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For I'm Bound For W V With a Roadmap on My Knee -- Part 4B Selby Encounters of the Third Kind
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Part Four: The Reception:

 

B- Selby Encounters of the Third Kind



I happened to look up at a good moment and saw that David Selby was standing nearby, speaking with only a couple of people. Looked like the best opportunity I would have to congratulate him on the performance, so I hovered on the sidelines, listening to the conversation until I would have a chance to speak with him.

 

My ears perked up when I heard him say the name “Dan Curtis”, and I realized he was talking about the “Return to Collinwood” radio play which I had seen performed at the Fest... He was talking to someone (so at least ONE other person there was into DS and knew about the play at the Fest) about having talked to Dan Curtis that day, and how he enjoyed working with Curtis.

Then that guy finished talking and there was only me, standing a foot or so away so as not to be too pushy. He looked over, got this big grin and said  “I know YOU. I SAW YOU IN THE ELEVATOR!"

 

NY smartalec mouth firmly in gear, I answer back, "Yes you did." (don’t remember if I said Sir, I do tend to -- even with the teenagers at the takeout windows!)  "And you also saw me last month in Brooklyn!” (Of course after this comes out I think “Wonderful… This guy will now think I’m some sort of freaky stalker following him around!”)

 

From there I told him how much I enjoyed the play and congratulated him on his performance, then put out my hand to shake hands with him (thank goodness for the crutch with the hinge, so I can do this maneuver smoothly).  Nice firm handshake by the way, neither limp nor weak, but at the same time not crushing a tiny little female hand like mine. (And to get the sillier questions out of the way, yes, my woman’s size small glove hand just about disappeared into his big hand.)

 

We spoke about the play for a while as he said how pleased he was with the turnout. I explained I really couldn’t see how full the house was from where I sat, but I could tell that it was a  “live” audience, and with the actors the whole way, as opposed to some where no matter what the actors try, the audience is never more than lukewarm.

  

He then started telling me about the progress on “Return to Collinwood”, having spoken to Jamison that day and been updated on the progress of things on the CD. What "they" (his phrase, don’t know if it was Curtis, Jim Pierson, and Jamison or all three he was referring to) were telling him about how wonderfully it had turned out. What he explained to me was that it would be released with the CD and the finalized printed form of the script.  He didn’t make mention of the DVD of the performance at the con, which is what I would really like to see, but as happened a few times during out conversation, the flow of the conversation segued and I wasn’t able to find out more about something that really interested me.  Same thing happened about the fact that there were so many loose ends left in the script, just inviting a sequel or continuing saga, as well has how he had gotten involved with a group like Main Street Martinsburg, when his hometown was in the opposite end of the state.

 

 Earlier he had mentioned about Jamison writing it, as if he thought I wasn’t aware of that fact.  I told him (and I THINK that I remembered to qualify it with the fact that I KNEW he would not remember one fan in that huge mob), that I was the fan who asked him where Jamison was after the play because I wanted to compliment him on the fine job he'd done with that script.


So he's telling me all this chatting away like I'm a long lost friend. Then he asks me if I’m from Brooklyn. I sort of cringe a little and said in this teeny voice "The Bronx?"  He seemed startled when I told him I’d driven in from the Bronx, and asked about me coming down from NY just for this. And out of my mouth comes not a social triviality, but a condensed version of the truth. Explained that when he was in CT in 98 and 2000 I had been in physical therapy and didn’t find out about missing it till loong afterward. (I cringed again because I could not BELIEVE I had said something to draw attention so blatantly to my disability—as well as making me sound a little too much like an obsessed fan for my comfort!)  

 

At some point in this conversation, triggered by a twinge in the disk in my neck,  I realize that he is now standing closer to me, his arm is around my waist, seems to have been there for a while, and I’ve no idea when it got there or what precisely triggered him to do it!!!!!!!!! 

 

Hard to second guess someone who is to all intents and purposes a stranger.  All I know of him as a person is two very short interactions at the Fest, coupled with the personal glimpses I’ve gotten from reading interviews and his poetry books.  He does seem to be a “toucher”, (in a totally appropriate, gentlemanly way, let me stress!) so I’d guess it was a way of showing sympathy and that he was touched by my making the trip without getting into awkwardness with words. Possibly it had to do with my mention of the PT and the loss of his mother the same year.   I do suspect though, that he got some quiet amusement from the startled expression which probably crossed my pane of glass face when I realized where his arm was!   I DO have to admit that when I finally caught on, and saw how close his waist was to me, reciprocating DID cross my mind.  However -- I WAS GOOD!!!. I DID NOT TOUCH!!!!!  I DID NOT GET IN HIS PERSONAL SPACE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <G>


 

Well, his arm never moved for the whole rest of the conversation.

 

                                   ************

 

David Selby is a very “people centered” person, I discovered.  He looks people right in the eyes when he speaks to them, and by his responses, listens to what is being said.  He also asks questions that show he is interested in the person he is speaking to. It is not Quentin Collins, Richard Channing, or any other of his characters you see, but an intelligent, thoughtful gentleman with kind eyes. In short, you quickly become comfortable speaking with him. All too comfortable, as I was to discover.

