Los Angles and Denver. The Denver signing took place at the Tattered Cover lower downtown location in the events room off the second floor; the line spanned down to the first floor and out the front door.

It all started around 11:45 a.m. as I was sitting in a hip black leather chair reading Lie Down in Darkness by William Styron when a cute girl shelving books, that I'd been talking to, pointed out the famous Tattered Cover book signing fanatic and informed me that the line will start with him. He looked to be hovering at six feet and 300 lbs., unshaven, unshowered, wearing an unwashed yellow t-shirt with chocolate pudding stains and shorts guaranteed to smell like rotten cantelope in the crouch. He had uncombed long black hair and was wearing thick RUN DMC gold-framed tinted glasses -- the temple pieces were constructed with fat block letters. He was such an unpleasant site that I couldn't look at him long enough to make out what the temple pieces of his glasses said. His breathing was loud, he waddled even when standing and had an earring in each ear. (He usually arrives five to eight hours early for these events.) So I thanked the shelving girl (wanting her) and proceeded up the events room walkway in pursuit of this obese, gay booksigning fanatic.

I sat next to this guy (John Txxxxx; xxx-xxxx)[deleted for various reasons] from 12:30 a.m. to seven thirty p.m., watching him inhale (he literally drank) two meals. The first meal was consumed at 12:30; he called it breakfast: deli sandwich with finger-spread mayo (deep-throating entire finger, savoring every bit of the mayo), bag of chips, slice of cheesecake and a frappuccino.

John's nature is to be friendly to everyone; he starves for conversation; he'd sit and stare at me until I'd say "What?," just so he could fall back into his ramblings about various subjects: homosexuality, paganism, homosexual paganism, his favorite authors (mostly women), how he will act when he's signing his books (got a chuckle from that one) and so on. John was there more for his signed-book collection than to meet the good doctor (it was his 420th book signing; his first was back in 1984).

The second meal was delivered at six o'clock: a cheeseburger and fries from Wynkoop, compliments of a young couple trying to bribe their way into line. They sat down at the front of the line with John and began a painful conversation as he mealed. The couple normally wouldn't give John the time of day; they were there strictly to use him. Since John and I had shared in conversation for nearly five and a half hours, he naturally included me in their conversation as he devoured his free meal. I didn't say much, but every once and a while he would consult me for a fact about Hunter.

This couple sucked; they pissed off everyone who had been waiting. The guy was a total dick, but the girl was halfway decent. Throughout their conversation, as she would speak, I'd catch eye contact with her; she had a pretty face. I noticed her right leg from the knee down was deformed and that she walked with a limp.

She blew it for them at the moment of truth: when they announced for everyone to stand up to receive line numbers, they fell into line behind John, knocking me back to third; after John took his line-number ticket, the girl hesitated, turned and looked at me: "You were here first, weren't you?" -- Damn straight!

By getting her to acknowledge me, by looking into her eyes each time she spoke, her conscience had crept up on her. The rest of the line followed suit, refusing to let them in. I didn't realize how much attention the couple had attracted until later that evening when a woman who was further back in line congratulated me for the way I'd handled the degenerates.

I don't think what the couple tried to do was wrong. I don't think a strategy is wrong all because it differs from mine. My vice was to get there early and wait; the couple's was to finagle their way in. Who's to say which is better in a world where function speaks for itself?

Anyway, Hunter was well behaved, acting as sober as possible. He was smoothly dressed in a sharp black dress coat over a red, silk-looking dress shirt that had a banded collar. He also had on the usual white Outdoor Research (confederate style) hat with lightly tinted aviation glasses. I noticed that he still had well defined, handsome cheekbones. After he removed his hat, he walked up to the desk they had set for him (an unopened bottle of Chivas Regal on it) and took a lanky swing with full follow through at the roll of paper towels, batting the roll directly into the face of the lady who was in charge of the scene. Holding her walkie-talkie and face in hand, she made a quick exit with an apologizing Hunter publicist in pursuit. Camera bulbs flashed; the doctor shrugged and sat down.

The whole scene was sort of hectic and happened so fast that before I knew it, I was on the street kicking myself; I felt like Ralphie from the Christmas Story. I had walked up to the man, and he was looking at me with this look that said -- You must have waited forever to be at the front of this line -- Whatta' you say? -- and I just told him it was nice to meet him.