So, last Sunday I went with my friend Megan to see Neil Gaiman at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. I knew he was coming, and I knew that he's said this is going to be his last ever book tour, but I didn't consider going on my own, because, well, it was an hour away, and I hate crowds..... I wanted to go, but, I told myself, it would be too expensive and too far. I can't even park in Ann Arbor, I'm that lame...
That wasn't the real reason, though. I'm a big fan fan of Neil Gaiman. I've read everything he's written, I love some of his stories like I love Ray Bradbury. Yep, it's a big deal to me. There's always a point in a Gaiman piece when I come to a phrase, or a paragraph, and I think, wow, that's so beautiful my chest hurts. And then I think, I'll never write something as good as that. I tell you this so you understand that I was afraid that meeting him in person would be.... Disappointing?
And, you know what? It wasn't. Gaiman was lovely. He was two hours late, due to delays leaving from San Francisco, and waiting was hard. There were, turns out, 1700 people packed into the theater, and pretty much everybody was wearing black. Yeah, it was hot. I spent the time playing "What Sandman character is that person dressed as?" Death, Death, Death, Dream, Death, Death, Dream.... Coraline....
We filled out index cards with questions, and waited. He landed about 25 minutes after we were supposed to start. In Detroit. They told us that we could only get the book signed, and he didn't have time for pictures or to personalize We waited. We ate tic tacs nervously. We commented to each to other that, when he got there, we would be sitting twelve feet from Neil Gaiman. Death got up to use the bathroom, and then another Death got up. We stood up to let them out. They returned, we stood, repeat. Repeat. Maybe she was Desire. Maybe he was too.... We decided our questions were stupid. We were relieved that he wouldn't be talking to us. More tic tacs WE WERE SO EXCITED,
Then he was there. He was twelve feet away from us!
He apologized, and said that he was going back to the original signing rules. He said that he had signed about 200 extra books, because he was afraid that people might have babysitters that needed to get home, and couldn't wait for the actual signing.He was very sweet. And funny and very charming. He read a bit from the new book, Ocean at the End Of The Lane, and some from his forthcoming picture book, Fortunately, the Milk. He praised libraries, readers, and daydreaming, as well as his kids and wife. He was even kind about Harlan Ellison. And he was incredibly entertaining.
Though he looked exhausted--and who wouldn't be? He made it a lovely evening. We were on the road home by about eleven-thirty, but I read the next morning that the signing when on till 3am. Wow. Thank you, Neil Gaiman. You showed up, in Michigan, where nobody ever shows up, under terrible circumstances, and were kind and lovely.
So, no. Not a disappointment.