I’m not the fun person I used to be. This realization came upon me two nights ago as I headed out to meet my favorite author, Jodi Picoult.

Now that daylight savings time is back, I didn’t even mind the fact that I would be driving toward D.C. in the evening, nor did I care that I might be up past my bedtime.

It would be worth it for the chance to actually meet someone I admire and also envy for her ability to write such great novels and juggle motherhood at the same time.

So I headed out with a friend of mine to a nearby Border’s and began searching for a parking space. As we got out of the car, I tried to remember the last time I had driven anywhere at night to have fun.

Chauffeuring the boys to football, track and basketball practice certainly doesn’t count as fun, and neither do those late-night trips to the grocery store to pick up a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk.

When did I stop being a fun person and start going to bed at 9 p.m. every night? I decided that was a question that might be better left unanswered, especially since the exact date would be somewhere in the last millennium.

The moment we walked into Borders, I realized there was very little chance the famous author and I would be having a chat. There were so many of her fans in attendance that we were given color-coded wristbands.

I had no idea what the wristbands were for, but I did notice that the women who had arrived early enough to get seats in the standing-room-only crowd had on yellow ones while ours were light blue. (There were a couple of men in the crowd, but it was obvious they had been dragged along by their wives.)

Quickly surveying the room and spotting floor space near the front, I decided to snake my way through the rows of impatient women who were too polite to ask where I thought I might be heading.

My friend and I were just close enough so that if I turned my head at an angle, I could see the author’s curly red hair as she read from her new book. I followed along with religious devotion the words I read only days before.

Just before Picoult began signing copies of the book I was so eager to continue reading, I found out the purpose of the wristbands. We were called to line up by the color of our bands.

First, those yellow-banded women were called, then the orange, green, dark blue and a few other colors of the rainbow.

In the meantime, my friend and I found seats in front of the cookbooks. The most tempting title was "Pie," but I resisted the urge to thumb through it while we waited.

Finally, we were called to line up with the other light blues in the Jazz section.

We didn’t see Picoult again until we had gone through Rhythm and Blues, Country and Soundtracks. "Doesn’t it feel like we’re at Disneyland, waiting to get on Space Mountain?" I joked.

As we were being shuffled closer and closer to the front of the line, I became less sure of my ability to engage the author in conversation. Like a kid about to sit in Santa’s lap, I was beginning to feel nervous and excited at the same time.

So I kept my mouth shut as I watched her sign the book and tried to absorb any writing vibes that might be floating around her.

That’s when Picoult looked up and said, "Oh, I like your jacket."

It was all I could hope for to be on the receiving end of a fashion compliment by my favorite author. I glowed, and almost stumbled, as I walked away.

That comment alone was worth staying out after dark. I might even do it again someday.

A mother of three boys, Pam Zich has been married to a Marine for 18 years and currently lives in Springfield, Va. You may e-mail her at or visit her Web site at

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