by Nickee de Leon/Asianjournal.com
HERE’s an interesting (and goosebumping) tale for you.
Jason Drilon, a copywriter in Ogilvy and Mather Manila, proposed marriage to his girlfriend Maui Reyes, a copywriter from BBDO Guerrero-Ortega, by conspiring with none other than the master weaver of fantasy stories, Neil Gaiman.
Neil Gaiman was in the Philippines recently as one of the keynote speakers in the 20th Philippine Advertising Congress which was held at El Centro in Subic.
The legendary British author is best known for his cult-following DC Comics series Sandman, with Sandman #19, A Midsummer Night’s Dream bagging the 1991 World Fantasy Award for best short story, the first comic book to ever win a literary award. He was also the man behind Stardust, a fantasy novel-turned-film and co-wrote the script for Beowulf with Roger Avary.
In Jason’s Multiply blog (diveabout.multiply.com ) he related how he was able to involve the fantasy writer in plotting and planning the best, most creative marriage proposal ever. The blog entry is as follows:
The Proposal, c/o Neil Gaiman
Posted by Jason on November 26,’07 12:53 PM
Oh dear. Where do I begin? The timeline here will be slightly disjointed, so please do bear with me if I hop back and forth in my storytelling. It’s been a thoroughly exhausting week and I haven’t fully recovered from all this pleasant madness.
2007 Philippine Ad Congress, Day 02 – Neil’s opening remarks
I can vaguely recall Neil saying something about creativity, storytelling, and always asking, “What If?” because it’s from this “What If?” that we generate ideas and come up with stories. This was directly related to much of his writing, including his most current masterpiece-in-the-making, The Graveyard Book. In it, he answered the question, “What if a real baby could be raised in a graveyard…by dead people?”
*He read the first chapter of the book at the signing event — it’s rather good.
So I think it’s apt that I label what I did as my “What If?” moment. Because, to propose to my lovely girlfriend Maui, I asked the following:
“What if I could get Neil Gaiman, our most fave author and fantasy writer, to help propose to her?”
*I was under a lot of pressure from friends to find a “creative” way of proposing. So guys – was this creative enough for you?
Three Weeks Ago
I already knew some time before that Neil was going to be at the Ad Congress to give a couple of talks and a signing. So one late night, I went to the “Ask Neil” portion of his blog and wrote a rather long e-mail about how I planned to propose, and if he could find some time in his busy sched and play a small part (understatement of the year) in it. I did this well knowing that the e-mail would probably discarded along with the thousands of messages he gets every day.But two days later, a reply from his assistant:
Hi Jason,I am sure we can help with this, give me a bit to make sure of his schedule…
And a day later, while having lunch with Maui, I got a call from Jaime Daez, owner of local book superstore Fully Booked, telling me that Neil had in fact, agreed, and would be very happy to help me out.
I rushed over to Fully Booked to talk to Jaime (he wanted to meet and see my face so that he could signal Neil during the event) and ended up buying a copy of Absolute Sandman Vol. 02 (which was going to be the book).
What followed was about 2 weeks’ worth of planning and headaches to make sure everything was perfect.
2007 Philippine Ad Congress, Day 02 – In a Hallway for “AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY”:
After Neil’s talk, Maui rushed off to the loo. So I attempted to ambush Neil and introduce myself as “that insane guy you’re helping to propose to his girlfriend.”
But Maui quickly exited the bathrooms and rushed towards me, frozen in disbelief that Neil was actually there.
So I instead pushed her towards Neil and took a snap:
Happy Neil Moment #1. If only she knew…
STILL not content with my planning (which was reaching new heights of being Obsessive-Compulsive), I approached Lucre Villaluna of the Ad Congress Neil Gaiman event to put in yet ANOTHER failsafe measure. I told her my story, and wrote a short note to Neil reminding him of what was going to go down on Saturday. I know, I know – a bit much, but I WAS in an O-C mood.
And during dinner the next night, I received an SMS from her. What follows is our SMS exchange:
Lucre: Where r u?
Me: What’s up? Good news, I hope.
Lucre: Yes, bt pls kip it confidential. Can u call me ASAP?
I rushed out of the dining hall to call her:
Lucre: Hi! Someone wants to speak with you.
SFX: Shuffling, muffled voices, and then…
Neil: Hello, Jason. So we’re going to have you married on Saturday, then?
Me (drooling): …
We talked about how it would go down, and agreed on certain visual cues to make things go a smoothly as possible.
Neil: Let’s make some magic happen on Saturday.
Me (on the verge of fainting): …
*I hadn’t counted on this happening. It made my night. Thanks again, Neil.
Saturday, 6:30am, El Centro, Subic:
Groggy from a night of partying, we joined the line at an ungodly hour. Some guy had lined up at 12:30am, which was kind of freaky in a stalker-ish way, but we were all geeks anyway so it was all good. Ha!
For a last bit of planning, Lucre pulled me out of the line and shuttled me inside the venue to go over the entire routine. Everyone in the organizing committee was now in on it: ushers, doormen, bouncers and photographers. The operation would be simple: during the signing, they would stop everybody behind us from going up on stage and let the entire thing play out.
So at about 9:00am, a haggard and jet-lagged Neil took to the stage to read the first chapter of The Graveyard Book and answer some questions. Then he would sign books for the first 100 people in line (Maui and I were #19 and #20).
The rest of the story will be told mostly in pictures and captions. At this point, my mind was blank and I really, really can’t recall what happened.
Yes, Maui. Neil rocks. And he will rock further…
…because he wrote this.
…and Maui actually failed to notice Neil’s dedication because she was so starstruck. It took him about three times to actually get her to read the darn thing.
Maui (squealing, closing the book): Thanks!!!
Neil: Aren’t you going to read what I wrote? You have to read it..
Maui (opening the book, shrugging, then closing it again): Thanks!!!
Me: You have to read the dedication…
And she bent over to give Neil a kiss, STILL not noticing what was going on.
Neil: You really have to read this…
When she did (FINALLY!)…
Maui: OH MY GOD!!! (20x)
I took the ring out of my left pocket. Because of portability issues, I left the case back in the hotel, instead substituting a velvet pouch I’d hastily constructed before leaving for Subic.
And then I knelt.
I really hadn’t planned on kneeling. I thought it was an act that was too typical of a proposal and should be left out. But strangely, I found myself down on one knee, staring up at my now-tearful girlfriend and repeating, “Willyouwillyouwillyouwillyou?” over and over.
…and she said, “Yes.”
My guess is that the photographer was getting emotional as well.
This silly little act drew gasps, awwwsss and claps from the crowd. Friends cheered, strangers cried and my knees…were shaking worse than a 5.7 earthquake.
Maui hugged me, her back towards Neil. I reached out to shake his hand, whispering, “Thank you!” over and over. The Author. Neil. Gaiman. just. helped. me. propose. to. my. girlfriend.
And in the midst of all this, we managed to give Neil a copy of Maui’s great grandad’s book on folk tales (he was the writer of Lola Basyang, a popular children’s folktale series).
In his online journal, Gaiman described the booksigning/marriage proposal event as his most “favourite bit of the trip to the Philippines.”
The newly-engaged couple has not set a wedding date yet, but they’re hoping to convince Gaiman to become one of their principal sponsors.
As Gaiman aptly wrote in his book Stardust, “Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human? Pointless, really… Do the stars gaze back?”
Apparently, they do. (AJ)