I am acclimated to non-urban life. I now expect to find parking wherever I need to go. When I'm out with the kids, I don't need to hover over them so intently. And events are hardly ever sold out.
I say "hardly" because this absolutely does not apply to sporting events, where the faithful flock to the various stadia like so many maize-and-blue druids. But for most other things, attendance is a piece of cake. I can leave my house 15 minutes before a movie starts (as opposed to in New York, when you have pay a $2 service charge to reserve a seat for a film that will be released after the next Olympics).
You can imagine my shock (as well as my sudden flashback to more frenzied, crowded time) when we got to the book store on Saturday and was told there was no more room at the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" Wimpapalooza.
This revelation was extraordinarily ill-timed. The 7yo, who has just discovered the Wimpcanon, was excited from the get-go, but his older brother was a tougher sell. Sure, he'd liked the books in the past, but that was when he was just a kid. I had to convince him to come at this from a different angle, as a fellow writer rather than a fan. What is your process? How do you come up with your plots? What was up with that live-action movie? (After that, he was OK with it. As long as he could approach him "without looking like I want to be there.")
When we were turned away, I thought, Wait a minute. I've come too far, and wheedled and cajoled my child for too long, to quit now. It's time to Make A Few Calls. And thanks to a very cordial PR director, I had a press pass. BOOM!
When we got there, Organized Bedlam reigned. The author was off to the side, and his Wimpourage paraded books and children before him in clumps of 25, based on the numbered ticket they held. While the other clumps were waiting, they could dance with the DJ, or mess with the photo booth, or practice drawing all the characters, or (as TwoBert did) ignore everything.
After everyone had filed out, the boys and I had our audience with Jeff, who was unfailingly patient and accommodating, if a little dazed. He answered all our questions, shook our hands, then staggered off to his tour bus and likely plunged his signing hand into a bucket of ice.
After we left, TwoBert skipped off to bed and fell asleep with "The Third Wheel" on his face. And my way-too-prematurely-jaded 10-year-old said, "Dad, you have the best job in the world, because you know everybody. You could be a spy or something."