It’s been that sort of a mean and insane day (well, one of too many to count), but let’s skim to the memory bank, happier times wing for a spell. I actually have three Stan Lee stories, but two of them are less “stories” and more “sightings” in that sort of “Hey, is that Stan Lee?” followed by someone saying “No it’s not… wait a minute… Oh yeah! It’s Stan Lee!” followed by a “Hi, Stan!” if he was within a few feet inside not quite yelling distance. Boring, mundane, nothing special, THE END.
Now, the third Stan Lee story isn’t mine at all, actually. It was told to me maybe 25 years ago by a friend of a friend and it struck me as a pretty amusing anecdote about Lee being the biggest of people in the smallest of spaces.
Anyway, back around 1982 or ’83 (although one retelling noted this may have happened in 1981, but I doubt that because that was the year Lee moved to California), the FoF was attending a comic convention where he’d heard rumors of Stan making an appearance at some point. He was sharing a hotel room with six other people and on the second day, he and five of the roomies decided to crawl out of bed after a night of partying for an early breakfast before the con got underway. The seventh person was a heavy sleeper, so it was decided that someone in the breakfast club would get something to go for Snoozy McBoozy to nosh on.
Anyway, the six got into an elevator and as they’re discussing the whole continental breakfast options thing, *Ding!* the elevator stops two floors down, the doors open and guess who’s standing there? Yep. Smilin’ Stan gets on the elevator with two other people, looks around the car, notes that everyone is up so early then asks how they’re doing and if they’re all enjoying themselves. The FoF noted that everyone was so wide-eyed and thrilled that no one spoke. They just started nodding and grinning until one guy chimed in with a loud “I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M TALKING TO STAN LEE!”‘ Stan didn’t miss a beat, noting that he was actually the only other person who’d spoken up to that point, which caused the FoF to burst out laughing somewhat nervously.
Stan chuckled and still smiling, pointed at the FoF, noting “See, he gets it!” which got the FoF to blurt out something about getting a No-Prize for his efforts. Suddenly, Stan pointed up to the car’s ceiling and said “It’s on the way!” followed by a hearty “Excelsior!” which had everyone on the car cracking up just as “Ding!” the elevator reached the lobby. Now, this would have been THE END of this story as the fans and The Man parted and went their separate ways. However, the FoF noted that some guy in the lobby, an early riser who was sitting on one of the lobby’s sofas with a box of comics, looked up just as everyone was piling out if the elevator. As Lee zipped by headed to a ride of some sort waiting outside, the comic guy tried to flag him down to no avail before turning to the FoF and his pals asking if that was indeed, Stan Lee.
The FoF shook his head and said it it wasn’t Lee at all, but a guy who was a dead ringer for him, as his pals all agreed with one noting that was why they all came out of the elevator laughing. I recall asking after hearing the story why the ruse and the FoF said that they all wanted to preserve that brief memory of Stan for themselves without having it ruined by someone outside their circle. Of course, their sleeping pal upstairs missed out entirely on the memory, but at least he awoke to a hearty breakfast, clueless until a bit later in the day as to what transpired.