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… apologize to each and every one of them!!

Or so says Pig to Rat in the last frame of the cartoon on my newly framed and matted and autographed poster of Pearls Before Swine … the framing, of course, being my happy activity today. (Thanks to Julie in the Framing Department … Hobby Lobby … Altoona … 40% off … be there or be square)

aalthough mine is autographed by Stephan PastisWhen Calvin and Hobbes vanished from the pages of all things wonderful in the newspaper, I despaired of ever finding another cartoon that could make me laugh out loud.

Flash forward to the end of the year 2010 and I am working on a project at a company that, for obvious reasons, had this cartoon daily on their PC’s upon powering up in the morning. (The company was New Pig … need I say more?) Before long I am swept into a world of Crocs, Misanthropes and Zeebas. And uncontrollable laughing out loud in a serene business environment.

Long after the end of the project I still read the strip daily. Written by a man who spent ten years as a lawyer, the strip makes me laugh most days in pure delight. Add to that the fact that Stephan Pastis is a personal friend on Facebook. And we all know how valuable and rare those Facebook friends are.

So when I saw that my friend was coming to Pittsburgh to speak at the Toonseum this past Friday, I immediately bought tickets … VIP Tickets at that. (read: very small group, private meeting before lecture, picture, poster, book, free drinks, display of famous original cartoons of his, laughter, and great all around fun with fellow fans.)

Stopping at my wildly supportive parents house outside of Pittsburgh to get dressed (“You are doing WHAT? And what exactly is the practical value of this? You actually PAID to do this?) I could barely contain my enthusiasm.

After negotiating the rush hour Pittsburgh traffic and finding an on-street parking spot on an adjacent street, I walked excitedly to the Toonseum, carefully noting the way back for later reference.

Once in the room where the event was to take place, presigned poster and book in hand, I looked around … no Stephan. So I went about being my normal friendly self while perusing the many framed original cartoons on the wall … many of which I recognized.

Suddenly, the doors opened and in walked the curator of the museum … and in an unassuming t-shirt, blue jeans and ball cap … my friend Stephan. In all his glory. Just like on my Facebook friends list.

And nobody recognized him.

Except me, of course. So before people figured out who he was (they HAD said in the invite not to be shy about going up and talking to him) I worked my way over to where he was standing … and introduced myself … “Hi, I’m Holly … and you are the only man who can make me laugh out loud since my last break-up” … to which he laughed heartily and shook my hand.

This ranks right up there in my life’s bizarre-o-meter along with the time, at my 20th High School reunion, when I brazenly waltzed up to my high school secret crush and his new wife and blatently informed him that I had had a mad crush on him for nigh unto six years back when. He was a witty intelligent lawyer type, too. What can I say? It’s a weakness.

Me and my Facebook friend, Stephan Pastis ... After talking to him briefly, I asked if he would be kind enough as to sign my book and have a picture taken before the hoards realized who he was … and he graciously agreed. I was going to ask him to write “to my insanely creative friend Holly” but I decided not to push it. Too close to home, you know.

Furthermore, the gal who took the picture took another and said she would post it to the Toonseum FB page which is where I got the picture at the right here.

After an hour and a half of private fun, we all adjourned to the venue next door to listen to his presentation. Being a former lawyer, he is every bit as intelligent and witty as you might imagine. And most everyone laughed out loud … not unlike my reaction all those months ago at New Pig … at his dry wit and deadpan delivery.

So now, not only do I have a framed poster to remind me of the event, but he just responded to my Facebook post regarding his new to-be-released book (a young boy detective and his polar bear partner) with the comment “Pittsburgh, here I come”.

Sounds like he had a fun time in the ‘burgh too …