Thursday, March 13, 2008

Neil Gaiman: Trembling on the Brink

Today I trembled on the brink of developing a whale of a crush.

Back story: A couple years ago my husband, ever vigilant for guys he thinks I’ll find attractive (see also “Cody Willard is My Type”), pointed out Neil Gaiman on a book cover. Davie’s really good at spotting my type (I’m not bad at returning the favor, either). At the time I looked up Neil on the web and was impressed with his body of work: he’s a fantasy/sci-fi author known for, among other things, authoring the Sandman comics and writing the novel American Gods. Although only four years my junior, he still has the boyish good looks and mop of curly dark hair I find irresistible.

I let the moment pass, and even when Davie asked for American Gods for a Christmas present and read it, I forgot about Neil Gaiman.

Fast forward to a week or two ago when we rented “Stardust.” I loved the script to this movie, as well as the story itself, and noticed in the credits it was based on a novel by Neil Gaiman. By this time the name merely rang a bell—I couldn’t place why my heart skipped a beat when I saw it. I hit Google and remembered my past encounter with the man. I asked Davie what happened to American Gods and he dug it out of the basement.

Today I read the first chapter. The writing style is quite reminiscent of one of my favorite authors, Stephen King. It’s too soon to say how much I’ll like the book, but so far so good. Very good.

And there’s still the problem that I really like what this guy looks like.

Like a fool, I googled him again, and happened upon a 2006 video of him doing a public appearance in relation to his collection of short stories and poetry, Fragile Things. I only had a few minutes to view this hour long video, but I couldn’t resist a peek.

Oh great—he’s British, too.

So I watched and listened to Neil do an absolutely wonderful reading of his absolutely wonderful poem “The Day the Saucers Came.” It was spell-binding really. He’s funny, quirky, and fantastically imaginative, in addition to his looking like that.

I went to his article on Wikipedia and learned he was influenced by, among other people, my beloved C.S. Lewis. And that he wrote the marvelous English screenplay of “Princess Mononoke.” And so on. In short, I uncovered a bunch more reasons to like the guy.

Then I peeked at his blog, and it was at this point that I began to feel true fear.

You see, the biggest threat to a crush is always reality. Infatuations used to be a whole lot easier before the internet. Back then you could find a few reasons to be drawn to someone, then a few reasons why you and he were destined to share some meaningful connection, without having reality thrust upon you. But then technology came along, and even celebrity’s lives can be open books. Neil’s blog, like anyone’s, is full of commentary on what he’s doing, communications with his friends, all sorts of evidence that he is a real and regular human being with a life in progress involving a billion personal details that seem infinitely distant from my own existence.

For awhile there I had been tempted to throw myself into this Neil Gaiman thing: watch the rest of that video, read all his books, get the Sandman comics, etc. But this is happening to me why? Because of that face, that British accent, one movie and one chapter of a book, so WHOA. I know it used to take less than that when I was 20 or even 30, okay, even when I was 40...but I can’t quite do it now.

I’m too scared.

Crushes are always scary things, even for the well-adjusted and non-psycho person who recognizes from the get-go that no real relationship will ever occur. You can’t help fearing the inevitable moment when you either (a) discover something about the person that clashes with your dream of his perfections or (b) start feeling so much that it hurts that you can’t ever meet him. When I was younger I gaily and boldly plunged in, paying no heed to the imminent arrival of such moments. It was worth it for the heady thrill of being infatuated.

But at 51 I am not so energetic. I look back on my crush in 1989 on Kenneth Branagh and marvel at the sheer amount of time I spent researching him, not to mention the money for the library copy machine. Don’t get me started on my Sting phase, which ended up with my not only learning everything about the man, but also studying his hero, Carl Jung, for years. Oh, and then there’s my 300+ page tribute site to Guy Carbonneau. No, I’m just not up for that anymore. For one thing, I have my own career to take care of; these books don’t write themselves you know! LOL

But that said, I also am not of a mind to walk away from Neil Gaiman. Because I am still me, and me is a person who just gets a little excited and fluttery when a guy like this comes along. So I’m sure I’ll read American Gods, and watch the rest of that video, and see what comes of that.

And okay, yeah, I did put him up on my wallpaper. Dang it, he’s just really good looking.


Miss Organizized said...

This is awesome!!! I really enjoyed the whole breakdown of why you can't throw yourself into an infatuation anymore ;) I could always understand yours and Mandsi's reasons behind plunging your entire life into the adoration of a celeb/sports figure/etc, as I too did it once with U2 and Bono...I mean getting a tattoo, that's dedication! But I think it wore me out over the years, I lost the energy to ever do it again. And for me, that later "reality check" feeling is way depressing and, again, for me, not worth the swirly infatuation part ;) In any case, Neil's a RAD guy and definitely worth some attention at the very least!! So definitely explore in every sense of the word! I think you can keep the strong crush at bay....I think....

Diana Laurence said...

See, you just matured way faster than Manzi and I did, Katesi! LOL

"Rad"...that's a good word for Neil all right. :-)