* “That’s like the time I was asked, ‘Do you wear boxers or briefs?’ I said, ‘Depends.’ Tabitha said, ‘No one likes a smartass.’”
* King got a request to sing “Happy Birthday To You” to a woman in the audience. He led us all of us in singing “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday dear Mary, happy birthday to you.” He then looked back at the card. “Oh. It was Kathy.”
* Tabitha, his wife, is not the effusive type. “That’s pretty good” is about the extent of her praise if she really, really likes something. If she doesn’t like something, though, trust me, he knows it. (I like the note at the end of Dreamcatcher where King admits she hated its original title Cancer so much, she refused to call it that, calling it “the new one” or “the one with the shit-weasels.”) When she said of Lisey’s Story “That’s good,” he was relieved – it’s dedicated to her, after all. (They’ve been married since about 1970. It’s a good marriage. By all accounts, they’re a good match. I like seeing good matches.)
* King doesn’t (as far as I know) sing in the Rock-Bottom Remainders – “’Will you sing for us?’” he read from a question card. “No,” he replied – but once upon a time he actually played guitar and sang in coffeehouses. “I’m a grown-up old folkie – and an old fogey,” he said.
* He mentioned that the oft-asked-of-writers question “Where do you get your ideas?” is really kind of unanswerable. So, as Harlan Ellison likes to reply with “Schenectady,” King used to like to answer “Utica.” But his daughter Naomi became a Unitarian Universalist minister, and was called to minister a church…in Utica. “So that ends that joke,” King added.
* He told one of his favorite urban legends, about J.D. Salinger, who wrote famously then disappeared into reclusiveness in New Hampshire (which he finds an eccentric state, the first one to have toll-road liquor stores and the last one not to have seatbelt laws, so come to think of it, it’s probably not coincidence that King decided his alter-ego Richard Bachman was a farmer in New Hampshire. He certainly meant for Greg Stillson to be from New Hampshire…). He said that Salinger, allegedly, starting making yearly trips to the nearest town, rented safety deposit boxes, and would deposit in each a box looking like a manuscript box – yes, more books from the writer of The Catcher in the Rye. According to the legend, one day some clerk finally works up the courage to ask, “Mr. Salinger, are those books?” Salinger says yes, they are. “Are you going to publish them?” the clerk asks. “What for?” Salinger replies.
“That’s almost Zen,” King said.