Normal Night with Normal Neil Gaiman
WOM intern Hanna Goldberg, NHPR
No big deal, but I was backstage with Neil Gaiman on Wednesday. I don’t even mean that in jest. We just sat around and talked. Literally. Three feet from the most famous smart guy on the Internet. Surrounded by a waiting, rabid mob of Neil Gaiman fans, the scariest kind of fans, poised to devour him bodily. And it was totally normal.
No kidding. Even though I spent the whole night having to ignore half a million embarrassing texts from my friend, who was making a concerted effort to convince me to smell Neil Gaiman It was one of those times when you meet someone you’ve totally idolized forever and ever and it turns out he’s just a really nice, normal guy. He was the kind of guy you might meet anywhere, like a coffee shop, who shakes hands and eats and hangs out on couches. Only English. And also better smelling. He was friendly, too, and he signed all our books even though we were told he really wouldn’t want to sign our books, and joked about the humidity and his hair. Because you know what? Even Neil Gaiman has frizz-control issues.
So that was basically it: the night we hung out with Neil Gaiman and had really normal conversations and did really normal things. In retrospect it was probably an experience that most of the audience members, sporting that eerie kind of half-starved, delirious look people (not us, but people) tend to get at the very words "Neil Gaiman" could have benefitted from. Because really, if I learned anything it was that hanging out with famous people is the surest cure for the sort of creepy, borderline sociopathic hero worship that Neil Gaiman inspires.
On stage he read some nice bits from American Gods, and talked about being a writer. The whole thing went really well, even as one woman in the audience periodically interjected loud, inappropriately-timed, one-word responses to his rhetorical questions which was, you know, whatever--I guess I understand. He was pretty funny, I guess. And there is, too, that he is the Dream King, and his eyes are sparkly, like diamonds.
Fans swarmed him after the show for a photograph, a moment to bask in the glow, anything. I loitered backstage near the green room and out of the melee, and proceeded to do the least creepy, invasive, obsessed-fan thing that I could possibly do. I photographed everything that Neil Gaiman ate. I photographed the things that he touched, and the place he sat, and the cheddar cheese that he (or maybe somebody else, I guess) demolished and the sad, sad pepper jack that went completely ignored, and the very few remaining peanut M&Ms. And you know what? Whatever. You would have done the same thing, and Neil Gaiman loves blueberries, and now you know it, and I'd do it again.