sightings

July 2nd, 2008 | Oddments

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I’ve had a couple of funny experiences lately. Last Saturday, my girlfriend Holly and I were wandering around the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens in Prospect Park. It was very lovely. But at one point we came around a corner, and ran into this woman who said, “Alison! Holly!” And although she looked very much like someone I might know, I didn’t actually know her. We were all three a little startled, and then the woman explained that she frequented this blog, and that’s how she recognized us. Her name is Sandra Kaplan, and she’s a volunteer at the Botanical Gardens. Here she is shaking Holly’s hand.

It happens more frequently that people recognize me out in the world. But it was odd for me that they recognized Holly too, that my personal life is visible in that way.

Then this afternoon I was shopping in a supermarket with my mom in Central PA, where I’m visiting her. And a woman came up behind us and said, “Are you Alison Bechdel? And are you Helen Bechdel?” She recognized my mom from the local paper here, where she has a monthly column which runs with a picture of her. The woman said her reading group was organizing a Fun Home tour, to visit the town where my book happens. She was very nice, and had her young daughter with her. My mom thinks she was probably struck by our resemblance to one another, as much as to our photographs.

Curious, that’s all.

56 Responses to “sightings”

  1. ken says:

    More power to you Alison. You are, after all, a superstar. I suppose you’ll just have to get used to it.

  2. julissa says:

    its true, superstar you are. i don’t know what i would do if i saw you, i’d probably pretend i didn’t recognize you and then run away… i’d be too intimidated!

    Also, i was talking to the director of my college’s women’s center about how we should bring you again (i think you came a couple years before i was enrolled in the college) and she told me that out of all of the famous people that she ever brought to the college you were the only one that made her speechless (when first meeting you)… i thought that was cute : )

  3. Scotia says:

    Well, you’re celesbrity in NYC for Pride. Embrace it; it’s great.

  4. LondonBoy says:

    Success begets fame. Fame begets recognition. Recognition begets acquaintance. Acquaintance begets learning. Learning begets success.

    Anyway, that’s just an excuse to post something. Here’s the news I really wanted to share with you all: my partner has just been appointed to a Visiting Fellowship at Harvard! This means that I’ll be visiting Boston/Cambridge from time to time over the coming months, so I’ll actually be in the same continent as most of the readers here…

    Really, I just wanted to let my friends here know the good news!

  5. NLC says:

    re: “Fun Home tours”.

    I’ve wondered about this ever since I first read FH and noted the detailed maps (a feeling reinforced when the guy who did that first review for the NYTimes described driving over to check out Beech Creek). How common is this? Even if they’re not full-fledged formal tours, do folks passing by on I-80 swing over to check out the town? Or zoomed in via Google Earth?

    (P.S. What a great t-shirt Sandra has on.)

  6. Angry says:

    “i’d probably pretend i didn’t recognize you and then run away… i’d be too intimidated!”

    I agree.

    I would run as well.

  7. Raffi says:

    No pictures of Helen?

  8. j.b.t. says:

    LondonBoy – Good news is good news! On behalf of the United States of America, I welcome you!

    J.

  9. Suz says:

    Any thoughts or comments you’d care to share on the fame by association thing, Holly? (I’m assuming you’re reading here.)

    Congrats to your partner, LondonBoy.

  10. Ng Yi-Sheng says:

    Were you at the Dyke March too? I was the skinny Chinese boy in a pink t-shirt waving a rainbow flag against the rain.

  11. advorunnermom says:

    @LondonBoy: Congrats!

    Some of us commute through Harvard Square on a regular basis…it’s not all it’s cranked up to be 😉

    But, welcome, to the same not only continent, but area code, if only intermittently!

  12. spoilsport says:

    Wow, I hated wearing name tags at my crappy customer services jobs in high school and college.

    I really want that hydrengea in the photo.

  13. cybercita says:

    you look like your mother? in your drawings, i always think that you make yourself look exactly like your dad, or at least the way you draw your dad.

  14. Ginjoint says:

    Freaky, but cool. So far.

  15. Ginjoint says:

    And LondonBoy – welcome to our shores.

  16. Jesse N says:

    Welcome LondonBoy! I working at Harvard – we’ll be neighbors! (Sort of…)

  17. Alex the Bold says:

    LondonBoy,

    If you ever get to Princeton, (that’s in New Jersey), let me know.

    Of course, to get to Princeton, you’ll have to drive past Yale. Eeeeeeeewwwww!!!!

  18. Kate L says:

    Here’s something to think about… how many of us who blog on this site have walked right past each other, not realizing it?

  19. Alex K says:

    @NLC: Although I thought about leaving I-80 to dip into Beech Creek, I decided that was a bit too stalkerish. Blogworld and bookworld are more than I ever thought I’d be privileged to share back when DTWOF hooked me, hauled me in, and gently put me permanently into its creel.

