Thursday, June 30, 2011

Neil Gaiman, Fairy Godmother

by Megan S.
Bipbitty, bopbitty, BOO!

I have a fairy godmother.  No, really, I do.  But, my fairy godmother doesn't look like those pleasantly plump older ladies from Disney cartoons with the cone hats and the vestigial wings that defy physics.  Nope. Mine wears black leather, was once afraid of aliens that couldn't climb stairs and is named Neil.

Yup, Neil Gaiman's my fairy godmother.

Don't believe me?  Maybe this will convince you.

Good Omens, written by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, has been my very favorite book since I was 16.  I've read it so many times that my first two copies literally fell apart, one from spine bending torture and the other from too many drops in the bathtub.* So, you can well imagine my response when I read Neil Gaiman mention on Monday that he was in San Francisco for a reading hosted by Booksmith that evening.

I did everything I could to get a ticket.  I called the store and asked for a seat but the tickets had been sold out for weeks.  I emailed, requesting a media pass, but the few set aside for outlets were already given away.  I had the brilliant idea of reserving a signed book at the store so I could, in effect, crash the reading and listen to a few lines of American Gods while paying but I learned the event wasn't being held at the bookstore.  I moped around, dejected.  Then I saw... the tweet.

A chorus of cherubic angels and small children arose from the ether when I read Neil Gaiman's announcement on Twitter of a spare ticket someone had.  A woman named Mia wouldn't be able to make it.  My fingers flew over the tiny iPhone keyboard writing a note to Mia.  "Please, please, please, may I have the ticket?"  I offered to find a way to pay the saintly girl back, if only I could go in her stead but it seemed impossible.  Other people had responded before me and, after a desperate series of phone calls, it turned out the ticket couldn't be transferred anyway because there was a waiting list miles long.  There would be no glass slippers for me.

Disappointed, I ditched Twitter and my phone in the bedroom to go make dinner.  Oh, well.  Some other time.

I checked my messages a half an hour later out of habit.  Despite all odds, I had received tweets from Neil Gaiman himself saying he'd take care of it!  I could go!  I admit I might have squealed so high in response that only neighborhood dogs could hear me.

I made it over to Berkeley in a little over an hour during rush hour commute.  This, in and of itself, proves the existence of fairy godmothers.  I had to catch a ride, two different trains,** run up a total of six flights of stairs, and catch a cab.

The staff looked slightly confused when I finally arrived twenty minutes after it was supposed to start.***  "Please, Neil Gaiman said it would be OK to come in Mia's place!"  "Oh," a friendly employee responded, "you're a friend of Neil's!"  I tried to explain I wasn't a friend but all that came out was a wheeze.  She returned after confirming I was Neil's friend and ushered me upstairs.

It was a marvelous evening.  Neil Gaiman and Mythbuster's Adam Savage were hilarious and sweet, discussing frustrated Norse gods as the two sat behind pulpits.  Even the church smelled intoxicating with the scent of gardenias floating on the air. 

The train ride back to San Francisco was peculiar.  The cars were populated with surreal characters: an aging hipster dressed like Paul Bunyan, an old man that muttered in Russian while wearing a blanket tied as a cape, and even a well-dressed French businessman with a goatee and a beret worn at a jaunty angle.  That's when it hit me.

It was the stuff of fairy tales and, like any fairy godmother worth their salt, Neil Gaiman had made it happen.

Thanks to the incomparable Neil Gaiman, the thoughtful Mia who only wants me to pay the favor forward, the kind staff of Booksmith, and the guy who shared his seat with me. It was incredible!

*It's like that question, "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?" Good Omens took two drops in the tub to become a bloated mess.

** If you saw someone with a ginormous smile on her face doing a little dance on a MUNI station platform on Monday, that was me after I had received a direct message from Neil.

*** The confusion may have stemmed from me looking wild-eyed and being out of breath, like I had been running from a gang of bikers, the Four Other Riders of the Apocalypse.
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  1. Congrats! I'm so happy for you!

    My copy of Good Omens has arrived and it's my big plan for the holiday weekend. :)

  2. I'm soooo glad it worked out!!!! It was a really special night, wasn't it!?!

    Sincerely, Christin at Booksmith

  3. I am reading Good Omens right now and I am loving it. Sigh, Meghan was right. Why do I fight her power?