A beautiful Saturday morning, that’s what it was. The date was 21st July 2012. Who would’ve thought that it would be even more beautiful at 11.46am when he first stepped into my life.
I am mad about all things Gaiman. And this morning, after dropping E off at her art class (knowing I didn’t have to worry about her later as her father, my ex-husband, would be picking her up), I decided that I must have his Coraline graphic novel. Borders, I thought to myself- they’d be sure to have it. So I hurried along the corridors of the mall, the welcoming sight of Borders in the distance. I trawled through to the fantasy/science fiction section, mouthing to myself, “Gaiman, Gaiman, Gaiman… G…where are you?”, my body bent at a weird angle to the right, scanning the books that lined the neat shelves. So engrossed was I that I didn’t notice him at first, who was standing next to me, and then a voice said, “Nice tatts.” Instinctively, I straightened up, looked at the tattoos that covered my arms, followed the sound of the voice, saw him standing there, the Prince of Stories in his hands. About half a foot taller than I was, with kind eyes, a rakish smile and a cap over his head, my eyes scanned him quickly, (cute, I thought) and the tattoos on his arms. (Ah, a fellow tattoo lover). And I smiled. “Thanks,” I replied, then pointing to the book he was holding, “That’s good. You should get it.” He looked surprised, then, “Oh yeah? Thanks, I will then.” That smile. An then an uncomfortable silence. “Any idea where the Gaiman graphic novels are?” I asked at last. “I’m looking for Coraline.” He pointed to his right, “Further up there. You’re in the wrong section. You need to check out the comics and graphic novels section.” A chuckle. Thanking him, I smiled again, and flitted off to the comics section, taking one last quick look at him before I did. He looked at me, too, and I quickly averted my eyes, walking ahead quickly.
So he was right. I plucked Coraline out, beaming with joy that I had found it. I flipped through the pages quickly, and then that voice again, “So we meet again.” Him. That rakish smile. “I’m looking for the Sandman series, Vol. 6,” he explained. “Found your Coraline?” I nodded, showing him the book. I continued looking at my book in silence, while he scanned the shelves. “Nah, don’t have it here,” he said. “Oh, too bad,” I voiced sympathetically. We stared at each other, this time more comfortably. He made some conversation about my tattoos, easily, and we talked tattoos for a bit. And then he blurted out, “What are you doing after this? Do you wanna have lunch?” I grinned, a warm fuzzy feeling in my toes. “With you?” “Sure,” he replied confidently, smiling again, his eyes crinkling in a cute way. “You’re asking me out to lunch? We’re in a bookstore,” I said incredulously. “Yeah,” he said again, “I’m buying you lunch.”
So I thought, what the heck. “I’ve never met a free lunch I didn’t like,” I quipped. He laughed. A week later, he would tell me that this quirky statement was what he liked, that sealed the deal for asking out a random rock-chick wearing a Guns & Roses t-shirt, with tattoos of phoenixes and dragons on her arms, yes, in a bookstore. “OK, let’s do it,” I said.
And we walked off together, smiling, a boy and a girl, about to have lunch together.