I was reminded of this story today when a friend asked for a Chuck Palahniuk book recommendation. It's kinda funny.
Back when I ran a bookstore here locally, I went to the PNBA fall book show one year. Chuck Palahniuk was the keynote speaker at the luncheon one day, and arrived wearing a tuxedo with tails in a room of casually dressed booksellers.
The jacket of the tuxedo was covered (sleeves, back, lapels, under the arms, everywhere) with vintage faux-jeweled brooches.
He delivered his speech without mentioning it; likable, quirky, if maybe a bit full of himself. At the end, he says something like, "And I've noticed you all staring at my jacket all this time. Most of these are worth only a few dollars, but one is very valuable. I'd like everyone to come up and pluck a brooch off of my jacket, and take it home with you."
Picture: a swarm of ladies + a few men surrounding Chuck Palahniuk, who's standing Christ-posed (to allow access to the underarm pins?) while they examine and start pulling at his clothes.
I hung back until the crowd thinned (it was a little too "mall-on-Christmas-Eve" for me), and he noticed a few of us brooch-less and flapped us forward with his hand. He pointed out a green one to me (right sleeve) and I thanked him and took it back to my chair. Then he thanked us, and we applauded, and he went back to his seat.
I still wonder what was up with that, whether he was just trying to give us a good show, or liked the idea of a roomful of otherwise sedate people pulling at his clothes, or wanted another good story to tell at parties. The latter of which is what I'd have, if I ever went to the sort of parties where Chuck Palahniuk is brought up in conversation (I don't).
My brooch was not the super-valuable one, but I did have it pinned to my messenger bag for awhile, until the clasp broke, and it fell off, and presumably, someone else found it and carried it home. Which might be a good story, too.