We left town for Canada Day. Initially I was going to go Away for a LARP vacation, but then after a chat with my Da it became apparent that it’d be nice to try to do something for my Grandmother’s birthday (she is the same age as Canada because she was born on Canada Day. That’s the way birthdays work), so we tried to, and that didn’t entirely work out. But we did get to spend Canada Day (and most of the next day, because we’re Those Guests who don’t leave when they rightfully should) with the Smarty Pantses. And it was Good. It was very, very Good.
So last night, I was in a hotel; it wasn’t entirely unlike the hotel we stayed in the first year I went to GenCon. I couldn’t tell you why, exactly, I was in this hotel…I think I was at a work function there. I must have been, because of what ended up happening later. So I was talking to a friend of mine, and we were discussing the upcoming playtest of the LARP I am inventing. And walking through the lobby (which must have been in the basement because the ceilings were low, the halls were narrow, and there were no windows) came someone who looked an awful lot like my International Literary Boyfriend, Neil Gaiman. So I said to my friend, “holy crap. Does that guy ever look like my International Literary Boyfriend, Neil Gaiman!” At which point the fellow, who must’ve heard me, turned and made a face at me. And you know, goddamned if it *wasn’t* my International Literary Boyfriend, Neil Gaiman. So I waved like an idiot, as if the man could tell from the way I was flopping about like a mime having a seizure that I was his Biggest Fan and not just an hotel guest having conniptions.
At that point, I tried *really* hard to remember why I was in that hotel at all, because really, all I was thinking was: “there can only be two reasons why my International Literary Boyfriend is in this hotel, and I’m quite sure ‘romantic literary rendezvous with his International Literary Stalker isn’t one of them”. Then I remembered – I was there for a Professional Development session for work. And I *hadn’t known* that my International Literary Boyfriend was even in town. (I never said I was a particularly good or efficient Literary Stalker.) And then I remembered I was supposed to be in a session, and excused myself from discussion LARP with my friend, and boarded the elevator to take me to the conference room floor.
My head was full of all sorts of things, but mostly “how on earth can I contrive a reasonable reason to meet my International Literary Boyfriend that does not end in police action?”
The elevator opened onto a large reception area, onto which opened the smallish conference/meeting rooms the PD was using. At the back of this reception area, near some boxes, stood my International Literary Boyfriend, Neil Gaiman. I thought “uh-oh. I’ve inadvertently stalked him here.” At first, I thought the Prudent thing to do would be to simply head into my session and tell people I had SEEN my International Literary Boyfriend, Neil Gaiman, at the VERY SAME HOTEL we were meeting at. And then I thought, “fuck prudence”, which I think was also the rallying chant of an entire cabin of adolescent male campers at vacation bible school one year.
I approached Himself and said in a nervous, questioning tone, “Er, Mr. Gaiman?” He glanced at me over his shoulder with an eyebrow raised. The next bit came out kind of all in one breath, like the time I met Mr. Robert Kroetsch, who was my Canadian Literary Boyfriend. “MynameiscenobyteandIwavedatyouinthelobbyandyou’remyInternationalLiteraryBoyfriendandonetimeyoureplied
And of course, my International Literary Boyfriend was incredibly gracious and said hello and that was very flattering. I glanced around at the boxes and asked was he doing a signing there and I didn’t want to intrude but was a bit curious about what had got him all the way to Saskatchewan if it hadn’t been me, ha-ha.
He said no, he wasn’t doing a signing, but that he’d been asked for some sort of consultation by the lawyers working for the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund on behalf of the American programmer who got detained at the Canadian border for having manga on his laptop. I said, “Ah. I see. That…kind of makes sense…” even though I didn’t, because that defendant had been returned to the ‘States, and in any case the …erm… well, the *case* wouldn’t be heard in Saskatchewan, and one would think the CBLD lawyers would be Americans, but then I thought what the poop, cenobyte. Just bloody go with it. You’re in love with this man’s words, for God’s sake. So I blurted out: “I’M IN LOVE WITH YOUR WORDS.”
