A woman claimed that she drove ninety miles to see me at a book signing yesterday. I had to make sure that she was coming to see the right Jonathan Miller. One time, someone came to see Jonathan Miller, all right; they just didn't come to see me. I took a journey, beyond the fringe. . .
A few years ago, I was doing a signing at Barnes and Noble. The Albuquerque Journal hadn't done a write-up, they just gave me a line on the book page, said I was signing and gave the time. When I arrived at the store, the community relations manager told them that there were two women already there, waiting to get copies of my latest book. I had never had groupies before.
The women were Santa Fe stylish, in their sixties, and very, very pale. "Jonathan Miller," she swooned. "You look so much better in real life," she said in a clipped English accent.
"Thank you," I said.
She frowned. "You've lost your accent."
"I've been here for several years."
"I've read all your books and loved your sketches."
I wasn't sure if she was talking about sketches I jotted down in my loft, or sketches I had written when I took a comedy writing class at Second City in Chicago. "Uh thanks," I said.
"And weren't you just devastated when Dudley Moore died."
"Dudley Moore? I liked him the film, Ten, but..."
The woman stared at me. "Aren't you Jonathan Miller from Beyond the Fringe?"
"No, I've been inside the fringe most of my life."
It took a moment for us to figure out the confusion. Apparently there was a Jonathan Miller, who had been an English comedian who had worked with Dudley Moore.
She was disappointed that I was not the right person. We had a laugh about it. Still, she bought my book.
I don't know if the other Jonathan Miller is still alive, but I have practiced my English accent just in case I need it to make a sale. Beyond the Fringe indeed.