A Cartoonish Prank Gone Awry, or, How I Came to Own a Danielle Steel Novel

Went to a bookstore yesterday to sign Pearls books.

I took a stack of books to the counter.  The clerks were busy with other customers.

So I did something I’ve never done before.  I started signing them without asking.

I didn’t have my ID on me, but I figured if someone did ask, I could always point to my photo on the cover of either “Pearls Sells Out” or “The Crass Menagerie.”

But no one asked.  The clerks didn’t care.  Even after they finished with their customers, they said nothing to me.  They just talked to each other.  That was bad.

Bad because it encouraged me.

Because halfway through the stack, I saw that one of the books I grabbed from the shelf was not a Pearls book.  It was a Calvin and Hobbes.

I looked up at the clerks.  They still weren’t paying attention to me.

So I signed the Calvin and Hobbes book.

Wasn’t sure how Watterson liked to sign his books, so I had to use my discretion.  I chose to make him touchy-feely.

“All my love, Bill Watterson,” I wrote.

I had to return to the humor section to get more Pearls books.  As I did, I paused.  What would stop me from signing any book I wanted to?

So as I laid the next stack of Pearls books on the counter, it included one additional book.

A novel by Danielle Steel.

I opened the front cover.  I looked up at the distracted clerks.

And took Sharpee to paper.  With gusto.

“I hope you enjoy this work half as much as I enjoyed writing it…A thousand kisses, Danielle Steel.”  I sketched a huge heart and a big smiley face.

The rush was overwhelming.

I had now signed a book by both a man and a woman.  Neither of whom were me.

But both were still living.  And that provided a bit of protection.  Because I told myself that if I was caught signing the Calvin and Hobbes book, I would claim to be Bill Watterson.  And I told myself that if I was caught signing the Danielle Steel book, I would say she was my aunt, and that she liked me to go around to bookstores doing this.

So I needed a new challenge.

Someone dead.

I grabbed a book by Edgar Allan Poe.

I took it to the counter.  I took out my pen.

I heard a voice.

“Can I help you?”

It was the once-distracted clerk.   He was now undistracted.  He was now staring down at what I had written in the Poe book.  So far it said, “Best Wishes…”

“Yes,” I said, thinking as fast as I could.  “I’d like to purchase this.”

“Is there a reason you’re writing in it?”

Good question, I thought.

“It’s a gift for my niece.  I like to inscribe the books I buy for her.”

To prove my point, I signed my name and added, “P.S.  Happy birthday!”

Fortunately for my alibi, I had not yet signed “All my love, Edgar Allan Poe.”

The clerk then noticed the stack of Pearls books.

“Are you buying these too?”

“No,” I said, “I’m the guy who does that comic strip.  So I signed the books.”

“Oh.  Okay,” he said, thoroughly unimpressed.  Fortunately for me, he didn’t notice the Watterson book sandwiched in between.

“So you just want the Poe book?”

“Yeah,” I said, happy to escape with just having to buy this one book.  Oblivious to the one mistake I had made.  The one mistake that the clerk was now staring at.

“And what about this Danielle Steel book?”

Panicked, I pressed my hand on the top of it, to keep him from opening the front cover.

And then I uttered a string of words I never thought I’d say about a Danielle Steel novel.

“I’d like to buy that too.”

47 thoughts on “A Cartoonish Prank Gone Awry, or, How I Came to Own a Danielle Steel Novel

  1. Since authors sometimes Google themselves (or use Google alerts), it’s only a matter of time before those authors find out what you did. I can just imagine them going to their nearest bookstore and signing your books.

  2. Open letter:

    I recant and apologize for abusing Calvin and Hobbes with my lying penmanship. There is no excuse for what I did other than self congratulatory ego masturbation.

    I’m going to write to Mr. Watterson and apologize for disgracing his wonderful art.

    -The Real Stephan Pastis

    p.s.
    I pick my nose at the stop lights and I apologize.

  3. Stephan, Stephan, Stephan…..

    Yo have so much to learn.

    The consummate practical joker would of went back and replaced the books on the shelves. Yes, you paid for them, but as someone who has spent terrible amounts of money for a cheap laugh (mostly my own and no one else’s), sometimes you have to make those sacrifices.

    As a penance, find a Don Asmussen book (if they still make them) and write “You suck and I hope you Die! Don” in it. For extra credit, get a copy of “The Republic” and write “Wishing you all the best, Plato”. Double points if you write it in Greek. Triple points if you make it in boustrophēdon.

    You *do* know how to do that, Mr. Pastis?

    Don’t you?

    Just this time don’t get caught.

  4. LOL what r u doing to me?! i should be working but here i am falling over with laughter because i wish my day was half as interesting as yours. Cheers Stephan you ARE the best ..bahahaha…

  5. I would love to have that Calvin and Hobbes book – mainly knowing it was falsely signed by you of course. That whole story is totally hilarious. Also, I may just start signing books, and I don’t even write them. I think you are a bad influence on me.

  6. Odd, I’ve read that Watterson used to go into the Fireside Bookshop in Chagrin Falls and sign copies of his book.
    Now that he’s in Cleveland, I like to imagine him driving over to Loganberry Books in a primer-covered 1972 Caprice, pulling the Greek fisherman’s cap down to his brow, drawing the lapels to his long, greying beard before he goes in to sign all the Pearls Before Swine books.

