Book Release Party: Blue Moo by Sandra Boynton
There was a time in this country when a person could break into a new profession via a fairly generic occupation: greeting cards. It’s thanks to greeting cards that we now have Robert Crumb. And it’s thanks to greeting cards (I consider them the Magic the Gathering of their day, illustrator-wise) that the world discovered Sandra Boynton.
Not long ago, I received an invite to the book release party for her newest title Blue Moo. It’s part picture book and part CD of famous singers doing songs that Ms. Boynton both wrote and composed. People like Davy Jones, Patti LuPone, Neal Sadaka, Gerry and the Pacemakers, B.B. King, and more. I didn’t actually know the publisher very well (Workman Publishing?) but the invite had three things in its favor. 1) It was on an evening when I didn’t have anything else planned. 2) It was going to be held at Ellen’s Stardust Diner where there would be free food and drink. 3) Ellen’s Stardust Diner happens to be precisely 15 feet away from the subway station I take home. Oh! One more. 4) There was a good chance that perhaps a famous singer would be there.
You might have thought that it would have been in my best interests to find a picture of Ms. Boynton before attending this soiree. You would be right in thinking that. It wouldn’t have been hard to find a picture of her. She does, after all, have a website and a Wikipedia page. I guess I had some vague notion that I’d see someone I knew there and that they’d point out who Ms. Boynton was to me. Maybe introduce me. Or maybe I could just spot her nametag and introduce myself. I’m not very good at that, but I thought it could be fun to try. This technique is not without its dangers, of course. For one thing, it means that you have to spend most of the evening in low lighting staring intently at the breasts of your fellow attendees. Then, when you find that you do not know them, you have to give them a blank smile and slowly back away. I thought that this would be the worst I’d undergo in the name of nametags. What I hadn’t counted on was a little twist, courtesy of Workman Publishing.
For those of you unfamiliar with Ellen’s Stardust Diner, it’s actually a pretty prominent restaurant on Broadway and 50th Street. Tourists are fond of it since it features diner decor and waiters and waitresses that dress in 50s garb and sing. Being that most of the singers on the Blue Moo album hit it big in the 50s, this was a pretty smart place to reserve for the evening. I high-tailed it over there after work and then the fun began.
Girls were given skate keys to wear around their necks. Dunno what the boys got. Then, after you gave your name, you got two name tags. One was your real tag with information about your job or your association. I was vaguely surprised to see that my tag mentioned my blog but not the fact that I worked for New York Public Library. This was a clue that I missed early on. The other nametag was a droll little thing that said in tiny letters My name is not and then in much bigger type a false name. I chose "Betty" since it’s a name I’ve been mistakenly called in the past. I felt it might come in useful someday.
The nametag idea was a good one, with only one flaw. Between the hard plastic fake nametag that pinned to your lapel and the weak-glued real nametag, roughly 75% of the real names fell to the floor within the first 5 minutes of the party. That left a lot of people without any sort of identification and me without any way of figuring out who Ms. Boynton was. Shucky darn. Still, the food was great. Kooky platters of everything from fancy pigs in a blanket to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches alongside chicken wings and other finger foods. At the bar you could get a Blue Moo, which was an electric blue drink in a martini glass that frightened the bejeezus out of me. I suspected that one good slurp of that and my innards would take on shades and tones hitherto ne’er meant to color the inside of a librarian. Instead I saw that they were offering literally ten different kinds of milkshakes. It made me recall something the girl at the door had said as I came in. "Davy Jones and milkshakes. It doesn’t get much better than that." Here were the milkshakes. That must mean that there was probably a former Monkee hanging about somewhere. Cool.
I ordered the milkshake at the very crowded bar and that was when the Curse of Betsy struck. You see, there is a curse upon my head that I acquired when I was rather young. If there is one drink I cannot stand, it is a banana milkshake. Years ago when I lived in Kalamazoo I had two friends who had the sweetest mother imaginable. Picture Donna Reed mixed with a kitten, and that was this mom. Every summer I would visit her home and she would offer to make me a milkshake. And every time this happened I would forget somehow that the milkshake to which she was referring was going to be of the hideous banana variety. I never managed to refuse the shake when she handed it to me, all smiles and happiness. I would just gulp it down like a good girl and attempt to keep the grotesque chunks of squishy yellow fruit from ever entering my gullet. Since that time I have been cursed to randomly receive banana milkshakes when I least expect it. That night was one such night, but I found the rum included in the drink almost made up for the floating chunks at the bottom of the glass.
(CONTINUED IN PART TWO)
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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