Thursday, December 21, 2006

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

It's 10:40 p.m. Thursday night, one week before American Thanksgiving, and I'm sitting at Gordon Biersch with a pint of Märzen, giving it a five percent chance that Neil Gaiman will call me.

I'm also giving it a five percent chance — another five percent, that is, making it ten percent altogether — that he might simply show up here. Not necessarily because I invited him, though I did, but because after his long reading, and what I imagine is a still ongoing book signing, he'll be wanting a pint. Bad. He's a writer, after all.

And if I were English — which he is — and if I were staying at The Fairmont, which is just around the corner from Gordon Biersch — which he just might be — this is where I would come in search of that pint.

Besides, I told him this is where I would be, on the note I passed him. The one that had my cell phone number on it.

Shut up. Like you've never done that, Gentle Reader.

Besides, it's not what you think. No, really, it's not. I mean, I know he's married. I read his blog. He has an adorable daughter, and I'm no homewrecker. It's just that we have a relationship.

Now don't go all squirrelly on me over that word. What are you, Jack? I mean only that we've met, virtually speaking. I wrote about him on my blog, and I told him so, through a form on his blog, and we had a brief email conversation. That's right, Neil Gaiman fans (and I know many of you are), I know the man's email address. And maybe that's not quite as scandalous as Paris Hilton having Gavin Newsom's phone number, but hey, I do what I can to amuse you.

(And please don't ask me whether I'd rather have Neil Gaiman's email address or Gavin Newsom's phone number. Let's not go there right now. There's plenty of time for that. I'm working on my New Year's resolution, and you'll hear about it soon enough.)

So Neil and I — I hope you don't mind if I address him by his first name — had had a couple of email conversations in the weeks leading up to tonight, and I found him to be just as witty and engaging in email as he is in his books, and he found me to be, well, I have no idea what he found me to be but he found me, because he emailed me first. So that's something.

Apparently, Neil wrote a biography of Duran Duran. It says so on the Wikipedia, so it must be true. Just another of the ever increasing number of reasons why I believe that, were we, Neil Gaiman and I, to have the opportunity to share a pint, we would become friends, even if he doesn't karaoke. Do not scoff at me, Gentle Reader; Neil became friends with Tori Amos in much the same fashion. Of course, she's famous, but let us not pick nits.

* * *

Where was I?

Oh yes. I'm sitting in "the alley" at Gordon Biersch, because the tent is up over the patio for the winter, so I can't smoke out there anymore. In the alley, I can keep an eye on the main entrance and I can smoke.

I cannot, however, get a beer.

See, the waiters and waitresses use this area — "the alley," they call it — to chat with the kitchen staff who are on break, and as a pass-through to the tent patio proper. They don't make eye contact with me, deliberately, I think, and I don't like to yell to get their attention. It's a Canadian thing.

So I've been sitting here for ten minutes when finally, a waiter passes near enough to me that I can angle my boot out to trip him.

"Excuse me, can I get a drink from you?"

"Well, no, I don't serve in this area."

"Can you send me someone who does, then? You see, I think the problem is, everyone's ignoring me because of that drink sitting there," I indicate the large plastic cup on my table. It's filled to the brim with amber liquid and ice cubes.

"That's not yours?" the waiter asks.

"No. It's been there since I sat down."

"Oh," he says, and he looks interested, then from side to side. "I'll take it," he says.

And he does.

Where I'm sitting is neither the alley proper, nor the tent proper; it's underneath the tent entrance, and so, technically, I shouldn't be smoking here, but right beside the spot where the untouched drink had been sitting moments earlier, there is an ashtray, also full to the brim. And beside that, a small container of salsa.

(You heard me. Do you think I would make something like that up?)

I am disappointed. I'd lit a cigarette in the hopes that a waiter would stop to tell me I shouldn't, and that I'd have an opening to request a beer.

* * *

His name is pronounced to rhyme with layman, not with hymen, by the way. This I learned when he referred to himself in the third person during the reading. I'm so glad to know it, because it will prevent further conversations of this sort, at least five of which I'd had in the weeks leading up to Neil's appearance in San Jose:

"Are you going to see Neil Gaiman?"

"No, where's he playing?"

"Downtown, at the Center for Literary Arts, in November."

"Neil Guyman is playing here in town?" is what I hear.

"You know who he is? Neil Gaiman?" I'd reply, continuing to pronounce his name incorrectly. "The fantasy author? The Sandman? Comic books, and all that?

"Oh! I thought you said Neil Diamond!"

I'd mistakenly thought that his name couldn't possibly be pronounced gay-man. Not when he'd written a book called Anansi Boys, about two boys whose last name was Nancy, thereby making them nancy boys. It was all just too Monty Python to be taken seriously.

* * *

Tomorrow on Postmoderne Sprachspielen: Find out whether Sass meets Neil Gaiman in person in For life is quite absurd.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate you.

I really, really hate you.



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