  7. As a completely unrelated aside, I used to work at the division of the publishing house that a lot of Danielle Steele’s novels are published through, and I saw her chew out a PR assistant for using a publicity photo that made her ass look big. So, no tears are shed for her book, here.

  8. you realize that you now have to go back and sign those 3 books AND not buy them. this is your mission. should you choose to not accept, this website will self destruct in 20seconds.

  9. While I was working at a bookstore some years ago, Maria Shriver stopped by to autograph whatever horrible children’s book she had recently published. I ID’ed her. She didn’t seem happy about it. That’s OK, though. I wasn’t happy that she’d written a book called “What’s Heaven,” and expected people to buy it.

  10. Admit it you just wanted that Danielle Steele book and you just couldn’t come up with a decent alibi. Poe was lofty but Shakespeare would have been true Brass.

  11. This was really ironic because I have been going to bookstores for years and signing your books. My favorite inscription is “Since you probably can’t read, please enjoy the pictures. Kisses, Stephan Pasties.”

  12. After reading your blog entries one thought strikes me: How valuable signed copies of your book will be after you’ve been killed by your wife, neighbors, other drivers, bookstore employees, or Danielle Steel.

  13. Is that the REAL Bill Watterson that just commented on your blog? If so, #1 – hilarious comment, #2 -pure awesomeness that he visits here, too.

    If not, still funny, but please don’t confuse me like that. My brain is too fragile from reading Pearls.

  14. I’m all for you signing other authors’ books. But why forge their names when you could write yours? I would TOTALLY buy a Danielle Steel novel (or any other novel) for that matter with a Stephan Pastis signature in it. That’s way better than the author’s signature anyway.

  15. Put ’em on eBay! I’m sure someone reading your blog will buy them! One of these days I hope to get a book signed by you. Only I think I’ll hold out for a Pearls collection…

  16. Alas, how ironic! I have just mistakenly bought a “Pearls” book signed by Bill Waterson. Someone needs to do something about this!

  17. Come on Stephan….

    You should have told the clerk that you also write the Danielle Steel novels, but under an assumed name! That would have been a very confused look for a while.

  18. I would love the Calvin & Hobbes book!! Please consider auctioning it off…

    On a side note, has Bil Keane ever signed your books for revenge? Or would you ever sign a Family Circus book?

  19. On the bright side, you have an *autographed* edition of a Danielle Steele novel.

    Next time, sign a Bible. “Sorry about my editors, hope you like the parts they left in! Love, God”

  20. Well Stephan your pratical joke’s have caught up to you, So when you curl up on the couch in jammy’s and slippers with a nice glass of Merlot and some quiche reading your Danielle Steele novel, Staci will know for sure you have gone over the edge into the murkey unknown and it will be time for outside help. LOL

  21. What are you going to do during Christmas? Steal the Santa Suit off the mall-Santa. Then stutter all the way through the conversation with the kids until there is a line going all the way to the door. Then when the pictures are taken, they’ll notice that Pastis is the real santa.

  22. I love how when you grabbed books by the living, the clerks took no notice, but grab a Poe book, and BAM! they’re on you like you just pinched gold from the national treasury! hahahahaha!

  23. You know, on general principles, I should object to your writing in books without permission. I’m humorless that way.

    But you did good work by exposing the lack of dedication of those clerks to their store. Even unmotivated minimum wage zombies should have some idea that they’re being paid to look out for their employer’s interests.

    Besides, your post made me laugh. So I guess that makes it all okay.

  24. Pingback: A Cartoonish Prank Gone Awry, or, How I Came to Own a Danielle … | work4real.net

  25. Brattiness does come back on you sometimes. Now you have to stare at the cheese that is Steele. You should donate it to your local library.

  26. Hey, didn’t Joe Orton (you probably don’t know he ever existed in the USA) get sent to prison for this?

  27. I’ve gotta learn to not read this blog while I’m drinking anything. I’m sure it’ll be better for the health of my computer as well.

    Great story, though.

  28. This might be the funniest story I read all week. Just found your blog, and its already moved onto the daily read pile. (Is it really a pile when its on the computer though?)

  29. I just found your blog too – but I have been reading your strip since it began and have spent far, far too much time – thanks to you – reflecting on comics. But since you brought up Bill Watterson – the door has been opened to my comic opinions, for which you provided the foundation:

    1) Calvin & Hobbes, hands down, is the best comic stip ever. The absolute best! I almost named my first child “Calvin.” Fortunately, she was a girl.

    2) While Family Circus is syrupy – and you exploit that a lot – I think it was less sugary sweet in the beginning. My sister loved this strip and bought the early books. (And she almost named her son Jeffy – I guess this inclination to name after comic strip characters runs in the family.) But it didn’t seem to be all sweetness and light back then. Afterall, one book was titled, “For this I went to college?” And the background picture was exasperated mom and crying children. So give Keane a break!

    3) I know this is sacrilege – and perhaps I’ll be banned from your blog – but Peanuts is overrated. Maybe because I don’t like Charles Schultz. He seemed a bitter man who never gave Charlie Brown a break. I have some of the old Peanuts books, and I think the strip was rather horrible in the beginning – it got a lot funnier with time. Frankly, I think his strip was saved by Snoopy’s lightheartedness. Sorry – I know “Sparky” is your hero – but Bill Watterson rules. All my love –

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