 

DS still has his arm around me, and he is now asking if I will be staying long in the area.  Unfortunately, I don’t manage to steer the conversation into something that will let me find out more about the area I had been so eager to explore and find out more about. Or, as a history buff, mention how much I would have enjoyed having at least a day each to PROPERLY explore Martinsburg and visit both Antietam and Harpers Ferry. Or even come up with some noncommittal social chitchat.  Instead, I explain that I hadn't the time I wanted to for exploring, since it was so last minute – and shoehorned between two previous commitments -- that I wasn’t able to get anyone to drive down with me and share expenses. (And don't ask me WHAT POSSESSED ME to tell something that personal and embarrassing to a TOTAL STRANGER!)  Obviously, coffee or no coffee, the long full day with little sleep had finally caught up and fried my brain!

 

Bless him, he was very sweet about it (though I haven’t the slightest memory of precisely what was said), but I was still mortified—and likely embarrassed the poor fellow as well.  But it says something about the man that he is still close enough to where he came from to remember what it's like to have tight finances.

 

Trying to get the conversation back on track, I babbled something about liking 30s radio programs, and being glad to see radio plays like Return to Collinwood and the things done by LA Theaterworks.   This proved to be a conversational dead end, and the beginning of the crossed wires which ended our conversation. I was trying to follow his lead and pick up cues from him as to where this conversation would or would not go.  More importantly, since no one else was approaching to speak with him and bring the conversation to a natural end, when I should consider it at an end and excuse myself.   I THINK that’s where the conversation continued on about WV and he was telling me that 6 the next AM they were going to drive over to Morgantown  ("Where I'm from ...") and visit his Dad .  I don’t remember one way or the other, but I assume my manners were working and I told him I hoped they’d have a pleasant visit.  However at that point I was tired to the point of “the lights are on but nobody’s home”, coffee is NOT helping, and I am getting paranoid about what to say for fear it would end up sounding too rudely personal or too nosy about his personal life. I ended up just making some sort of sympathetic comments about their having to get up so early after this event. Looking back, I find myself hoping that the comment about the trip wasn’t an incredibly delicate hint for me to break off the conversation.

 

He then said something I couldn’t hear part of but I would still SWEAR I DID hear ”…introduce you to my wife…” which I certainly would not have expected – and which did not seem to be a hint for me to excuse myself. I made some polite remark about loving to meet her (from all accounts I’ve heard she’s as nice as her husband), and walked forward, his hand still on my waist.  Then I didn’t feel his hand anymore and he was somewhere behind me.  Winced, because I obviously misheard/misunderstood whatever he really said VERY BADLY and likely left the impression that I was being both clingy AND pushy hinting for an introduction to his wife! (Or, if I did hear what I thought, left him with the impression that I was rude and walked away without excusing myself or saying goodbye!)

 

Felt very awkward after this of course, so meandered away to get some appetizers then sat and people watched some more.  This pattern essentially held through what little was left of the evening. Then, at the very end of the night, another photo op, apparently arranged by the Falcon Crest fen.  I was standing in the general area when it happened, so I tried to get in and get some candids. Of course the usual problems happened of heads in the way, people turning just as you click your shutter, etc.

 

After the photo op finished, one of the FC group complimented me on the top I was wearing, and a small group of us started talking.  I mentioned to one lady that I had seen her in the hotel lobby when I arrived, and it turned out that this was Sandy, a mutual friend of not only Pam’s and Deb’s but of another friend, Sofie, from Sweden!  As we are all standing there chatting we were treated to a site both amusing and adorable.

 

David Selby, still speaking to someone, walking sideways as his wife has his hand and is pulling him gently towards the door!

 

We stayed and chatted a little longer (I don’t recall for certain but I believe Susan Sullivan had already left, and I was told by a third party that she and DS had shared a good night kiss), then we all headed out to our various cars.

At the hotel I ran into Sandy, and a couple, Ilene and Michael, who were at the reception as well.  We all chatted for a while in the lobby, then Sandy left and I was talking to Ilene and Michael, who had come up from Atlanta for this.  In discussing the fact that my cable co does not carry Soapnet, it came out that the couple is originally from Co-Op City in the Bronx, 10 minutes from where I live!  We continued chatting about various and sundry things, and I was telling Michael about seeing Dr. Selby at the Dark Shadows Festival, and how much respect I had for him for the way he conducted himself with the huge crowds at all his autograph sessions.  Michael was quite surprised at the crowds the Festivals still attract, and was unaware that the show had been running on Scifi for the past 10 years. 

 

We talked a little longer in the lobby before going back to our respective rooms.  Needless to say thoroughly keyed up from the nights events, I scurried to write down as much as possible of what happened so I wouldn’t forget, then finally got to sleep around 3.

Part 5 (Conclusion): The Voyage Home

@2003 by JMW No part of this article may be reprinted in any form without prior written permission from JMW

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