Faces have been blurred to protect the innocent.
I would like to go into a little mini rant here.
First off, don't believe everything you read. (possibly to include this post)
Especially if it's written on a height clearance bar hanging down from the ceiling of a parking ramp. You know what I'm talking about -- those "if you can make it under this bar, the roof of your vehicle is not going to get wedged under one of our crossbeams, which, due to shoddy workmanship (ie anything made by builders here in MI) actually bulges downward to a height well below that of our lying-ass bar" things.
Roof meets crossbar. Lying-ass bar.
OK, on with the story.
So we were stuck (not literally stuck, just at an impasse) there on the 3rd level for a little bit while we tried to figure out the best way to get out without peeling up the roof like the lid on a tin of sardines. We ended up taking 2 more passengers on board (friends who had been following us and who will attest to the fact that we cleared the bar with room to spare) and letting some of the air out of the tires. Oh, yes, and posting the 2 men on the rear bumper, both of them pressing up on the ceiling to push the van down. O_O
We're being crushed!
Once we got back to the ramp entrance, the valiant men (GuTTer MuNKi and C's dh) let C and myself out with all the children to go find Mr. Snicket while A, my other friend (and owner of said van) went to accost the parking ramp manager about the lying-ass bar. The valiant men then proceeded to circle the block looking for parking for what would turn out to be the next hour or so.
At Borders, C and I were told that only copies of The End were being signed, (could they not have mentioned this on the phone when I called that morning and asked how many books we could bring?) and that we needed to get a wristband for the signing. They issued one wristband per book, so we got 1 and C had to buy another copy of The End because hers had somehow gotten left at home, even though I saw it in her hand when we were leaving her house. (I'm bummed for her, while at the same time being glad that at least I'm not the only one who does stuff like this.) We then popped across the street and into the theatre where Mr. Snicket would not be appearing.
A was still arm wrestling/brain wrestling the parking ramp manager to see who was Alpha dog. (turns out she was - GO A!!)
C and I herded all the kids into the theatre, and just a few minutes later, A arrived and found us. Whew!
The stage was dark, and rather lonely-looking with only one guy sitting on a stool out there. I took pics. He was soon joined by Mr. Handler. (oops! more pics - this time of the right guy)
They vamped, a word which here means "playing the same piece of a song over and over and over again in order to drive everyone crazy."
We had only missed about 5 mins of the "show." Mr. Handler had "stepped in" for Lemony Snicket (aka Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Film) due to unforseen circumstances (as always.)
I have to say that we were THOROUGHLY entertained. If you get a chance to go to a talk/signing, you should try to get there even if you have no clue what these books are. He's that funny. Be ready with your camera when he literally runs away at the end.
We followed the fleeing Mr. Handler across the street and into Borders. A had to call her dh from outside, so we took the kids in and promptly lost A's son in the madd(en)ing crowd. Aaaaaaarrrrrrrgh!!!! C rushed outside to check the street, while I held onto Prawn and A's daughter and looked inside, calling A's son in Korean and hoping that that would register a little better in all the crowd noise. I located him shortly thereafter (though somehow a lifetime had passed in those long, few minutes), looking rather shocked and frightened. I told him to hang on to his sister while I launched my older 2 to inform C that we'd found him. He did hold on. For all of about 4 seconds. :-P
The pandelerium over, we were thrilled to no end to find that our wristband colour was dead last. And, additionally, that there were no more bands available for A, so she was SOL. (We later learned that people had been queuing outside an hour and a half before the store opened that morning, so how we waltzed in after 5:00 pm and still got ANY wristbands is beyond me.) A and I are often mistaken for sisters, so I told her to hide her book, stick with us and we'd all go through together as a family, the idea being that maybe she could whip her book out at the last minute, because, well, you never know. I once got my real sis onto an airplane in a similar fashion even though her ID was expired and the person who was specifically checking dates was looking straight at it. The power of suggestion is an amazing thing.
