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Andy Garcia and me

The AARP Life@50+ Expo has come and gone, and I must say it far exceeded my expectations. So much to see and do and learn.

Though the connections made — and the dogs met — were delightful and well worth the trip, my favorite experience there was hands down the Movies for Grownups screening of “At Middleton,” which stars Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga.

You may recall the trailer for the film, included in this post here. (And if you don’t recall the trailer or didn’t watch it then, go watch it. Seriously.)

You may also recall from that post that I mentioned Andy Garcia would be at the screening. Which he was.

After the lovely movie that I enjoyed from beginning to end, Andy Garcia, along with Adam Rodgers and Glenn German — co-writers of the sweet story of two parents who meet during their children’s college tour — took the stage for an “At Middleton” Q&A session with the audience.

Mike wranglers roamed the crowd, giving those in attendance the chance to ask questions. I so wanted to ask who chose the musical selections integral to the story, having seen Arturo Sandoval’s name in the beginning credits (whom Andy Garcia played in a 2000 HBO film on Sandoval). But… though I can write for crowds, I sure as heck can’t speak in front of crowds. At all.

So I kept my mouth shut, listened to others and shot frame after frame of the handsome men on stage.

Then the topic of distribution of the independent film and support for it came up. Suddenly there was some mention of the support for the film on a site called Grandma’s Briefs, with Andy Garcia saying something about there being a special request and… something else I can’t remember at all because I somehow found myself standing and waving my arms and declaring to the men on the stage, That’s me, I’m Grandma’s Briefs!

And then Andy Garcia asked me to come up front.

Oh, <cuss>! I said in my head.

“Oh, no,” I said out loud.

I quickly asked the gentleman behind me to please take my camera and get some photos, someone thrust a microphone into my hand (Here, take this!) and I headed up front.

Right into the arms of Andy Garcia.

Unbelievable.

I wanted to say, “Wow! What a wonderful, touching film!”

I wanted to say, “You are a good, good man, Mr. Garcia!” (I think he is. In part because he and his wife have been married as long as Jim and I, and his family is top priority. Need more? Google him.)

And I wanted to say — once we hugged and I melted into his unbelievably soft jacket that simply felt like home — “Gee whiz! Let’s just stay right here and hug all freakin’ day!”

I didn’t say any of those things.

Instead, I said, “The other grandmas are going to be so jealous!” Yes, at that very special moment, I thought of you all.

Andy Garcia kissed me on the forehead, he thanked me for my support. And I just babbled: “Thank you, thank you, thank YOU….”

(As I mentioned, I can’t speak for <cuss> in front of crowds.)

But Mr. Garcia was kind and seemingly genuine as he hugged me again — comfy, cozy hugs that, well, just felt like home. And we posed for pictures.

Then I somehow managed my way back to my seat — after a quick hug to Sue, the PR rep taking photos… whom I also thanked profusely. The gentleman who used my camera gave it back, I thanked him several times, as well, then I sat back down and tried to stop shaking.

A few questions from the audience later — what the Q was or the A that followed, I couldn’t tell ya — then the whole thing was over. Just like that.

Poof!

Surreal.

When the lights came up and the crowd began exiting, the first thing I did was dial my husband. It’s the normal response when a long-time married woman hugs another man, right? Tell your husband?

I simply had to share with Jim.

And Jim was immediately jealous — jealous that he didn’t get to hug Andy Garcia!

But as he always is, my husband was thrilled for me.

“Was it a good hug?” he asked, as he and I put a lot of stock in a person’s hug, agree that so much of one’s character is revealed in their hugs.

I confirmed that it was.

And it certainly was.

Such a wonderful hug from a good, good man.

One truly unexpected, truly unforgettable moment.

Thank you, Andy Garcia.

Lisa Carpenter

Lisa Carpenter is a freelance writer, most often for Grandparents.com, NextAvenue and The Huffington Post. She blogs at Grandma’s Briefs. One of her posts, “The grandma in a box,” was named the 2013 BlogHer Voices of the Year People’s Choice selection in the humor category.

Reflections of Erma