“I don’t know who you are, but you look very interesting to talk to.”– I asked
And with that he crouched down from the elevated VIP platform and engaged in a lively conversation with me.
I asked simple questions at first, “Where do you live?”
I learned he missed his two dogs and seemed to live a quiet life for being in the VIP section of a private party at the Hard Rock during ComicCon. We conversed amicably for a bit, he lightly touched on some challenges he was experiencing and it turned philosophical as he shared a bit of wisdom about pursuit and perseverance. Then he stood up, thanked me for the chat, and blended back into VIP crowd.
Looking back, I wonder how differently the conversation would have gone had I been a fan, or even knew who he was at all. Would I have been able to connect with him as genuinely as I had? He was very careful to not reveal anything but real details of his life and generalities about his professional world. From working in film I held a certain respect for his privacy and did not press. “What do you think you want to do.” “I’m trying to figure that out.” – like perhaps I would have advice? I had nothing. “It has to be bold.”
After [insert famous 80’s band I cannot remember] finished their set, the crowd on the elevated platform flowed down into the room. A man with a certain air of, let’s say “je ne sais quoi”, approached me, “My companion is wondering if you would like to join him for the rest of the party”, indicating the mature gentleman I had been speaking with.
“Of course,” I shrugged my shoulders, “But why me?”
With a hint a facetiousness he said what might have been seen as the obvious, “Well, he likes to have a bit of arm candy.” Ahhh, that little black dress. I took it at face value and remained open to the path it would lead down.
The night carried on for a few hours, fueled by ample gin and tonic. I recall more banter about the crowd, life, and the pursuit of greatness and happiness. He spoke of people who meant much in his life, his wife and others. In the innocence of not having a clue whom I was speaking to, I was struck that a man of his maturity still held this youthful desire to create the next thing.
Clearly, there was one last scene in his life that he was determined to make unforgettable.
We ended the evening sitting on a bench across from the elevators. I had indicated that my friend had finished up at ComicCon and was coming to pick me up. He was kind enough to sit with me there while I waited for him to arrive. I received the text, smiled and thanked him for the nice conversation and left.
Standing in the elevator I remember thinking, “Could he do it? I wonder what it would look like?”
As I jumped in the truck I shared my story with far more detail than I can muster today. My film buff comic geek friend looked at me quizzically and pulled up a wiki on his phone. “Was this the guy.” “Yeah – totally.” He shook his head with the type of mirth that spoke, “of course you did.”, and shared the details about Stan Lee.
And so I have kept watch. It kindled the embers of what had been a passing interest in graphic novels that I’d had for a long time. To this day – the sound track of a good super hero movie can help me power through a project.
That night I had no idea how easily I would be able to see exactly that that last scene in his life would look like from the outside. But I did get a glimpse of what it felt like to him from the inside. I’m really excited to read the upcoming biography. It’s a bit like being able to learn more about that super interesting person I’d met somewhere backpacking across the UK back before the digital age. It’s that personal connection that drives my interest. I want to learn more about the man behind the super hero.