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Sunday, August 14, 2011

SDCC Ray Bradbury Part II

The next year, both Ray and I returned to SDCC. I still wanted to get both of my old books signed and give one of them to a childhood friend.  This year my wife attended with me as she was jealous about all of the fun I had the previous year.
Basically it was the same story as the year before, people got in line about 3 hours early. This time I joined them. I was prepared and I had hoped being closer to the beginning of the line would get me out sooner and I could get other things accomplished afterward. Again they were limiting the books to one but you could buy his auto.
A cute young girl got in line next to me. She was 20-ish and talkative. She bought a copy of Fahrenheit 451 and was browsing it.  At some point we started talking.  She mentioned her friend was interviewing Bradbury for the college newspaper and she had a chance to be there for that.  She decided she wanted to do this instead.  Her thought was she didn’t want to just be another person at the interview where she would be forgotten as soon as the interview was over.
Did that make sense to you?  It didn’t to me. I was thinking Ray would be seeing a 1000 people in 2 hours today and he wouldn’t be remembering any of us after we left the line.  A chance for an interview where the people in the room were limited was a better chance for one on one time and being remembered at least to the end of the day. I passed the illogic off to being young and stupid. 
Then she opened her purse and pulled out a pen.  She started browsing her copy of Fahrenheit and underlined a few words.  Again I was shocked and I asked if that was the copy she was going to get signed.  She nodded yes. She frowned in concentration as she read something and then crossed out a word or two and wrote in other words. 
Yes, that’s right she was editing Ray Bradbury. A 20-something college kid thought she could write better than a Grand Master of Science Fiction.  What’s next, Shakespeare?  Completing Beethoven’s unfinished symphony? Rewriting the Beatles Yesterday? This got me out of my Inner Cow/Zen – all is right with the world – attitude.
Incredulously I asked what she was doing. She looked up. And without any self-consciousness, she stated she was making changes.  Obviously my alarmed tone didn’t register with her. I did notice a few others around us looking at us though. 
I had to ask her to repeat herself. And she did.  She blithely repeated herself without realizing my blood pressure was rising. I’m sure veins were popping in my neck. Maybe my eyes were bugling too.
I bit my tongue. I really wanted to say: Who the hell are YOU to make changes to this classic?
I did ask if she did that often. She said yes.
Now I wanted to ask if she was going to show those changes to Ray.  I knew I would have shouted that so I left the question unasked. 
I just found the whole conversation surreal. My Inner Cow was having a cow. 
I was very quiet and still. That is a warning sign little girl.  Just be quiet.  Don’t say a word. Hold your breath and maybe Freddy and Jason will pass you by. 
Maybe normalcy will return.  Maybe I’m just jumping to conclusions. Maybe I just didn’t understand English as well I as I thought I did.
She started talking again.  It was more inane stuff about how her literary degree was teaching her to do these things. I wasn’t mistaken, or jumping to conclusion, or mistranslating English.
I felt trapped. This girl was insane.  It had to be the first signs of some zombie virus coursing through her blood. This is the start of the contagion and pandemic.  Ground zero was SDCC. How ironically fitting. Who would notice?  I wanted to be far from her. I wanted to get fresh air and bring back an axe and strike the killing blow before she bit someone and the sickness spread.
My silence was only consent for her to babble more.
Agoraphobia struck.  I needed to hide in some dark closet.  Could I really be experiencing this?  I had to be stroking out. Maybe that last protein bar I ate was bad.  Someone slip me some LSD? This couldn’t be happening.
Through the haze of adrenalin and fear I did a very smart thing. 
I called my wife and asked if she could take my place in line. 
Yes, I was going to subject my dear, caring, loving wife that everyone loves to this demented product of a college education.
The love of my live came to take my place I line.  I mumbled something to the girl about having another appointment.
Several hours later my wife told me that girl was ‘odd’.  If you know my unflappable wife, that is my wife having a temper tantrum.
The only thing I could do to repent was take my wife out to a nice steak place for dinner…and maybe rub her feet as walking all day on the concrete.
The things autograph hounds do for a signature.


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