Inside, we were told that we could go trick-or-treat at participating area businesses outside and that we should come back in 45 minutes to an hour, but we were loathe to risk missing our window of opportunity, so we stuck around. Borders had set up little "unpleasant activity" tables all over the store, and the kids kept busy through our "hour" long wait. I had NO idea that the time of the wait was actually being expressed in football time, and that our real wait would be more like 5 hours long. Silly me.
During the wait, we were able to go upstairs and peek at Mr.
But, we learned, there were nearly 450 people before us. OK more, actually, considering that most books were accompanied by more than one person. How would the poor man be feeling by the time he got to us (or we got to him)?
We continued to meander around looking at lovely books and doing activities, and met a lady who turned out to be in our ill-fated group. We informed her of her great luck (that our group was last) much to her chagrin. I waxed optimistic about the fact that at least it would be the end of things and maybe we'd get a little more time since they wouldn't be hurrying people through not knowing how much time would be left, to which the lady replied, yes that was one way of looking at it. Then, reminded of cheerfulness in the face of adversity she said, "You know, in the parking ramp there was this van --"
"Stuck? The big white one? Yes, that was us."
Turns out she was very impressed that C's dh could smile as he waved her around -- that anyone could still be in a good mood with something like that happening. He earned major bonus points (something undiminished by the fact that it wasn't his van :) ) The men got even more points when she learned of their circling the block ad nauseum while we went to see Mr.
Somewhere along the line, a little girl approached Fishy, bowed, and greeted him as the Avatar. :-)
Eventually -- 20-some coloured masks, 7 or 8 illustrated and written lion stories, 6-ish pipe-cleaner spiders, 7 coloured stand-up pumpkins, 7 decorated mini-gourds, 7 decorated treat bags and some assorted candy later -- the store was getting rather empty and our group was called upstairs. To wait.
Tom in the acidic green clothing was assigned to keep us entertained in the holding area and did so by giving a quiz to help us determine whether we were Villains or Volunteers. In spite of the fact that his name is not Count Olaf and that he has no tattoos, Fishy came out a Villain. This was helped by the fact that he was wearing no socks, a fact which he proudly displayed to all who cared to see. (Though after we got home and I saw the state of Sluggie's socks, I really don't think hers would strictly qualify anymore if it came down to an inspection.)
And finally we were allowed to line up in the long queue weaving back and forth amongst the bookshelves. We were last. Along with the lady who had so admired our cheerful husbands. There were a few stragglers who wandered in later, but we were pretty much it.
Then came the man with the embosser and sticky notes. You see, Mr. Snicket wasn't actually there to sign the books, was he? So the dedication pages were embossed and the man wrote personalisation info on sticky notes and put them inside the book for Mr. Handler's benefit. Holding my breath (and, in retrospect, no doubt looking somewhat shifty) I handed A's book to him across the sea of children. He did not ask to see a wristband.
At some point I realised that none of us had eaten since lunch, and it was wayyyyyyy past dinnertime. How the children held out (and remained cheerful) I'm not really sure, but eventually -- and struggling through this lengthy post has probably given you at least a taste of what we were feeling by this point -- we made it to The Table. The Borders lady to Mr. Handler's left was checking wristbands. She didn't check for A's. (miracles do happen)
The kids sang a snippet of the Volunteer Song and presented Mr. S - er, the guy in the lemony shirt with a heart-shaped balloon.
Snicket Handler was politely accommodating of this group of clearly insane midgets.
And for the sharp-eyed:
A nice touch
The poor man was cheerful to the bitter end, making sure to talk to each and every child, even though he was supposed to be out of there by 8 (dinner res?) and didn't get out until nearly 10:30. Even though I grabbed the chance to thank him for his books when I saw him leaving right behind us and held the door for him when he probably would rather have been bolting without saying a word.
Thanks again, Mr. H. You are ubercool.