Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Fake Nino Ricci Autograph

Last week I was at the Goodwill outlet at Yonge/Jarvis. If you can get in without actually touching anything, the experience isn't so bad. Just outside the door there was a homeless woman sprawled out on the sidewalk reading Runaway. "Excuse me," she said to me. "What day is it today?"

"It's Wednesday."


"That's right."



"Is it Wednesday?"

"It is."

"Not Thursday?"

"It will be tomorrow."

"What about Tuesday?"

"That was yesterday."

"And Monday?"

"Two days ago."

"But it's Friday."

"After tomorrow."

"Sunday then."

"No, that's still four days off."


"And," I said, "Saturday was four days ago."

"Well, sure!" she said, throwing up her hands. "Who the fuck doesn't know that?"

I bought a copy of Nino Ricci's In a Glass House. I'd read it in a library incarnation, and couldn't pass up the opportunity to own the hardcover for $3.50. That's a subway token. (Leaving the subway, I bought a Mars bar for $2. So a hardcover Canadian novel is worth slightly more than a bar of chocolate. But get on that subway while eating the chocolate bar and you could've taken home a first printing hardcover Barney's Version. Buy a Metropass and you could've had both books, the chocolate, and you could've fed Ms. A. Munro for three months.)

So I was on the subway, surrounded by five people whose breath could start forest fires, when I cracked open Ricci's book. There, on the flyleaf, was a signature and an inscription: "To Caroline Bell, Yours, Nino Ricci, 1993."

I'd bought an autographed first edition for three bucks. Not that it was worth much, but I was a little excited. I don't own many signed books, and I'm trying to build a newer Canadian library--something that I'd enjoy reading. So it seemed like a good buy. (I've got an autographed copy of To Know Ourselves, which I bought for one dollar. That's it.)

I have a friend who really like Ricci's work, so I decided to stop to show her my buy. Actually, I was going to give it to her. The charm had worn off around College, and I figured it would be a nice gesture. Also, I wanted to sleep with her.

I got to her house, showed her the book, and invited myself in.

"Here," I said, offering it to her. "This is for you." A pause. "Nice top by the way. What'd you do with all the potatoes?"

She took the book. "I already have a copy."

"This one's signed." I opened it to the flyleaf and pointed out the signature.

She was quiet for about twenty seconds, then started to laugh. "First, you didn't have to take off your shoes. And this isn't his autograph. This is a fake."

"A fake?"

"Yeah. See." And she went to her bookshelf, took out a copy of Lives of the Saints, and opened it to the front cover. "I got this signed when I met him at the PEN dinner last year. See." And she showed me the signature. It was nothing like what I had. It was looping and fluid; mine was angular and violent.

"Who the hell would forge Nino Ricci's name?" I said.

"I don't know."

"Nino Ricci! Come on!" A pause. "Is that No Frills lipstick?"

"Maybe someone did it as a joke."

"But it's inscribed to someone. Do you think it was a gift?"

"I don't know."

"Someone tried to trick this woman?"

"I don't know, David."

"I'm really upset. This is really upsetting me. I need to sit down...Where's your bed?"

"You're not sitting on my bed."

"I just need to lie down for a minute. I'm really shocked here."


"What? You think I'm going to take something? Watch me! Come up, sit beside me, and watch me. I won't touch anything."


"No? Okay, then lie beside me. You're tired, right? It's, what, four? We'll just lie down, have a nap, and then we'll talk some more about the book...I really can't believe this."

"Let's just sit in the kitchen."

"I hate your kitchen."

"My kitchen's beautiful!"

"I can't stand all those pinecones."

"Fine, you can lie on my bed."


"Just don't wake up my boyfriend."

Nino Ricci...That's every single day.

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All Posts On This Site Are Intended As Juvenalian Satire. If They Veer Into Horatian Satire, That's OK Too. Just, Please, Don't Take Them Too Seriously. PhD Students Can't Afford Libel Suits. CUPE Doesn't Cover Court Costs.
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