  20. Dale says:

    Kate L: Good question. I used to belong to an Elton John fansite “club” where we’d meet up occasionally in big cities like Columbus or Atlanta for concerts. After we’d talked about our hometowns I realized that I’d lived only a few miles from a couple of my cyber-buddies at one point in my life. Small world…
    So, shall we play Six Steps to DtWoF?
    By the way – many thanks to those who offered book suggestions last week!

  21. Donna says:

    I like the photo, very expressive!

  22. Pam I says:

    I’m five steps from Hillary Clinton. It goes back to Bill’s time in the UK….

  23. Pam I says:

    And I love the way that Alison, by instinct or design, has framed Sandra perfectly in the ring of blossoms.

    Now why can’t my students just _see_ like that?

  24. NLC says:

    Alex K[*]:
    I agree with you about the “stalkerish” nature. I certainly wasn’t urging anyone to do such a thing, but if we were to ask the folks at the local gas station, I can’t help but wonder how often it is that they’re asked for directions to FH[**].

    I think it’s very brave of AB to expose so much of this kind of factual, specific detail from her life. It’s hard to imagine how different her work would be without it.

    N

    [* Which reminds me –to tie back in to the bookish nature of the other thread– today is Franz Kafka’s birthday.]

    [** But –in this spirit of full disclosure– bear in mind that this is being written by a person who once spent a free afternoon after giving a talk at a conference in Berkley to drive up to the cafe at the Santa Rosa’s Redwood Empire Ice Arena in order to meet and shake hands with Charles Schulz as he finished his lunch…]

  25. Cheryl says:

    Can you comment on similarities/differences of being recognized for your work vs. always being aware people “know” and monitor you growing up in a small town?

  26. The Cat Pimp says:

    What’s nice is that the fan base is self-selecting. Not like you’re going to have some goober come up and yell, “DUUUUDE AWESOME!!11!!” or something like that. Hope you enjoyed the gardens. I used to sit there and paint really bad pictures of the water lilies.

  27. offmycake says:

    also, AB – your beau(ette) is rocking quite the “gun show”, as the kids today put it. rawr.

  28. lb says:

    Way to be four blocks from my house!

  29. capers says:

    I was there the same day. When the picture loaded on my screen, before I could see any people in it, I thought “huh, those look like those hydrangea-type flowers from the BBG”. I tried to lie down in the shade at one point and one of the park workers shoo’d me away – I guess there are designated places for lying down, you can’t just lie down wherever you want.

  30. meg says:

    I used to see alison every few weeks, and I’d ask her ‘how many copies?’

    one of the bright spots of working at Stinko’s. 😀

  31. Sherry says:

    I want Sandra’s T-shirt!

  32. cd in Madison says:

    I want Sandra’s Hat!

  33. Sherry says:

    CD – LOL! Love the hat too!

    Seriously, Sandra, if you happen to be reading the blog, I really would like to know where you got the shirt. I’m a cellist with a local orchestra and would love to have one.

  34. ksbel6 says:

    Sherry…try cafepress.com…they have just about every type of tshirt you can imagine. I wore a tux tshirt and black sweat pants to chaperone prom this year and got the entire administration discussing a “teacher dress code” for prom 🙂

  35. BrooklynPhil says:

    I literally live across the street from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden! I’m sorry I didn’t run into you as well!
    And I have free passes I could’ve given you and Holly. … oh well…
    Did you go to the Museum? The Murakami show is wild!.

  36. liza Cowan says:

    Brooklyn Phil – my niece lives across the street from the BBG also. Maybe you live in the same building. I’d love to see the Murakami show. I love that it’s called copyright (I dont’ know how to make the symbol) Murakami. I want to be copyright Cowan.

  37. Mija says:

    Alison— I must confess, everytime I am up around the Beech Creek/State College area, I kinda keep a look out for you just in case I might happen to bump into you. I was up there last weekend and I wondered if I were just deluding myself. It’s nice to know that there’s a one in a jillion chance that it may happen! So, if you see some hippie chick squealing,”Alison!”, it’s just me…

  38. sandra says:

    Hey everybody —

    My shirt comes from David Gage String Repair. There seems to be an online shop at http://www.davidgage.com with the shirt available in the ‘gear’ section.

    My hat is made by San Francisco Hat Company, and can be most easily gotten from http://www.TravelSmith.com, where it is called the ‘women’s packable Panama hat’.

    And now back to our regular programming…

  39. riotllama says:

    Alison, It being summer and you being a Vermonter, do you ever go to bread and puppet performances?
    or any one else reading this for that matter? I’m going up the weekend of the 20th and i would say hi to you in a shy but enthusiastic manner if you were also there.

  40. Sherry says:

    Thanks Sandra

  41. Maggie Jochild says:

    Sandra, since I know you’re reading this — when I first saw your photo, I thought you were Holly Hunter. That Holly Rae and Alison had met up with Holly Hunter. You have quite a charming grin.

