So, yeah, that happened last night.
About two months ago I saw something on Twitter (I think) about Neil Gaiman coming to Rowan University. I remember the brief conversation that my wife and I had concerning the coming event.
“NEIL GAIMAN IS COMING TO ROWAN!”
“NO – ROWAN!?”
We looked deeply into each other’s eyes and emotions & questions began to swirl – how could this be that Neil Gaiman, one of the world’s lights in literature was going to be coming to, of all places in the universe, South Jersey – our little corner of the vineyard? The thoughts continued. Well, the girls (our three daughters 21, 17, & 13) would have to go – they would have to see him speak about a topic that is near and dear to their hearts, creativity. Back during, “The Graveyard Book” tour I had taken two of my girls to see Mr. Gaiman read a chapter and to enjoy a Q&A (see: http://evilchickenscratch.blogspot.com/2008/10/neil-gaiman-in-philadelphia.html for all the gory details). But that was only two of my girls (my youngest and my wife had not yet seen him live) and it was before he delivered the best commencement speech ever at the, University of the Arts in Philadelphia (see: http://evilchickenscratch.blogspot.com/2012/05/neil-gaiman-on-making-good-art.html). They would have to see him. I knew that the lecture would speak to the creative, imaginative women that they truly are and that they would be bettered for the experience. They are at an age where consideration for one’s future is a big question. They are prone to the arts and I would much rather see them move towards the mountain, so to speak, than to wander in the desert. If there is one thing that Mr. Gaiman does (besides writing) it is to inspire creativity. Case in point, I was in a library and found a poem that someone wrote and stuck inside a book by Neil Gaiman. It was National Poetry Writing Month at the time and it struck me as a wonderful little thing to do (see: http://evilchickenscratch.blogspot.com/2013/04/things-found.html for all those details). With all this considered the deeper questions had to be probed & explored.
“Tickets.” We said out loud to each other, “How are we going to get tickets?”
It was a good question. After a brief search it was found that students and faculty were the first to have access to the tickets, followed by alumni, and then the public at large via a lottery. My wife, God bless her, has some friends who work at Rowan and they were kind enough to procure three tickets and bestow them upon us. I am an alumni (when I was there the school was known as, Glassboro State College); however, I was too late and the alumni tickets were gone. I entered the lottery – so did my wife. We got email notification from Rowan that we were not winners. (NOTE: this is something I have suspected of myself for quite some time and while it is pleasing to have my alma mater recognize this trait in me after so much time has passed I would appreciate it if they left my wife out of such hasty judgments thrown against her character in the future.)
So we had three tickets. I thought that it was important for the girls to be able to see the lecture and I developed a plan in my mind. We would drop off the girls, my wife & I would grab something to eat, rendezvous back with them after the lecture, and listen to their tales of awesomeness & joy that had been imparted upon them. This became the plan. I dropped them off with my wife (who was just showing them where to go) but, just for fun, I parked our mode of transportation and wandered in to meet up with them before going into the theater. They were already inside. I saw my wife and the two of us met in what appeared to be the “Stand By” zone. We were the only people standing there against the ropes and a woman approached us and asked, “Do you have tickets?”
“No.” My wife said, “We dropped off our daughters and we are going to dinner.”
“You’re not fans?” she asked.
“OH YEAH, WE’RE FANS.” I said and this woman and I started geeking out over the movie and story, “Stardust”. She was a fan of Robert De Niro’s performance. Me too.
“We don’t have tickets.” My wife said.
She looked at us and said, “My family is already seated,” and as she said this she reached into her pocket and produced two tickets and handed them to me.
“God bless, you,” was all I could say. I should have thrown my arms around this wonderful benefactor but I have a sneaky suspicion that security would have escorted me out. We profusely thanked her and stepped around the ropes to find our girls. (Note: To our Dearest Benefactor, if by some strange chance, if the right combination is struck between the tides and the planets in the heavens and you read this, my humble blog, THANK YOU for your wonderful act of kindness. Know that Robert Louis Stevenson was speaking of you, Gentle Woman, when he wrote, “Every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world, and bettered the tradition of mankind.”)
On our way to find the girls a charming young lady standing at a table with two other charming young ladies with cards and pencils asked us if we would like to submit a question for Neil to answer. My wife didn’t hear them and continued on to find our kids. I, on the other hand, said, “SURE,” and wrote down a question as my wife disappeared around the corner and into the theater. I joined them shortly thereafter.
What can I say? He was great. He performed some of his short stories & poems, he spoke about the creative process, and during the Q&A among the questions that Mr. Gaiman answered, was mine. It was a wonderful evening. If you haven’t seen or read Neil Gaiman, do so whenever you get the chance. I was happy to be there with my family because it is vital to be able to identify magic and wonder and joy in this world – in this life and by hearing encouraging words from one of the true masters of making magic and wonder and joy is priceless. I’m thankful that my wife & I could share that with our daughters who consistently bring those commodities, magic and wonder and joy, to us.
So there it is.
Thank you to that professor from Rowan who spent the last two years working on bringing Mr. Gaiman to South Jersey. I’m sorry I missed your name but know that YOU too are a hero.