Scene: an independent bookstore, less than a week before E. L. James will be arriving to sign books. Phone rings. I answer. The following dialogue is as accurate in quotation as my stunned memory would allow.
ME: Bookstore — this is Olivia — how may I help you?
CALLER: I have a question about getting a ticket for the E. L. James signing.
ME: Oh, I’m sorry, we’re all sold out.
CALLER: I have a secondary question.
ME: Fire away.
CALLER: I’m a photographer with a book out. It’s about women and beauty and self-esteem and has been carried by the University Book Store. I would like to attend the E. L. James event and hand out my business card to people in the signing line.
ME: … No.
ME: I would strongly encourage you not to do that.
CALLER: Why not?
ME: Really? Well, because it’s inappropriate. The people in the signing line are here for E. L. James, not because they have issues with their bodies or their self-esteem.
CALLER: But I’m trying to help people!
ME: I can’t consent to your help on behalf of my customers.
CALLER: But I’m watching Katie Couric right now … I miss the next few sentences, wondering what on earth Katie Couric has to do with this. Though it’s clear she really believes she’s doing something important.
ME: Again, I would caution you against this.
CALLER: Are you going to have me arrested?
ME: What? No!
CALLER: So it’s not illegal, then.
ME: … Can I take your name down, please?
CALLER: Only if you agree that I can hand out my business card.
ME: Well, it looks like we’re stuck. Thanks for calling, and have a wonderful afternoon.
Exeunt omnes, pursued by a bear.