Springtime in Philadelphia is perfect but extremely short. Or, to put it another way, it's extremely short but perfect. So tonight I'm sitting in my backyard, posting this on Naomi's borrowed laptop, and the birds are singing and the sky is soft and subtle and even silvery and the air is as warm and comfortable as the Baltic on Midsummer's Day right after a Finnish sauna and I am so happy that I hope you are twice as happy as me.
One of many, many reasons I am happy is that, driving by Andorra Shopping Center, I saw a sign for one of those temporary remaindered book stores and, swerving through two lanes of oncoming traffic, made straight for it. And bought, of course many, many books. One of which was, as a sticker identified it, a "Signed First Edition" of Terry Pratchett's Thief of Time. For eight dollars.
I've met Terry a couple of times in the past, but never gotten his autograph because... well... so awfully many people ask him for his autograph that I've always figured it would be best karmically to simply let him be. So I'm particularly glad to have his autograph on a book (one which, by good luck, I haven't read yet) without having made extra work for him.
Which brings me to Neil Gaiman's favorite story.
I know it's his favorite because he told it either two or three times when we both were in Chengdu. "Autographing is fun for the first two and a half hours," he said. Then he related how he'd been in a bookstore for a signing in Brazil and two thousand people had showed up. The bookstore owner went out to tell them that only the first thousand would get autographs.
"The fun-loving Brazilians," Neil said, told the bookstore owner that if they didn't all get autographs, they'd trash his store.
So the owner said, "Oooookay!" and made a fast fade.
Neil signed from four in the afternoon until two in the morning. His arm swelled up to twice its normal size and had to be iced down afterwards.
Maybe that's not really Neil's favorite story. If it had happened to ME, it would be mine, and maybe I'm just projecting onto him. All I know is that at a Boskone several years ago, I had a semi-rarity of his which I thought to get his autograph on because I was going to give it to a very dear friend. Only when he got to the panel we we were both on (late, because he'd spent an extra hour beyond the scheduled one, autographing), and he quickly chowed down on some Chinese takeout (because he'd missed lunch for the extra hour's autographing in the previous parenthetical asidc), I noticed that his hand was shaking from exhaustion.
Not now, I thought. I'll ask him some other time.
So that's why I don't have Neil's autograph, but I do have Terry's. Funny old world, eh? As they both said in Good Omens.