I just heard about Stan Lee’s passing and I wanted to share how I met him.
Oct. 5, 2010: I was sitting a few rows behind first class on a Virgin flight from LAX to NYC (I was already obsessed with LA). We were about 45 minutes away from landing and I saw an older gentleman in first class look across the aisle. Immediately I knew it was Stan Lee, but I couldn’t believe it. My role model, my distant mentor, the legend, was a mere 15 feet away from me. I wasn’t starstruck, I was godstruck. I quickly called to the flight attendant and asked her to confirm it was actually him. Part of me was hoping it wasn’t because I was completely unprepared. Confirmed.
I asked her (in a pleading tone) to ask Stan if he wouldn’t mind waiting for me in the terminal. She seemed hesitant to bother him, but I gave her additional motivation. I told her to, “Please tell Stan that I work for Marvel Comics Talent as an official Spider-Man event actor.” It was good enough.
As she asked him, I studied his body language from a distance so I would know the answer before she told me. Being how golden-hearted Stan is, I knew it was a yes.
Assuming he had places to be, I asked the three rows in front of me if they could stay seated so I could chase after him. Everyone agreed (this is before I had my dogs, so it was much easier to move around the plane). I ran off the plane as fast as I could and there he was, standing in the terminal, waiting for not just me, but 3-year-old me as well.
When I saw Stan in the flesh, my body simply couldn’t process what was happening. I had all the signs of a panic attack: rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, blurry vision—that I did a full sprint to make sure I wouldn’t miss him didn’t help. Standing right before me was the creator of my most favorite thing in the world since I was 3 years old: Spider-Man. This was a meeting 25 years in the making courtesy of fate (and more evidence that good things happen from traveling).
What I thought I told Stan was:
“Mr. Lee—you have no idea how much I appreciate everything you’ve created. You are a god to me. Like you, and like Peter Parker, I’m also a Jewish kid from Forest Hills, Queens. Isn’t that so crazy? Spider-Man has been part of my life since I was 3 years old. My dad bought me my first Spider-Man comic when I was 7: Spider-Man #2 when he battled the Lizard. Such a great storyline. Now I dress up as Spider-Man for your Marvel Comics Talent division, as well as in my personal time for fun, and I always knew that we would meet one day.”
Waiting for him to be impressed with my story of dedication and love for his creation, he responded:
“I’m sorry; I don’t understand anything you just said. Can you say it again and please slow down this time?”
I couldn’t slow down. I couldn’t compose myself. I was a blabbering idiot. My brain and my mouth would not communicate. But there was one thing I could do: put my arm around him, embrace the moment as well as Stan, shut up and smile.
After we took the pic I cried some of the happiest tears of my life in the airport bathroom. I couldn’t believe it. I got to meet Spider-Man.
Thank you for everything, Stan. Thank you for your contributions that affect almost every child in the world. I’ve seen children in remote villages of Cambodia and Vietnam proudly wearing Spider-Man apparel and doing their best poses. When I dressed up as Spider-Man in Taiwan, every child completely lit up and I fully understood it. I just FaceTimed this week with a 5-year-old Spider-Man fan in Thailand. I may not be able to speak the same language as these children, but the fantasy world you created gave us a platform to communicate through. Spider-Man’s web-shot hand is just as well-known as a thumbs up.
Stan: The world already misses you. “Nuff said.”
Originally published on Adam’s blog, Be Free My Sheeple.
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