The room looked so much bigger from the stage. It was empty now, but three hours earlier it had been filled with (I’m guessing) 700 people, all waiting to meet George Takei.
I had been sitting in the second row from the back, and as we entered our third hour of waiting, George’s husband, Brad, strolled back to chat with us.
There were about 8 of us in our small group, and Brad began to tell jokes to break the ice. He was relaxed and funny and approachable. He had not come to settle us down…
The crowd had never become restless. In fact, the amount of patience was overwhelming. We were a lot of people in a small (it seemed) room, on the 4th floor of a Barnes & Noble (the number one in the nation), on Union Square in Manhattan on a muggy Tuesday night. The escalators weren’t working (that seems to be a theme lately), and none of that mattered. We were all there for George. There was a quiet excitement in the air.
As we laughed at Brad’s jokes, he began to talk with us as if we were all old friends. Our small group held two Trekkies (there were, of course, a good number of them in attendance, but you wouldn’t know it to look at them… all fan-geeking was internalized), two bookworms, two Broadway fans (George had performed in the Broadway musical “Allegiance”), myself, and a woman who’s grandparents had also been interred in concentration camps during the war. I want to point out that I only discovered the Star Trek fans at this point. No one else revealed “who” they were until they were speaking with George himself.
As Brad continued to chat and answer questions, one thing became clear. He loved George. He was so very proud of him. He was working the room, but not to keep us entertained. He wanted to know the people who had come to see his husband. The people who had been touched by his work as an actor, an activist and as an author. The people who were here to see a man who sat up on stage, wearing a crisp pink shirt and a smile, and who shook hands, signed books and chatted with his fans (without a break) for over 3 hours.
One man asked Brad if he would also sign the book. Brad lit up and happily took the pen and flipped through the book until he came to a page with a small picture of himself with George. He peeked up over the book and grinned, “I’m in here too you know!”
Brad continued to hang out with us, signing books, cracking jokes, and posing for selfies until, one by one, we were able to meet George.
I had so much to say to him, but I realized that we were all exhausted. I shook his hand, and told him I was a fan. I’m certain I was the first person to say THAT all night (eyeroll), and then I told him how I read Farewell To Manzanar as a teenager because it was required reading in high school, and how it changed me, and how it’s sad that they don’t make that required reading any more, and how I had introduced it to my daughter because of how important I thought it was (all this without taking a breath), and he tilted his head up and asked, “Where did you go to high school?”
I was stunned that he asked that. I guess I didn’t expect him to ask ME any questions. I answered, “Great Falls, Montana.” And he replied, “Well look at that, a Montanan in New York! You know, Montana surprised me. They managed to elect an impressive governor, and now he’s running for president!” I responded, “I think a lot of Montanans were surprised too.” And we laughed.
I am glad I didn’t get to finish what I was going to tell him. That besides myself, my daughter and her friends are huge fans. How his words make a difference in their lives. How, as a mother, I felt I had failed my youngest child when I promised her that there was no way donald trump would ever be elected president, much less nominated. I wanted to tell him how much his words meant to a group of kids who were just weeks shy of turning 18 on Election Day, 2016. These kids, who fall under every category ridiculed by the current potus, will not become victims. Because of the words and actions by him and other activists, they will change the future.
I am glad because I would have started to cry. The words would have stuck in my throat. And I think he already knows.