Misadventures with Famous People: Part 1

I have talked about my love of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on this blog before and much more extensively if you’ve ever met me in person. Probably too much. No, definitely too much. I can’t help it though. I’m hopelessly addicted to that show even though it hasn’t been on the air in over ten years.

So last November when I had the chance to go to the Austin, TX Comic-Con and meet James Marsters, the actor who played fan-favorite vampire Spike, I ran around the house squealing like a three-year-old for several hours. All that enthusiasm was before I realized that I shouldn’t be allowed near famous people.

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Be prepared for me to shake your hand your hand way too many times.

The Comic-Con started the day I got home from school for the winter break. My dad had somehow scored me a couple of three day passes. I never know exactly how he does these things. He says he has connections, but I think that connection is to the Dark Lord because he has nabbed tickets to events that certainly required some kind of sacrifice and incantation.

I missed out on the Friday event because of my late flight, but I woke up early on Saturday morning, ready to get my nerd on. It was the first time I had ever driven to downtown Austin on my own before. I had always been deeply terrified of driving in big cities, but there are very few things that would keep me away from TV vampires.

I said TV vampires, Sparkleface.

I said TV vampires, Sparkleface.

I found my way to the Austin Convention Center after half an hour of white knuckling my steering wheel. I have never been to a convention like that before so I strolled in an hour before the doors opened thinking I was super ahead of the game only to walk into an intimidating sea of excited costumed fans. Wolverines and Jokers and Thors as far as the eye could see.

I found the booth that held my pass and made my way onto the convention floor an hour early with the rest of the VIPs. (Witchcraft. I’m convinced of it.) I walked around looking at all the booths and admiring the beautiful artwork I could never afford. Great framed works by Alex Ross that left me in awe, in equal parts by the beautiful depictions of the Justice League of America and the multi-thousand dollar price tags.

Justice-League-Alex-Ross

Some people want Picassos. I want this on my walls.

I bought myself a few trinkets. And then stood in line at James Marster’s autograph booth which I was assured he would make an appearance at by 11:30. I was third in line and shaking with anticipation as I waited for the next hour. I flipped through the convention schedule, making note of the events I wanted to see: The Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode screening, a talk on 75 years of Batman, and James Marster’s Q&A.

I stood quietly, scanning the faces of everyone who came even close to the autograph booth in hopes that it would be Mr. Marsters, but it never was. I marveled at the fact that I was as tall as Lou Ferrigno who stood a few booths over. I felt pretty cool. Sure he had biceps the size of my head, but I was as tall as the freaking Hulk, man.

Let's go, punk. You aint got nothing on me.

Let’s go, punk. You aint got nothing on me.

The autograph line filled up to bursting right before 11:30 and then stayed that way for twenty more minutes. Excited chatter about favorite “Buffy” episodes or “Torchwood” memories turned to questions of would he make it in time. His photo booth started in ten minutes and his Q&A was twenty minutes after that. Slowly people slipped away to go to his photobooth or shake hands with the Karate Kid at a different booth.

I stubbornly waited, hoping he’d show, but he never did.

But in the booth next to his sat Erica Durance, “Smallville’s” Lois Lane and my future wife, and my heart kind of exploded in my chest. I didn’t know she was going to be there, lot less twenty feet away from me.

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Do you have a piece of kryptonite in your purse? Because my knees just got weak.

I walked over with the sweaty palms of a seventh grader asking his crush to dance at the spring fling. I practiced what I would say, deciding not to recite to her the poems I wrote for her when I was fifteen. I figured I wanted to at least wait until the end of the weekend before we started breaking out the restraining orders.

I bought a photo of her for her to sign and slid down the line until we were face to face. She smiled and I cried a little bit. I tried to say some words. I didn’t care if they were sentences or not. I just wanted words out there. Hopefully something more eloquent than, “You. Pretty. Me. Lonely.” But I just made sounds at her face.

