Every year I get inspired by a book or two. Inspired, as in, "If I only had one life to live..." inspired. I usually buy a whole carton and hand them out to my friends. Sometimes I know the author; sometimes I have to look them up on wikipedia and wonder what I've been missing all these years. But I know one thing: it's rare that authors hear from anyone, besides prisoner requests, about the effect their work is having. So I always write a letter, too.
I've never had the same author shatter my literary coma two years in a row. But Alison Bechdel did it. She's an old colleague of mine from the days when queers only had secret underground lairs to publish in. I thought she was just like me, one of our talented gang of rabble-rousers. She's not— she's a genius.
I contacted Alison and proposed that I could make her a tailored men's shirt, as an homage to her greatness. Then I realized I couldn't pull that off without demanding she come in for multiple fittings while I wrestled with my seamstress inadequacies. She lives in Vermont but even if she lived next door to me in California, I think she'd go crazy with my methods.
So I said, "How about flannel pajamas?"
She liked that idea. She picked out the grizzly bear print from some samples I sent her.
And then.... a YEAR went by. I guess I'm not the world's greatest fan, after all. But this September, I did it— and mailed them after the Labor Day weekend. Alison emailed me to say they arrived... on her birthday. Magic is in the air!
And they fit. And they're cozy. And she's grizz-tastic.