On Rediscovering My People
Like most people I misspent my teens and early 20s. However, instead of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, it was Renaissance Faires, SciFi Conventions, Dungeons and Dragon and weekly Magic the Gathering game nights. There might have been a little sex in there but for a stretch my chaotic neutral half elf mage was getting more play than I was.
Then I got into graduate school and moved across the planet to a city that has only one comic/anime/science fiction convention a year. The first couple of years I was simply too exhausted to go. Then my work schedule clashed. Then last year I just forgot. Not this year. Oh no. Mark Sheppard was scheduled to speak. And if you think you don’t know him you probably do. If you watch TV there are very good odds you’ve seen him at least once because he’s been in everything. For me personally the draw was that he was Badger in Firefly, Crowley in Supernatural, Romo Lampkin in Battlestar Galactica and Canton Delaware in Doctor Who. The man is a walking nerdgasium. I was not going to miss this.
On the morning of the con, my first one in several years I woke up early and did something odd. I didn’t get into costume. I didn’t even put on one of my nerdier t-shirts. I just dressed nicely and for the weather. I was expecting to get to the convention and spend the day cringing and not making eye contact. Apparently several years of no cons, no faires, no AD&D, no Magic, and coworkers who would admit to seeing Star Wars and not much else has pushed my own personal geekdum deep into the closet.
But I was still determined to go. I paid my money, went through the door and suddenly relaxed. Between one breath and the next an odd tension that I didn’t even know was there just melted away. There were Starfleet uniforms, strange anime school girls, a very dedicated Mystique costume and it all felt normal. If anything it felt tame. There were no singing Klingons and no one debating Kirk v. Picard.
Within the first two hours I had discussed theories on what happened to Castiel in Supernatural, if I was a Sam or Dean girl, favorite Doctor Who companions, why I never really got into SG-1, if I should buy a sonic screwdriver or a Weeping Angel t-shirt, and side effects of various mood stabilizers. And this was just with the girl I met on the bus.
I had once again found my people. People that I had forgotten were my people to begin with.
Mark Sheppard gave a great talk. He has a snarky, sarcastic sense of humor. Tells great stories about being on Supernatural, how cheap the BBC is with their Per Diem, and how he’d love to be on Doctor Who again. But it was his wrap up that was truly interesting. Most actors do a standard ‘loved being here, thanks for watching the show’ thing. Not Mr. Sheppard. He took the time to explain that he did truly love fans. That to him fans, the kind who showed up at conventions, especially dressed in costumes, were people who wore their fandom on their sleeve and by extension their hearts. They were there for something. They might be so painfully shy and socially introverted that they have trouble stringing a sentence together but get them into a debate and passion and intelligence will come through.
I knew on many levels that had been me. The first time I wanted an autograph I was seven and so shy I made my mother get it for me. At fourteen I tried to get Jason Carter’s autograph and forgot my own name when he asked. And this was while dressed as a Psi Cop. This time I managed to get Mr. Sheppard’s autograph without making an idiot of myself and even exchange a couple of words of conversation.
After that I felt strangely at peace. It had taken 23 years but I had managed to walk up to an actor with my heart and fandom on my sleeve and my head held high. I bought the Weeping Angel t-shirt and will wear it to work tomorrow and explain it, in detail, to anyone who asks. I was raised as a geek by a geek and that’s not a bad thing. I’d just forgotten it. I’m already considering costumes for next year. I’m thinking about getting a red wig and going as Donna Noble.
And for the record: Dean though I would do Cas in the back of the Impala given half a chance. Kirk but DS9 was my favorite series. Donna Noble, Captain Jack Harkness, and Amy Pond. Rose Tyler was skanky and overrated. Spike over Angel any day of the week but Xander rocked my world. I cried when Tosh and Owen died and Firefly is the best thing Joss Whedon has ever done.