Edinburgh Jaunts: Part One (A Retraction)

September 19, 2010

Following my experience at the John Green book signing, my boyfriend decided to avenge my disappointment. As all nerds should do, he wrote a strongly-worded email without my knowledge. Here I present the brief conversation the pair had, upon my behalf. I feel awful about this, I really do. Although, the last email was written whilst I was bawling down the phone, snotting sentences at James for him to include. Enjoy!

FROM JAMES:
Hi John,

I realise that you probably won’t reply, whether because you are a
busy guy with a lot to do or because you say on your website that you don’t reply to e-mails anyway, but I thought I’d send this just to
set my mind at rest.

My girlfriend and I were at your talk and afterwards your signing
events in Edinburgh. She’s the reader and viewer of your show and
also, quite a fan of yours. It was her main reason to go to Edinburgh
and she thoroughly enjoyed the talk. However, she felt a bit let down
by you at your signing event afterward, which was quite a shame. She
had brought along one of your bobbleheads and asked you to sign it.
It was kind of you to sign that and the book and I can appreciate the
huge amount of people queuing, however she said to me afterward that you didn’t actually look her in the eye when you spoke to her and
were a little dismissive.

I realise there’s nothing you could do now as the time has passed.
However, from what I know of you I imagine you wouldn’t like to have
given that impression. I just wouldn’t be the person I am if I didn’t
mention it to you. It may have been just another fan in a long line,
but this was a big Nerdfighting fan that has bought all of your
books, the bobble head, and saved and paid for a stay in Edinburgh
herself. It was just a bit of a shame that her experience and, I
suppose, opinion of you was dented a little by this; after such a
build up for her she walked away feeling like she wasn’t really
acknowledged.

Not really expecting a response, but hopefully you read this at least.

James

—-

FROM SIR JOHN GREEN:
Hey, James,

Thanks for your note. I appreciate the honesty and I’m sorry that your
girlfriend had a disappointing experience meeting me. I’m really sorry
if I failed to engage her while signing. I’d been up all night jetlagged and as you point out the line was long, and I was crushingly
exhausted. This is not meant as an excuse so much as an
acknowledgement of the inherently problematic situation: from my
perspective, I was doing something I’m frankly really bad at–meeting
strangers–after having flown across the ocean at my own considerable expense. This is a legitimate interior experience but of course from the also legitimate perspective of your girlfriend, she had supported and liked me for a long time and then I signed her stuff for four seconds or whatever and then moved along with the line.

I don’t really have a good solution to this problem, although it
really bothers me. It may be that the best solution is just not to
travel, bc I feel like the competing narratives of that signing
experience are both totally legitimate and also totally irreconcilable. Like, every person in that line is so awesome, but the nature of the line is that if I spend a minute with each person the festival is going to be furious because I’ll be signing for four hours when I only have the table for 90 minutes. So instead we end up with these fleeting and inherently superficial interactions that may in the memory of my readers prove to be WORSE that not meeting me at all.

At any rate, I really am sorry and again appreciate you letting me
know about this. Please tell your girlfriend that she is awesome for me.

Best wishes,

John

—-
(So, I’ve ruined all future John Green sightings for Nerdfighters everywhere, but we did get a “Best Wishes”. Swings and roundabouts.)

FROM JAMES AND MY SNOTTY SELF:
Hey John,

I very much appreciate you getting back to me, as I didn’t really expect
it, no doubt you get a huge number of e-mails often. It’s nice to know
that you are reading each one. I do understand the constraints you were
working under whilst in Edinburgh as well as that you were suffering
from the effects of jet lag.

It wasn’t so much the time that you spent talking to her, Laura, and all
of the other fans, as both she and I could see, there was an incredible
line of fans waiting to see you. It was more that she didn’t think you
looked her in the eyes that got me, as I just see this as a little
impolite as a large proportion of the line had also traveled quite far
at great expense to themselves also. Maybe not as far as across the
Atlantic, but a number wouldn’t have an income to support the trip or,
like myself, live in the same country.

However, one thing you said in your response bothered me a lot. I would
hate it and myself if I was to persuade you not to travel to the UK or
anywhere else for that matter. Laura, as well as the huge number who
turned up to see you, were all incredibly excited before during and
judging by the Youtube and Twitter response, afterward also. Although we
didn’t attend the gathering as we were pushed for time, those that did
appeared to have a great time. I don’t want this minor thing to sour
your taste of the Fringe or the UK in general and Laura and I feel a
little guilty that I’ve put the thought into your head of not traveling
again.

I also don’t want you to have the impression that Laura had a wholly
disappointing experience in seeing you. It was only the small inaction
that upset her a bit. However, what upsets her more is the idea that,
since I sent this e-mail, she has upset you as you would not have done
this intentionally. We both realise this and are not trying to be
obstinate for the sake of it, but I wouldn’t be the boyfriend to her or
person that I am if I didn’t say anything.

I really hope this doesn’t stop you from returning to the UK as this is
a simple oversight and doesn’t have to be a big issue. I just did not
feel right leaving it without saying anything. The fact that you have
acknowledged this e-mail and replied in the manner that you have is more
than enough for us both.

Thank you and all the best,

James

PS. Laura never forgets to be awesome.

—-

(The parts where James is nice about me he wrote himself.)
I thought it was admirable that John replied at all, and I’m pretty grateful for that. This whole thing sucks, but let’s all move on now and talk about THE POPE, or something.

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One Response to “Edinburgh Jaunts: Part One (A Retraction)”

  1. Andrew said

    I think “strongly worded” may be a bit hyperbolic. He was straightforward, but I didn’t get the sense that James was aggressive or anything short of as polite as the situation could manage. Nice of John to respond.

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