Kayla and I had made it to the Dallas Comic Con. We were waiting to get inside and the wind had picked up. In the shade of one of the lower levels of the parking garage, we were freezing. For some idiotic reason, I continued to drink my iced coffee. If there was snow, I could have believed we were in the North Pole. I had already seen elves, so why not? Teeth were chattering. Snot was freezing to the mustache (my sister’s, not mine). When would this misery end?
“Early entry, come on. Have your tickets out. Let’s go. Easy. Easy. Easy.” One of the security guys started to shout orders. My beaming heart began to warm my insides. I could move, and I was excited to do so. As I moved pass the security guard I realized he was wearing a kilt. As the carnival barker of instruction, I knew I would see him again. He was a short man. He wore a grey flecked goatee and a matching ponytail. His hair was pulled through the back of his ball cap. The bill of the cap rested on the tops of coke bottle lenses. He may not have looked like it, but he was in charge. Jovial and smiling one minute then stern and vigilant the next. If you did not follow the rules he set before you, you would be leaving the convention without a refund.
We passed through the double doors and were directed to a ticket booth. After showing our tickets to one of the Con volunteers, they issued us our wrist bands and passes which hung around our necks. After leaving the line for passes and bands, we were hurried like cattle to another line. In this line we received instructions about our passes. We were then moved to yet another line. This was the final admissions line. As I said, there was a lot of hurry up and wait at the convention. There was another element Kayla and I would soon become familiar with as well.
When we were finally admitted into the actual event, we then stood in yet another line to buy some convention exclusive merchandise. A line formed at the register, but then the people taking money decided they did not like the way this line was formed. They changed it, but did so without anyone having the opportunity to move. So, while Kayla and I were third in line, when they changed it, we were out of line all of a sudden. This was frustrating. When we made it back into line, the credit card machines failed. The lack of planning and failure of electronics was the other problem. The staff was beginning to lose ground with attendees and it wasn’t going to be the last time.
There were so many celebrities to meet. Doctor Who related cast members were Alex Kingston (River Song), John Barrowman (Captain Jack Harkness), and the Sixth Doctor himself (Colin Baker). Mr. Barrowman and Ms. Kingston also represented cast members of hit television show Arrow, along with David Ramsey (John Diggle), and the star of the entire event, Stephen Amell (Oliver Queen/Green Arrow). The celebrities were in for a busy weekend as well. They were going to be speaking at panels and taking photos with fans at designated times. The rest of their time would be spent signing autographs.
The two day event bled together, so I really can’t tell you this happened on Saturday and that happened on Sunday, but what I can share is a few highlights, as well as two unforgettable events.
-When Alex Kingston signed the River Song Sonic Screwdriver I purchased earlier in the day, she commented on my tattoos and asked to touch my arms (maybe it’s a British thing). Later, when I arrived to have my photo taken with her, she said, “There’s my tattooed man.” I turned into a small child and had to take baby steps to stand beside her. We looked towards the camera and she said, “Smile, Sweetie.” This made me giggle internally and squee with delight.
-John Barrowman was the first autograph my sister and I sought after. As she noticed him sitting at his table a mere twenty feet away, my sister was about to die. She was afraid she would get in front of him and be unable to speak. To put her mind at ease, I acted goofy and made her laugh. Eventually, she wagered I would not shake Mr. Barrowman’s hand and say the phrase, “Oh, Mylanta.” If I did this, she had to pay the fee for him to sign my Captain Jack action figure. Not only did I say it, but he also said it, to my sister, who melted on the spot. I met Mr. Barrowman for a photo opportunity later the same day. Right before the photographer pushed the button, Mr. Barrowman yelled, “Man Hug!” and, well, hugged me. My sister was so jealous.
-The Fire Marshall shut down the escalators right before John Barrowman’s panel. When we discovered this issue, Kayla and I were on the first floor. We needed to get to the fourth floor for the event. We found ourselves traveling by stairs in corridors we were likely not supposed to be in. Kayla wanted nothing more than to see this man speak live, and I was going to do all in power to make this happen. We snuck past security like two ninjas on a mission, thankful not to be caught.
-Stephen Amell is a rising star. Aside from being the lead on Arrow, he recently signed on for the sequel to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He has conducted a few online campaigns to raise money for Cancer research and is planning a campaign to raise funds and awareness for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. When I arrived at his autograph table, I made a point to take the time and thank him. As someone who has lost a father to Cancer and currently copes with PTSD, his work is both inspiring and valuable. After I explained why his work was important, he did not say thank you. Instead, he asked how I was doing. He took the time and allowed the crowd and lines of fans to disappear to ask how I was doing. I explained I was coping well, but the large crowd was a bit taxing. He instructed me to breathe deeply and slowly. His advice was not unknown to me, but at the time, it was nice to be reminded of two things. First, I am not the only one who faces this problem, and second, celebrities are people, too. They deal with the same anxieties and frustrations we all do.
-Colin Baker is best known as portraying Doctor Who. He was the sixth actor within official Who cannon to do so. Of all the Doctors he is known as the only one to be fired from the job. When he spoke at his panel, he addressed this topic as an English gentleman; he did not bad mouth anyone involved. During one of the other panel discussions, I found myself wondering around the autograph hall. The giant room was almost deserted because of the ongoing panel and photograph sessions. I saw Mr. Baker sitting alone. “Mr. Baker, how are you today?” I asked.
“I am well young man. How are you?” He replied.
I stretched out an open hand and he shook it. “It is an honor to meet you Mr. Baker,” I said.
“Please, call me Colin. Would you care to sit down?” He gestured to an open seat next to his. When I sat down next to one of my heroes, it felt as if I was out of my own body. I was standing there beside the table, watching someone who looked like me sit down. “Where are you from?” Colin asked (yes we are on a first name basis now).
“I drove here from Lubbock. It’s a city near the panhandle.” I replied
“I know of it. It took you, what five or six hours to get here?” Colin knew his maps.
“It took about that long, but it was worth the trip to meet you and shake your hand.” I could not believe I had just said that. I sounded like such a fan.
“It took me a little longer to get here from England, but I have enjoyed myself. Meeting fans such as yourself brings me great joy.” He was genuine as he spoke.
He asked a lot about me. We spoke about my family and LCU. He wanted to see pictures of my children. I also showed him pictures of our beautiful campus. We talked for about twenty or thirty minutes. He offered to have his assistant take a photo of us. This was such a nice gesture because photos with the celebrity guest were set up through a company and had to be purchased. After such a pleasant conversation, he said he didn’t want to charge his friend money for a simple picture. His assistant used my cell phone to take the picture and I was on my way. The panel discussion was over, and people were starting to line up to get his autograph.
After all the fun and excitement died down, Kayla and I could look back on the weekend with fondness. After spending so much time apart, years of texts and phone calls, we finally caught up with one another. I could tell you the weekend was all about photos and autographs, of panel discussions and $10 hotdogs, but that would not be true. That weekend was about family and reconnection. It was about spending time with one of the most important people in my life. Our father is gone, but we have each other. We depend on one another from afar. We laughed until it hurt. We hugged until we cried. We said good-bye, but promised to do meet again soon. ‘Years’ is a measurement of time neither one of us wanted to use when describing how long it had been since we had seen one another.
Through my tale of adventure, remember this my fellow Chaps, family is important. Take the time to let your loved ones know how much they mean to you.