He smiled, and was gracious, and said, “thank you very much. What do you do?”
It was Altogether Too Kind for him to be taking time away from whatever he was supposed to be doing to talk to me, and I said as much, and then told him I work for book publishers, and that I write, and I edit, and that I used to interview book folks on the radio and had had several Very Memorable shows during Freedom to Read Week. So we talked about that for a little while, and then we talked about art and censorship and the act of writing. And then I told him about the LARP I’m inventing that was inspired primarily by his Sandman GNs. And then we talked a little bit about some other things, and then I thought, oh crud.
I said, “I’m sorry, Mr. Gaiman. I’m taking up so much of your time here,”
And he said, “really, you should call me Neil, and it’s quite all right.”
I glanced around at the boxes and said, “Is there something I can help you do? Unpack boxes, or…?”
He seemed surprised at that, and then asked “isn’t there somewhere YOU are supposed to be?”
I said, “well, yes, but how often does one get to assist one’s International Literary Boyfriend with moving boxes from one spot to another?”
He smiled and said, “well, then, in fact, I would be very grateful for some help…”
So we moved boxes and unpacked them and organised the stuff inside and reorganised it (I don’t remember what stuff it was; a lot of comics, I think). And we chatted about all sorts of things, as happens when you work with someone moving boxes and such. Then, as we packed up the last of the stuff he wasn’t going to need in the last box, I held out my hand to him and said, “thanks for letting me hang out with you.”
He said, “oh, just a moment,” and went off to Somewhere, and returned with two books. One was a copy of one of the Sandman GNs that I have not got, and he signed it for me, and as I was leafing through it, he wrote something in the other book. I asked if I could take a picture with him, and he said yes, so we did this thing where he pretended to be at *my* book signing, and then there was a photo of me hiding behind the topiary while *he* signed books, and then just one of him and me sitting together on a couch.
And then…and this is where the supreme weirdness of my dreams comes in…he and his wife (the talented Amanda Palmer) were on the toilet in two separate WCs, separated by a rice-paper wall. And, even in my dream, I stood back and said, “this is incredibly weird,” in my best Hunter Thompson voice.
My International Literary Boyfriend Neil Gaiman’s amazingly talented musician wife Amanda Palmer then said: “weird makes the world go ’round,” and she asked if I’d like her to take a photo of me with her husband. And I said, “sure! I mean, I’ve taken a few, and I think you all are probably exhausted because you travel so much, but…actually, what would be at LEAST seven times that amount of awesome would be if he would take a photo of you and I!”
And so he did. And then I thanked him for the books, and looked down at what the second one was that he’d given me, and it was his Vampire:the Masquerade core book. The one he’d used at his tabletop games. HIS GAME BOOK. I totally didn’t know what to say. I mean, I have less than no use for a Vampire book these days, but dudes. NEIL GAIMAN GAVE ME HIS GAME BOOK.
So I wandered back into the elevator and down into the lobby, having completely forgotten why I was even at the damned hotel. I was flipping through his game book looking at all of his margin notations and such. In the lobby I saw my friend Ferlak, and he did his Ferlaky thing where he kind of blinks and nods and that’s how he says hello. He asked how I was, and I said, “Neil Gaiman signed a book for me.”
Ferlak said, “that’s pretty cool.”
I said, “you don’t know the half of it,” and showed him the game book.
“Wow,” he said. “That’s decidedly more cool, and quite impressive.”*
And then I woke up.
Best. Dream. Evar. Somewhere in the Dreaming is a Vampire: the Masquerade core rulebook signed with messages from Neil Gaiman’s tabletop friends, thanking him for running a great campaign for them, and which contains his margin notes, and he GAVE IT TO ME.
I should like to point out that this is EXACTLY how my friend Ferlak talks, and I think my dream has represented him so well that on waking, my first reaction was: I really miss hanging out with Ferlak rather than I just had the World’s Best Dream about my International Literary Boyfriend.