Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why my husband told Neil Gaiman that my son wanted to punch him in the face.

When we heard we were staying in the same hotel as Gaiman, we started to keep an eye out. This was in Chestertown, Maryland. I think there may only be one hotel. I was at Washington College for some reason for a few days and it coincided with the Gaiman reading -- set up by a then very freaked out Josh Shenk. Shenk was rightfully freaking. Once Neil tweeted about the event, people started showing up with tents. The venue went from a little auditorium to a bigger one to finally just having the event on a broad sweeping lawn -- hoping against rain.

I wanted to run into Gaiman -- or better yet get introduced. Neither happened. But my husband -- who once mused to Barbara Bush all about the male starfish as stay-at-home dad and worse something about the male nipple -- ran into Gaiman and said, with little intro, "Ah, you're the only person on the planet that my eleven year old would like to punch in the face."

Neil was a little stunned. He doesn't strike me as a boxer -- even from my sad view across a wide lawn. "Why is that?" he asked.

"The Mr. Punch book. It terrified him for months. He's still not right around puppets. Probably never will be."

(If you don't know Gaiman's book on Mr. Punch, get your hands on it. Beautiful, amazing, twisted -- and sure disturbing. You might never be right around puppets again.)

"Oh, right," Gaiman said -- or something like that, and they conversed briefly about non-violent topics then parted company.

Here's the thing, Gaiman gave a great reading and an amazing talk. He was hugely generous with his time -- fielding deep double rows of questions piled up at the mic. He was brilliant too.

So, my husband wonders later -- wast that weird? Telling Gaiman my son wanted to throw a punch at him?

And I said, "I'm sure he gets it all the time."

And my son -- when we told him?

He's not much of a boxer either -- never thrown a real punch in his life -- but he didn't hesitate. "Good," he said, "he's been warned."