He signed the book and then fixed me with the intense look and said, "I remember you."
"Seriously?" I asked, surprise sounding a lot like skepticism.
"Yeah. From the audience."
"Right. I was on the first row." My plan to say something nice sprang back to mind, but flustered, I went for the first thing that caught my eye. "I very much like your scarf."
"Thanks. I got it today." He said, and then gave me a hug.
"Also the stand up comedy." I added lamely as I felt the flow of the line pushing me away.
"Thanks very much for saying so." He responded, with what seemed like genuine gratitude.
The next evening, I attended his book signing at Barnes & Noble in Union Square, because my friend Rachel is also a big fan and she couldn't make it to the night before. I had really wanted to see the interview, so I just decided to do both. This was a much different event, complete with an interview with E! (You can watch the video here. I couldn't spot us in it, but there is some footage of the madness we were in the midst of) and attendance by the paparazzi. There was a brief talk/Q&A where he accepted a garland from a Hare Krishna, and engaged in a bizarre back and forth with the bolder audience members. Then there was a book signing. At one point he stopped the line for a good 10 minutes to visit with a little girl in a wheelchair who was hoping to get her booked signed. He signed the book, posed for pictures with her and her parents, and had what looked to be a pretty in-depth chat with her. It was all very sweet.
Rachel bought a book to be signed, so I waited in line with her. When we got to the front she was just as giddy and flustered as I had been the night before. I was giddy, but not nearly as much as I had been.
As her book was being signed she said, "You have great hair." Which he does.
"Thanks!" He said, shaking his hair a bit and happily letting the curls bounce. "You may touch it if you wish."
We did. He gave Rachel one of his zen hugs.
When he looked at me I said, "Oh, I got a book signed last night."
"Where?" He asked. Then without prompting remembered, "Right! First row!"
"Right." I said, accepting my second Russell Brand hug of the week.
I may be imagining it, but I feel like he gave me a bit of a look as I walked away that said, "It's still cute now, but if you turn up in the next city I'm notifying security."
Of course, all this was but a blip on my happiness radar compared to the join that accompanied Angus coming to visit me for the weekend. He was here from Thursday afternoon at 12:30 until Sunday afternoon at 3:15, and every moment was wonderful. It was his first time in the city, and I did my best to be a good tour guide in the face of adverse weather (rain, heavy wind.. apparently we were on the fringe of a nor'easter). I made sure he got to eat the iconic food (pizza, Katz's Deli, and H&H Bagel), and got to attend one cool event (a reading by Bill Bryson at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square - this place hosts a lot of events!). We did tons of walking around, visiting the different neighborhoods and seeing the famous buildings. Obviously, there's still a lot more for him to see next time he visits. But it was fantastic to be together, though saying goodbye again wasn't easy.
Today I had a five minute presentation for my midterm grade in my Politics of the Gaze class, which was nerve wracking but I ultimately felt good about. I have quite a lot of reading to do this week, but I'm feeling like a pretty capable grad student these days.