another update on 826 and Lemony Snicket

Josh beat me to the punch on this one, reporting on the fabulous literary event at Bumbershoot last night. But since I was working behind the scenes, I thought I’d add these little vignettes:

–Since I’m a volunteer at 826 Seattle, I showed up at McCaw Hall at 5:45 to stuff flyers into envelopes, so we could shove them into the hands of 3000 people. Most of them were already lined up outside the hall, reading copies of The New Yorker and peering at each other through hipster glasses. Hundreds of people lined up for a literary reading, two hours early? Cool!

Dave Eggers’ piece about the little spiders of the heart lining, coming out to weave a web of connection between the teacher and student, deeply felt and gorgeous, all told through the perspective of an Irish setter, actually made me cry. Way to go, Dave.

–Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) was possibly the funniest emcee I’ve ever heard. During the rigged quiz show, he asked a young boy, “What celebrity is not a member of Death Cab for Cutie, but it would be so cool if they were!?!!”
The young boy hemmed and hawed, then said, “Tom Cruise?”
“No. You are wrong,” answered Handler. “The answer is Toni Morrison.”

–At the end of the quiz show, Handler made an impassioned and hilarious plea for people to stuff cash into the little envelopes on their laps. “Seattle 826 volunteers will be coming among you to collect your donations. And have you seen these Seattle volunteers? They are hot!” This made it a little awkward for me to walk among people, demanding donations, while they checked out to see if he was right.

–We rushed backstage to count cash, as Death Cab (thinly disguised as Transatlantic Orchestra) played onstage. I was sorry to miss them, but we could hear them through the tinny speakers in the green room. After all, we had money to count. Daniel Handler, in his tuxedo, ran among us, then stopped beside me. “Didn’t I say these Seattle volunteers are hot?” Good lord, Lemony Snicket is flirting with me! Later, as I ripped open envelopes and stacked up twenties in piles so high they almost toppled over, he kept coming back to talk to me. We bantered about “69 Love Songs” (did you know that Lemony Snicket played accordion for Magnetic Fields?) and talked about the show. Lemony Snicket is my new best friend!

–Within a few moments, in barely contained chaos, we reached a tabulation. $18,000! The good people of Seattle gave us $18,000!

–After counting cash, I didn’t really have anything else to do. We were all too dazed to figure out what to do next. So I figured I could go. But I couldn’t remember my way out, because I had been led through a maze of doors and hallways with Lemony Snicket by my side. So I wandered down a hallway that looked like it might be right, and found myself…..nearly onstage. I was on stage right, with about ten stage hands and two other 826 volunteers. I caught the end of “Hungry Like the Wolf,” then stood there grinning as Sarah Vowell, Lemony Snicket, Dave Eggers, and all the members of Death Cab for Cutie came offstage, triumphant and smiling, to give me high fives for just being there.

I love this town.

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