The bookshop was mobbed with 007 aficionados on the night of his appearance and I was stuck in the back of the room. I stood on my toes and peered over a bookcase to see Moore, flanked by two bodyguards, enter the store through the back exit. He was smothered with cheers as he took his place behind the podium to take questions from the crowd.
“What was your least favorite Bond memory?” someone shouted out.
“Kissing Grace Jones in ‘A View to a Kill,’” the dapper actor replied.
“What is your favorite?” said another voice.
“Any moment when I didn’t have to kiss Grace Jones.”
After the Q&A, Moore was led to a table off to the side where he was to sign copies of his book. A snaking line formed and we were told a number of times that Mr. Moore was NOT signing anything except a purchased copy of his book. We also were not allowed to take pictures with the actor. I wonder if anyone else there saw the irony in James Bond’s two beefy bodyguards in trench coats at either end of the table.
I thought about how I should greet 007 as I waited on the sluggish line. Should I act like a villain and in some muddled European accent say: ‘Good evening Mr. Bond. So we meet again, but this time the pleasure is all mine.?’ Or should I be suave as Bond himself and, in a British accent, say: ‘The name’s Kindelmann. Matt Kindelmann.?’
The closer I got to Roger Moore, the more I studied the actor. He was 81, 23 years since he last played Bond. His face and hands were dotted with liver spots and his blue eyes and crow’s feet hid behind thick glasses. In his sports jacket, crisp white shirt, and red tie, he was an English gentleman, politely grinning and chitchatting with fans.
When I ultimately got up to him, I extended my hand and told him I him I enjoyed his Bond films. He shook my hand, said thank you with a smile, and signed my book. I was immediately struck by how he reminded me of my great-grandfather from England. His attire, his demeanor, even the feel of his hand all reminded me of my witty and chivalrous great-grandfather, Thomas Ellis, or Pop, who died at 101 year old when I was 14. Roger Moore reminding me of Pop supports the idea that there is a fine line between reality and fantasy.
Yes, Tommy the bartender was right. James Bond lives in a fantasy world of mission-ending explosions, scantily-clad women and cat-stroking villains inside of my head, but there was nothing wrong with me stopping by there for a martini every once in a while.
My video library of the Bond films, my tattered Ian Fleming paperbacks and the 007 marathons that TBS runs have all been part of an escape for me for the past 25 years. Unless James Bond has his license revoked, I foresee many more missions. No fictional character does it better.