I’m tired. I’ve slept a lot the last couple of days, but the fatigue that I gathered on Saturday is still heavy and not quite worn away. It was a big weekend for me. I faced crowds, heat, and noise to enjoy one beautiful day. It was a day that I probably will never forget. It was a day I wasn’t sure I wanted or would be able to handle. It was one amazing day.
Because I met George Takei.
The Blusterous Adventures of Planet Comicon 2013
To start at the beginning, I have to explain that I did not go to Planet Comicon alone. This is important because if I had gone by myself, I probably never would have made it through the doors. PCC is the largest gathering of geeks and nerds in the Midwest, and there are thousands of people from all over the heartland gathered there to meet their celebrity favorites and scour the booths for the perfect piece of their collection. I’ve never been a big con fan, and in the past, I’ve never been entirely sure why I wanted to go to them.
It just seemed like the thing to do.
So, Friday night, before the Con, I drove down to Springfield to pick up my brother (AxiomXIII), if for no other reason than I like to drive and I needed a wingman. A friend of ours is getting married this weekend, and PCC was a bachelor party of sorts for him. I had to go. I couldn’t back out. The downside of this is that when you get any geeks together, especially geeks as close as Axiom and I, they tend to spend waaaaaaaaaaaay too much time talking about geekdoms. So, I found myself picking my brother up and 9:30 at night, and then going to meet a friend of ours on what was supposed to be a quick errand. We ended up doing our geekout thing and not leaving Springfield until well after midnight.
From Springfield, MO to Kansas City, Mo is a two-and-a-half hour drive. That meant that it was close to three in the morning by the time we pulled up to my house in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately, we had pre-ordered our tickets, so we had an inclination that we would be okay only being a little early the next day. That meant I would be able to get a few good hours of sleep if we didn’t stay up another couple of hours talking.
I think I finally managed to get to sleep somewhere around four. It was a deep, heavy sleep, and it was cut short when Axiom woke me up around seven-thirty the next morning. We slowly pulled ourselves together and started to head downtown. We were already unsure if we should continue our trek on such little sleep, but we went ahead and drove into the city.
From my home to Downtown KC is roughly an hour drive. By the time we got to the heart of the city, it was clear that we should have left my house sometime around when we went to bed the night before. The streets were full, and by shear luck, we were able to find a parking garage not that far from the Convention Center. We only had to walk a couple of blocks, which was nice.
I realized as we got there, that another bit of luck struck that I hadn’t gone and picked up my ticket voucher the day before. While it was still only about a 1000th the size of the “people who bought their tickets last minute” line, the “people with ticket vouchers” line was enormous compared to the standard by name Will-Call line. Even better, Axiom was able to get both of our tickets.
This I see as a little reward for the fact that i had let an elderly couple get in line ahead of me and was back quite a ways from him. Fortune favored us all day on Saturday.
We put on our wristbands and headed down to the line to get in, realizing we had come in on the wrong side of the building and would have to walk all the way around to the end of a pretty long (though fast moving) line. We rounded the corner of the hall, and bumped into our friends. They snagged us up and we were in pretty quickly. Sorry to all of those people we just cut in front of. Fortunately, this line just needed to walk past a checkpoint holding their wristbands up to be seen. It was fast, easy and done.
We walked about the con, and my anxiety levels kept creeping up, but every time they did, my brother would just distract me, or my friends would point out something cool. We just wandered around for a bit. I had gone to PCC wanting to meet George Takei and Wil Wheaton. Both of them were already there and signing, but both had giant, crammed lines. I almost gave up, when Axiom pointed out that waiting in line wasn’t really any different than wandering around, and that George Takei might not be around much longer.
I have to admit, that just standing in line and shooting the shit with my brother went by really fast. I guess there is some benefit to geek talk time warping, because before long, we were at the front. We walked up, I gave the man my money and got a picture to have signed. Axiom got his put together, too. He even asked if he could have it made out to AxiomXIII, which everyone seemed totally cool with.
As we got closer, I got very nervous, I mean, what do you say to GEORGE TAKEI? Especially since the man is by far and away cooler than anyone can imagine. He was conversing with the older woman in front of me, and not a smile and nod response to her conversation, but a real conversation. He was actually so engrossed in the conversation that his handler had to tap him on the shoulder and tell him to move through people faster. He just smiled and finished his conversation and waved as she left.
He pulled my picture to him and began to sign, saying, “Seems like the dogs are nipping at my heels.”
I have to admit I had celebrity shock. I didn’t know what to say, so I just said, “Well, I won’t waste your time, then. I’m just really excited to meet you.”
“Nonsense! I’m here to waste my time,” he smiled his George Takei smile. “It’s what these things are for.”
He signed my picture and slid it over to me. I stepped aside and took my brother’s phone, snapping some pictures of him meeting George. He looked down at the little post it noted with the name, and said in his melodious voice, “Axiom X the Third?”
“Axiom Thirteen,” my brother pointed out, “But I like that better, I think.”
George laughed, and signed it.
“Thank you for doing this,” Axiom said.
George just responded with, “No, thank you for supporting things like this.”
I couldn’t stop myself from blurting out, “George Takei is the only reason to be on Facebook.” I felt stupid saying it, but all three of us chuckled about it and Axiom and I waved as we walked away.
“I met George Takei,” I announced beaming when we met our friends just outside the line. “The wait wasn’t even that long!”
Apparently we’d been in line over an hour, but it had felt like just a few minutes. I clung to my picture like it was a magical treasure. It’s sitting on my desk right now. I intend to frame it. Axiom commented that he’d get his framed and leave it on his desk to ask, “What do you think, George?” When he was working on something.
After that, our friends went to wait in line to meet the creators of Walking Dead, and Axiom and I went to save seats for Wil Wheaton’s panel. We go there really early and caught Nicholas Brendon and Clare Kramer’s Buffy Panel, which turned out to be great. I was glad we did, because as their panel wound down, the room filled with people there to see Wil Wheaton. We had managed to save the seats for our friends, but even then we were crowded in.
When Wil came out, he was on fire. He did a story telling set that felt like any good stand up comic. I thought, “This man is a damn genius,” and longingly wished I had a bottle of water every time he took a drink. It was hot in that room.
Wil was amazing. He was every bit as cool on stage as he is on the internet. Axiom and I both wanted to meet him, but after his talk, he wouldn’t be back at his table until close to 4, and our group was hungry. My crowd tolerances were running on extra low reserves, so we all took off for lunch and Axiom and I headed home. We both knew that this wouldn’t be our last chance to meet Wil Wheaton, and I made it a goal to be able to meet him in a more direct setting than at a convention.
I just have to get as good as John Scalzi, then I can be on Table Top!
Our geekdom fueled by the joy of meeting a living legend, we fell back into our stupor of conversation, and before I knew it, I was driving him home. I dropped him off with his family, happily running on Joy, and headed to the long drive home myself.
A few hours later, I crashed down in my bed, exhausted. I was happy.
I had a memory that would last a lifetime.
I met George Takei.