They tell you that you can leave. But if you do, they add, you need to remove all your luggage. Remember that guy United dragged off the plane not too long ago? We were longing to be him. The food part was especially ironic given that the lack of food on the plane was the initial reason for the delay.
Eventually, I walked to the back of the plane and snuck a glass of water from the flight attendant. I traded away one of my children for it. But it was all okay, because United kept me informed viatext, telling me in a series of texts that the flight would:. A monkey taking an algebra exam could do no worse. In fact, their updates were so consistently wrong that I started texting back to update THEM, replying to each of their updates with:.
But like a good firework show, United saved the best for last. They told us all that we would have to go to the United service desk to reschedule. So the same people who got off the plane at a. Line still had people in it when I left at a. The good news is that I finally got a new flight by connecting to United on Twitter. The bad news is that the flight is not until Saturday. Which means I need a hotel.
He is legendary. He is reclusive. And like Bigfoot, there is really only one photo of him in existence. I was traveling through Cleveland on a book tour, and I knew that he lived somewhere in the area. But Nick encouraged me to send an email to Bill anyways. And never expected to get a reply.
Let me tell you. Just getting an email from Bill Watterson is one of the most mind-blowing, surreal experiences I have ever had. Bill Watterson really exists? And he sends email? But he was. And he had a great sense of humor about the strip I had done, and was very funny, and oh yeah….
He said he knew that in my strip, I frequently make fun of my own art skills. And that he thought it would be funny to have me get hit on the head or something and suddenly be able to draw. The cartoonist who last drew Calvin and Hobbes riding their sled into history would return to the comics page. What followed was a series of back-and-forth emails where we discussed what the strips would be about, and how we would do them. He was confident. I was frightened. The idea I proposed was that instead of having me get hit on the head, I would pretend that Pearls was being drawn by a precocious second grader who thought my art was crap.
At every point in the process, I feared I would say something wrong. And that Bill would disappear back into the ether. And that the whole thing would seem like a wisp of my imagination. But I will offer you this one biographical tidbit:. I found that out when it came to the logistics of the artwork. I drew my part first and then shipped him the strips. I wanted him to fill in the panels I left blank, and simply scan and email me back the finished strips. I asked him to do this because I did not want to be responsible for handling his finished artwork.
Partly because I knew it would be worth thousands of dollars. Partly because I knew he wanted to auction it off for charity. And partly because my UPS driver has a tendency to leave my packages in the dirt at the end of our driveway. And this is when I found out that Bill Watterson is not comfortable with scanners or Photoshop or large email attachments.
In fact, by the end of the process, I was left with the distinct impression that he works in a log cabin lit by whale oil and hands his finished artwork to a man on a pony. Or have electricity. But then I remembered we were emailing. Which was smart. Because I would have called that man once a week for the rest of his life.
The only thing Bill ever asked of me was that I not reveal he had worked on Pearls until all three of his strips had run. And so I did not reveal his participation until now. Take, for example, a summer vacation. We ran out of regular rooms and had to upgrade you to a suite. Guests here are kidnapped from their rooms a lot less than they used to be.
Just look at him in this pre-removal-of-pants shot and imagine for yourselves. All that separated me from him was that little desk on the right.
See, here was my bed on the other side of that desk. Almost close enough that he could reach out and hold my hand during the night. Our first step was to unpack. I took out all of my cool clothes and put them in drawers. When we finished unpacking, we sat on our respective beds wondering what we could do for the next couple hours. He was thinking about getting something to eat. I was thinking about how I could change the locks while he was gone. We compromised and each sat at the desk signing a bunch of the postcards with our characters on them that the USO had given us to hand out to the troops.
There we sat, me and the creator of Family Circus. Him doing his patriotic duty by signing the postcards. Me doing my patriotic duty by not pushing him out the window. And at that moment, my greatest fear was not my possible demise. It was that my last vision on this planet, the one that would have to carry me toward the afterlife, would not be of a nude supermodel begging me to make these last few moments count. But keep in mind, his version of events is one-sided, biased, slanderous, exaggerated and wholly false.
Questions about how Doonesbury started. Questions about the Doonesbury strips he liked the most. Questions about the strips he liked least. For me, this is out of character, for I make it a point to never talk to the person sitting next to me on a flight. Especially a long flight. And this one qualifies. We are flying from Washington, D. We are on a USO trip to visit the troops in Kandahar. Making my mouth move even more freely are the Sierra Nevada beers I pounded at the United Airlines lounge just before getting on the flight.
My goal was to get so drunk that my buzz would carry me through the next seven days of alcohol-free Afghanistan. We should probably keep our voices down. The guy on the other side of me is trying to sleep. We are the last two guys awake. Questions about what inspires him. Questions about any regrets he may have. And then it happened. Or how. All I know is that I had asked him this question about regrets and then looked over at this legend of syndicated cartooning and saw it with my own two bloodshot eyes. Because I have to imagine he influenced every Russian playwright to follow, some of whom may not have wanted to shoot their main character in the head, but felt compelled.
All this made me look up Anton Chekhov to see how he, the playwright whose every character dramatically shot themselves in the head, ended his own life. Care to guess? She is crying because she has been trying to get us two flights home so we can cut our honeymoon short. But she has just found out that changing the flights costs a lot of money. Tip No. So I call an audible.