We shook hands and I laughed at myself, apologizing for my awkwardness saying, “Man, I really thought I’d get a full sentence out before I started speaking gibberish.” To which she replied, “Oh that’s ok. I speak gibberish all the time.”

And then we ran away together and got married and she would call me her Superman every time I made chicken alfredo pizzas for dinner. Or I blushed so hard that my knees got weak and I had to run away. Probably the second one.

That could have been me.

That could have been me.

Check in next week for more mishaps from my Austin Comic-Con adventures.

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Maybe An Apocalypse Sounds Good After All

The more people ask me what I’m going to do now that I’ve graduated college, the more I realize just how much I was banking on that whole 2012 apocalypse thing.I don’t think I did the best planning for life after turning 20.

I’m not saying that I believed in the whole Mayan prophecy thing, but part of me totally believed the whole Mayan prophecy. This was not the rational or even coherent part of me. This was the part of me that also often battles the fear of ghosts and enjoys watching “Pawn Stars.”

I'm not sure which creeps me out  more: ghosts or those chins.

I’m not sure which creeps me out more: ghosts, the end of the world, or those chins. I think they’re all connected, to be honest.

When I was in high school, I would laugh at the doomsday prophets, but deep down I was doing the math. I’d be cleaning the bathroom when I would get that glazy eyed thousand yard stare and wonder, “If the world really does end in 2012, how old will I be?” 20 years old. So I started planning for what I could accomplish by the time I turned twenty and subconsciously forgetting that, “hey, maybe you should figure out what’s going to happen when you turn 21 or 25. Because you know, the world was not going to end you dumbass.”

Even on December 20, 2012 I kept walking around thinking, “The world might end today.” I wasn’t quaking in my boots or anything. I was stocking up my End of Days bunker although I did happen to have a ton of cans of tuna at home. Just in case. I kind of felt like I should do the whole “Last day on Earth” hoopla. Carpe that diem. Do all the things I’d always wanted to do. You know, just in case. But I looked around my room and realized that I did have a bitchin’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer collection so I felt accomplished enough to take a nap.

I was a little surprised to wake up on December 21. The new year came and it felt weird to see dates that said 2013. I mean, John Cusak made a movie about how I was going to die. It takes some time to recover from that. But after a day or two the shock of living in this world that shouldn’t exist wore off and I went on being a normal person who wasn’t crazy. And it was refreshing.

Damn you, Cusack! Didn't you hurt me enough with "Must Love Dogs?"

Damn you, Cusack! Didn’t you hurt me enough with “Must Love Dogs?”

Until I graduated college and realized that those decisions I made when I thought I was gonna die at twenty had to carry to being an adult. I mean, it’s not like I went on some crazy meth bender or robbed seventeen banks in Missouri. To be honest, for someone who kind of thought the world was ending, I lived a remarkably boring life. I ate a lot of pizza. Probably should have done a few more push-ups.But now it seems that I have to make my little foray into art school actually payoff and that fact has a tendency to stop me in my tracks.

Every once in a while I’ll just stare off into the distance as I do the dishes and think, “I spent how much money getting a writing degree?! Why would I do that?!”

It’s hard coming back home and being showered with questions like “So what are you going to do now?” and “What does one do with a writing degree?” I sit at home and read Aquaman comic books. That’s what I do with a writing degree.

Who needs a plan for the future when you can spend all day pretending to be the king of the ocean?

Who needs a plan for the future when you can spend all day pretending to be the king of the ocean?

I want to come up with grand, oddball plans when I get these questions. “Oh, I’m moving to Spain to become a bull fighter.” Or, “I’m going to reshoot the film ‘Free Willy’ on my iPhone with my neighbor’s cat.” But then I just feel bad in comparison when the real answer is much less exciting. “I’m just kind of seeing what comes my way. I tell people I’m writing a book but I’ve been stuck on chapter 16 since February.”

But the funny thing is that I haven’t stopped fearing the end of the world. I just think I’m living in it now. I keep worrying that my world is falling apart around me, because I don’t have a plan for what comes next. It’s not the end of the world, though, no matter how much easier that would make things. It’s the exact opposite actually. It’s just the start. And it’s time to no longer be content with just having a bitchin’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer collection.

