An outing with good friends is always a good time, but when you're going to see Neil Gaiman it can only be described as epically awesome.
The event was in Washington, D.C. so I took the day off and met up with Wes in the afternoon. He was running behind so we had to skip our plans for early dinner and head straight to the G.W. Lisner auditorium, where Jessica and Elizabeth were already waiting in line more than an hour ahead of time. The line was terrifying, nearly wrapping around the building, but it moved quickly.
Gaiman explained that his latest novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, began as a short story that he couldn't seem to stop writing. By the time he spoke with his editor he said "Apparently, I've written a novel."
After telling the story of how his first adult novel in years came to be, he read from The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I could listen to that man read all day. Even Wes admitted that anyone else reading the novel aloud would pale in comparison to Gaiman's reading.
Once the Q&A was over, Gaiman said he would sign until his hand fell off. A fan cheered and Gaiman's face dropped a little. He replied, "You can't wooo my hand falling off!."Then the folks from Politics & Prose explained how the signing would work. We would be called up in groups to get their books signed by ticket number. Naturally, this prompted a flurry of activity in the audience where everyone pulled out their ticket and looked at the number. The Wastepaper Prose team... We were in the 500s. Could've been worse. There were 1,200 people there.
Of course as the waiting dragged on we began our descent into madness. In close quarters with people who are already weird, things just tend to get weirder. Discussions of what it looks like when Jessica's mouth cries, "negotiating the scooch", and how Jessica and I reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane aloud to Wes did not count as listening to an audiobook for June is Audiobook Month kept us amused in that "I no longer know what is going on" kind of way. Although, even event security thought Wes should have already finished the slim novel by the time our number was called. (Don't worry. He's done now and reviewing it soon.)
By the time we reached the stage it was after 11 p.m. and Elizabeth was the only one of our group still holding it together. Jessica was having a B52's style dance party, Wes was consumed by thoughts of pancake cheeseburgers (Yes, combined.), and I was wondering if, when it was all over, I would recognize the outside world.
I sobered myself as we approached the signing table and choreographed an adult conversation with Neil Gaiman in my head. Just in front of me, Wes, who could write a dissertation on the collected works of Neil Gaiman, was getting his books signed. Yet in the brief window for interaction, Wes doesn't tell the author whose work he loves so dearly how much he appreciates his contributions to the world of literature.
Instead, he leaves Gaiman with: "I feel like I should tell you your next book should be a cheeseburger." *facepalm* To his credit, Neil Gaiman wished Wes well in his quest for sustenance.What can I say? He's a class act.