In Which We Almost Met Pete the Cat

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[The Kid in his Groovy Buttons shirt.  "Where did Pete go?"]

Frequent visitors will know that one of the Kid's all-time favorite characters from literature is Pete the Cat.  This evening we came within a hair's breadth of meeting him, but just barely missed out.  The just-a-little-sad tale goes like this....

Several months ago, I noticed that Mr. Eric (the author of the Pete books), was speaking at a convention in Topeka.  A little checking-in with my favorite librarian confirmed that he would also be making an appearance at the library there.  I marked the date--today--on my calendar in neon letters.

The boys picked me up from work at 5, and we headed out for a special burger-and-fries dinner.  Then--with the Kid suitably attired in his Groovy Buttons shirt--it was time to head to the library.  

As we pulled into the parking lot, Sweet Husband and I looked at each other with wide eyes--there was a line stretching out the door and down the block.  We quickly joined at the end, wondering if we were going to make it inside before the fire safety limit had been reached.  

And that was when we saw him.  About half-way up the line, there was Pete the Cat himself.

Of course, it was just a man in a Pete the Cat costume, but the Kid was thrilled.  It looked like Pete was standing in the same place as the line walked past, so we patiently waited to make our way up to him.

Except that he didn't stay there.  When we were about 20 feet away, he gave a big wave and headed inside.  "It's OK," I reassured the Kid, "We'll find him after we listen to Mr. Eric sing."

We never saw Pete again.

Eventually, we did get inside.  And Mr. Eric put on a great show.  By the end, even the Kid--who doesn't necessarily enjoy big, noisy crowds--was smiling and clapping.

But Pete had just disappeared.  We poked around some, and I even asked a few different library staffers if they knew where Pete had gone.  But no one seemed to know what the plan was as far as Pete's post-show whereabouts.  It was as if he'd been kidnapped by a rival children's author.

I don't know who was more sad, me or the Kid.  (Probably me, let's be real.)  

We toyed with the idea of sticking around for an autograph from Mr. Eric, but what interest can a mere mortal have when you've been that close to an imagined figure?  (And besides, the line was a mob.)

Instead, we ended up leaving just a little disappointed.  Today will go down in the family annals as the day we almost met Pete the Cat.