My Imaginary Imaginary Friend

I never had an imaginary friend growing up but for about a week in fifth grade I pretended that I did.

One night I was just hanging out at home alone, because that’s what I did when I was ten. In between eating microwaved tv dinners and playing indoor baseball with balls of aluminum foil, I watched the Disney Channel Original Movie “Don’t Look under the Bed.”

Giving five-year-olds nightmares since 1999.

Giving five-year-olds nightmares since 1999.

The movie itself is a horribly terrifying story about a teenager and her little brother’s imaginary friend doing battle with a Boogeyman that is terrorizing her town. Apparently the movie was so disturbing to children that the Disney Channel was only allowed to air it during Halloween and slowly it just kind of disappeared. But the nightmares never went away.

Seriously Disney. WTF? I'm a grown man and I'm still terrified to turn out the lights after seeing this.

Seriously, Disney. WTF? I’m a grown man and I’m still terrified to turn out the lights after seeing this.

But while the people who ran the Disney Channel were drunk at the wheel, I was home alone watching this movie. Sure I slept with a bat by my bed for the next four years, but I was also noticing how large a role imaginary friends played in the movie. They were these fun-loving symbols of innocence, always there to protect and entertain little kids. They were these secret friends that only you could see and they cared about no one else but you. And for a ten-year-old sitting at home alone that was a really awesome idea.

The only problem was that I didn’t have an imaginary friend. Heck I didn’t have a real life friend either, but I’ll save that story for my much sadder memoir: “If Only My Hips Didn’t Lie -The Life and Trials of Shakira’s Number One Fan.”

So that night while I was fortifying my bedroom for the oncoming Boogeyman siege, I started creating my imaginary friend. I knew it was silly from the get-go. I had always thought that imaginary friends didn’t require so much active creation. They just kind of existed in children’s minds like adventure seeking hallucinations that loved to play hide and seek and didn’t require weekly visits to a child psychologist. I thought that if I had to actively create this person in my head that it was kind of cheating.

So over the course of the night, my imaginary friend went through about seventeen different revisions. I don’t remember any of the stupid names I created for these “people,” but it was either something ridiculous like Orbstutroth the Soul Crusher or like Jeff. But anyway, there were versions of Orbstutroth that liked skateboarding and had a pink mohawk and would rock out to Nickleback with me. Then I scrapped that idea and he became Kimberly and she was supposed to be my dream girl. She was the first female second baseman of the Atlanta Braves. She liked to mix Sprite with Diet Dr. Pepper and we were going to get married in the Death Star. But then that diddn’t stick either and I created someone new.

I never told my parents that I had an imaginary friend because I could barely keep up the charade on my own time. Every time I sat down to play Monopoly with Joey the Five-Star Grilled Cheese Chef or Rebecca the Exiled Princess of Candy Mountain I knew that I was really just talking to a chair. I didn’t really feel the need to bring my mom into that three ring circus of crazy.

But I still totally played entire games of Monopoly by myself.

But I still totally played entire games of monopoly by myself.

Eventually it just became to hard to pretend and I gave up on the whole idea of having an imaginary friend. As rewarding as it was to let my imagination run wild for a while, it wasn’t the fulfilling friendship I was wanting. I never really believed there was someone listening when I talked about my Dragon Ball Z theories or retold a classic Stephanie Tanner one-liner from a Full House re-run. At the end of the day I was just a bored kid who didn’t want to do his math homework.

But I would eventually make friends with kids from around the apartment complex where I lived. Sure they weren’t battle-tested Viking Warriors or secret werewolves, but they liked playing hide and seek and thought “How You Remind Me” was the defining song of our generation. They were real tangible kids who answered when you talked to them and laughed at the hilarious antics of 90’s sitcoms. Sure I don’t remember any of their names either, but, for a time, they were there. And that was enough for me.