Confessions of a Con Virgin

Submitted by Jim Smith

I was 44 years old and I had never done it.  Never felt the thrill, never felt the sense
of wonder.  I was a con virgin.
So, our story begins several months ago, when Katrina and I
were discussing conventions that were coming up and which ones she was going
to.  I had never been to a con in my
entire geeky life, and I floated the idea of accompanying her to C2E2, the
Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition, in 2013.  It would be a perfect first con, because,
first of all, it didn’t require a lot of traveling.  Chicago was only a couple hours from my home
in Milwaukee.  Additionally, I would have
the help of a con expert in Katrina, and in return for her help, I could take
pictures for the website.  It was a great
idea all around.
So, the tentative plan was made, and quickly forgotten.  As C2E2 got closer and closer, I really
didn’t make the moves needed to go until Katrina pinned me down and told me that
her ability to make plans required me to make up my mind and commit to either
going or not.  Realizing that I was
holding her up, I pulled the trigger and ordered my badge.  A few weeks later, the hotel was booked,
travel plans and pet sitting were arranged, and I was officially going to
C2E2.  All that was left to happen was
the passage of time.
The morning of the start of the con, I woke up at 5:00am
(Katrina was already on the road for over an hour by then), and on the road half
an hour later.  I dropped the dog off at
6:30 and hit the road to our meeting point. 
A couple hours later, we met up, parked her car in a lot near O’Hare
Airport, and drove into the city.  We
dropped off the car and luggage at the hotel and hopped the con shuttle to
McCormick Place, the venue for C2E2.
I was immediately struck by the number of people there
waiting to get in.  This was going to be
a big deal!  I was also struck by the
cosplayers, and how they ran the gamut of simple and basic costumes (that would
be me if I tried) all the way to a full suit of Iron Man armor made of
articulated plastic parts.  I started
taking pics right away, and went merrily on my way as I started to enjoy the
sights and sounds of C2E2.
One of the main reasons I was there was to meet J Michael
Straczynski,  the creator of Babylon 5.  Being a fan of B5 since the episode “Born to the Purple”, I was eager to meet the
genius who brought this wonderful show to us. 
He wasn’t at his table the first few times I checked.  Then, on one swing past his table, his
assistant was setting up his table as about 5 people watched.  The table skirt and table were two different
sizes, and I figured to expedite the arrival of JMS, I would help set his booth
up.  I helped get the table skirt on,
talking to his assistant and thinking that her voice sounded familiar.  She thanked me and I made a flirty joke about
just needing a guy around who folded his own bed sheets and took my first decent
look at her to realize that this was no assistant.  I was face to face (and flirting with) none
other than Patricial Tallman, who played Lyta Alexander on B5
I later tweeted a proposal, but she graciously declined.  She is a class act.
So I got my geek on, meeting Bruce Boxleitner, JMS and Pat
Tallman as a bonus that day.  I walked
around, talked geeky stuff with people and looked at merchandise and took lots
of pictures.  By the end of the day, my
step counter had logged over 26,000 steps taken.  I don’t even want to think of what that was
in miles*.
On Saturday, it was back at it.  One of the highlights on Saturday was
spending time in Artist Alley where various artists, inkers and colorists had
tables to meet fans of their art.  That
was where I had some comic shock.  I was
face to face with the fact that comics were not the tame publications I
remembered from my youth.  Many books had
taken on an anime styling of coquettish females with large chests, tiny waists,
and voluptuous rear bumpers.  While I
found this to be moderately bothersome, one publisher’s books based on the
Bible really turned my stomach when I noticed an issue called “A Faceful of Peter”**,
which the cover suggests was a tale of two gay apostles.  I lacked the courage to pick it up, much less
read it.  Yes, I know, you aren’t
supposed to judge a book by its cover, but in this case I did.

More cosplay pics, and I was introduced to a professional
cosplayer, Cara Nicole, better known in con circles as AZ Powergirl.  She and her husband, artist Alfred Trujillo
were wonderful and friendly, and since they were friends of Katrina’s, we went
out for pizza Saturday night, and I learned something very important.  They were regular people, just like me, but
with MUCH cooler jobs.  Katrina had
promised to introduce me to the “cool kids” at the con, and she did not
disappoint.
By the time Sunday had rolled around, I was pretty much
spent.  I stuck around for a few hours,
but said my farewells early, and hit the road around noon.  I picked up the dog, played some cards with
my friends, took a nap on their couch, then headed home.  A good night’s sleep, and I was back to my
normal life the next day.
As of this writing, I am still 44 years old, but now, I have
been there, and done that.  I am no
longer a con virgin, and maybe, just maybe, my case of con fatigue will be gone
in time for me to go to C2E2 next year!
*10,000 steps = 5 miles approximately.
** Geek-o-Rama actually received a copy of this book to review so watch for that in the upcoming months.

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