Last Friday the husband and I went to see Neil Gaiman talk in Cleveland. This is a fine measure of how much I’ve corrupted the husband. He used to be an ordinary fellow. Ever so slowly I’ve been moving him over to the sci-fi/fantasy side of life. He is actually the one that heard that Neil Gaiman was going to be in town and wanted to go. He only really knew of him from the TV version of American Gods, although he had seen other movies and TV shows he had written for without knowing it was him.
We were only able to get seats in the balcony since we found out late. When we got there we found that the seats were very compact. My butt just fit into mine and my knees were touching the seat in front of me. I’m only 5’6. You have to be friendly with your neighbor. The husband doesn’t really do well in situations like this because he has big shoulders that take up more than his share of space. His PTSD doesn’t do well crowded in like that either so I always make sure to buy an aisle seat for him.
We started to notice that there were seats around us that weren’t occupied. The husband started talking to our sardine section. “When the lights go down, we should all just spread out to the empty chairs.” Then he got up and disappeared. I finally saw him surrounded by a group of female volunteer ushers. He was regaling them with some story.
Then it happened. I always this day would come.
An usher broke away from the group, came over to me, and asked, “Ma’am? Are you with that gentleman?“
I sighed and said, “It depends on what he’s doing over there.” That confused her.
Turns out he was getting official permission for us to scatter. Two ushers (one was the head person) escorted us to seats farther up in the balcony. They really wanted to make sure we were ok. I didn’t see the big deal. We were going to “worse” seats than the ones we paid for. He told me later that he might have played up the PTSD/wounded warrior angle for official permission. No one else in the sardine section moved but we got to spread out and sit a bit sideways to be able to stretch out our legs.
Neil Gaiman was great, of course. He had a stack of questions from the audience that he answered by telling stories. He interspersed a few readings.
The most exciting news for me is that he is working on a second London Below book. My favorite of his books is still Neverwhere. I am here for whatever he wants to write in that world.
He told stories about working with Terry Pratchett and the filming of the Good Omens series, including David Tennant being bit by a dog who didn’t know about acting and decided to defend the kids that were being threatened.
He talked about meeting his now-wife around 2008. The husband later said that it was good thing that he had found me first because Neil Gaiman was single at the same time I was in that year and I fit his definition of people he liked. That’s people who liked books and were a little weird. I was thinking, “Wait a minute. I was not aware that Neil Gaiman was an option at the time I was making life partner decisions” but I didn’t tell him that.
I loved the fact that he was talking against book snobbery. He wanted people to sample and get to know authors from all genres – horror, romance, kidlit, etc.
Then he read a full story from Norse Mythology. The husband started snoring but swears he heard the whole thing. He says that it was just that Neil’s voice was so “melodic and soothing.” He couldn’t have done that in sardineland.
So if you ever have a chance to hear Neil Gaiman on tour, we highly recommend it. Just remember if you spread out and get comfy that you might be lulled into a happy sleep.