Is there anything special you need during your visit?
I’m usually thankful for an easel and a big pad of paper. If the event in question is the sort of thing at which I could show slides, I like to have a digital projector on hand. Sometimes I’m asked about less practical things, however. Sometimes I’m asked if I have any sort of weird, non-negotiable contract riders like a certain thread count to my hotel sheets or a single ostrich feather for book-signing.
I got on this topic once with a library that was hosting me for a reading and signing on Dr. Seuss’s birthday. I no longer remember if I was just trying to be funny and broached the subject on my own, or if maybe the library started it by asking if I needed a bowl of all-green M&Ms or a bowl of everything but green M&Ms or whatever. How did green M&Ms become the yardstick of celebrity dressing-room excess? I Google it and find the legend attributed to Van Halen on one website and Aerosmith on another. Probably neither is true. Anyway, to the library I believe I answered that color was immaterial but that I wanted M&Ms with the “m” on each candy to be replaced with the Greek letter “pi”, and also a dozen live doves.
These kinds of events are generally booked weeks or even months in advance, so by the evening of Dr. Seuss’s birthday I’d forgotten all about the conversation. They anticipated this and had a copy of our last email exchange attached to the bags of custom M&Ms they gave me. It seems Mars Incorporated could not, at the time, put the letter “pi” on an M&M, but they could print “3.14…” They could print it on each and every green oblate spheroid.
It was all a very nice gesture, but it made me sensitive to where these sorts of careless jokes can lead. So now I just ask for the doves.