  42. Chauncey Howell says:

    Admire your pawky charm, Allison. All those years in NYC TV news, I never forgot my Pennsylvania roots and that I am related to Susan B. Anthony: had lots of friends in Easton named Bechtel, with a “t”. Mishpochah?
    My aunt was a dreadnought dressed like Amy Lowell, sans cigar. She was accompanied by a cruiser that minced and fawned like Alice B. Toklas.
    Don’t forget this is John O’Hara country, so I was not out of line asking my father, as formidable as his sister, “Daddy, is Aunt Catherine a, uh, a, uh…a Lesbian!”
    My father’s cannon boomed across my teenage deck: “That’s disgusting! Your aunt is a, uh, a…a suffragette like our cousin that Anthony woman!”
    Best wishes to you,
    Chauncey Howell

  43. Ian says:

    I thought I saw AB in Liverpool the other day – exact same hair, similar build, face, on a bike. I had to triple check. Except it turned out to be a person of a different gender … *blushes* Still, it’s nice to know you’ve got an 18 year old(ish), male doppelganger out there somewhere, huh?

    Btw, don’t get persnickety about butch stereotyping by misogynous queens. I ain’t no such animile …

    I always get tongue-tied and flustered when I meet famous (or admired) people. I have the same reaction to very beautiful people as well. I’ve met a few of both types. And Pam – I’m 3 degrees from Hillary myself …

  44. ready2agitate says:

    My grandparents, immigrants from Eastern Europe (yes, Ashkenazim), who lived (like everyone) in BK, *met* one another playing tennis in Prospect Park. Begot my mum. Begot me. Humm.

    @Riotllama – Wish I wz going to B&P; it’s been years.

    @offmycake, guess I’m not too embarassed to ask you… “gun show”….? (pls enlighten…) (OK, yes, in Hebrew school, at age, I dunno 10-11, I was the one who raised my hand when the teacher asked if anyone in the class didn’t know what ‘circumcision’ was — gulp!)

    OK no more hijacking. Back to Prospect Park. Ahhhhh.

  45. alex k says:

    In the train from Budapest to Szombathely yesterday, going through the Saturday TELEGRAPH that I had picked up at Gatwick: “Alison Bechdel, author of the accomplished graphic novel FUN HOME, has drawn a beautiful, funny, and irreverent story for the 1,000th issue of the American magazine ENTERTEINMENT WEEKLY, which appears on her website…”. Two more summary and laudatory paragraphs follow – search the TELEGRAPH’s site for Alex Clark’s ENDPAPER column. Apologies for not providing the link, but I’m at an Internet cafe in the Graz railway station, and other work calls.

  46. Pam I says:

    @ Ian – trumped.

  47. Pam I says:

    Here’s the Daily Telegraph link, thanks AlexK
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/07/05/boend105.xml
    For non-Brits, what’s so pleasing about such a matter-of-fact article, and link to DTWOF, is that the Telegraph is still the High Tory newspaper of choice, though it is trying to drag itself into the 20th century. On the same slippery slope, the unbeloved Boris Johnson, the new mayor of London, led the London Gay Pride march on Saturday. He’s of the (more dangerous methinks) libertarian right school. The scrum for photos as the march set off, when all the big boy press got their one shot then buggered off, left me with a bashed nose. I’ll post a link when I get pics up. The other first at the march – the Army in uniform, so now all 3 armed forces get to be on show. Things are changing, are they better? Well yes, they must be if Boris is my new best friend. Aren’t they?

  48. Dr. Empirical says:

    I just got an email from my 19-year-old cousin telling me I had to check out the cool comic strip in Entertainment Weekly.

  49. Donna says:

    Pam, sorry you got your nose bashed. I hope you don’t mean broken!

  50. Pam I says:

    Just a glancing blow, but enough for me to give an earful to the perp, who probably came from the D. Telegraph in fact. I’ve got out of practice, as most of my work these days is a little more sedate. It all goes crazy when there is about 1 minute to get The Shot and every photographer is only as good as their last job. Of course in this case we had all day, but at Pride the Nationals and big agencies are only interested in the front line-up.

  51. Donna says:

    It’s all elbows and cameras. A big writhing elbow camera monster.

  52. ready2agitate says:

    What a cool (and cute) website you got there, Pam I. 😉 ~Ready

  53. Str8 But Not Narrow says:

    Heh. I actually met AB about ten years ago at a reading at Lambda Rising in D.C.

    I think I actually, er, bowled her over a little with my enthusiasm…hey, we’re not all dykes who have every word of these tomes memorized 😉

    Anyway, she was charming, awesome, and not intimidating. Not that I’m trying to unleash a legion of stalkers or anything…I’m sure all the folks from here would be reasonably diplomatic.

    Just some $.02!

  54. jude says:

    I was always shy around you, but my daughter – who grew up reading the books – used to hang out with you in the Michigan crafts area when we could still buy tshirts & mugs from your very hands. From what i hear, the two of you discussed character development. When i wince at the more toxic aspects of my parenting, both DTWOF and the opportunity to hang with you are among the things i comfort myself with:>

  55. ready2agitate says:

    Gee, the “whip out penis and pee” part kinda grossed me out. But yeah, Holly’s got ’em. From gardening I ‘spose. (Holly, don’t reply!)