The year: 2013. The place: Pennsylvania Convention Center. The event: Comic-Con. Tens of thousands of sweaty nerds in varying degrees and aspects of geekdom, holed up in a massive, poorly ventilated hall, many of them sweltering under layers of meticulously crafted rubber, leather, and polyurethane. My hair was frizzing, my makeup was running, I was definitely regretting my choice of sandals over sneakers, but I didn’t care. I was on the hunt for celebrities.
Unlike the true do-or-die nerds of the comic conventions of yore, I was not there to score a deal on single-issue Batman comics than were older than me. I had no interest in touring the world of vintage video games. I did not intend to buy nail polish inspired by Disney villains (although I did, because Maleficent).
No, dear friends, I was there to get an actual, real life autograph from one Mr. Norman Reedus. He was the crossbow-wielding knight on dirty motorcycle who was slaying zombies and hearts on AMC’s The Walking Dead, but he had first captivated my interest as one half of the titular Boondock Saints, a cult film that launched him to–working actor-dom.
I was prepared for this encounter. I had bought a VIP ticket, back when money was merely for such luxuries and not the essential giver of life I now know it to be. The two friends I had brought with me scampered off to flirt with some actor from some little know tv show that they loved and I had never heard of, and I went to spend two or three thousand hours in line, scoffing at the mere mortals who’d bought normal price tickets, waiting their requisite 7,000+ hours. I stood there, smug in my satisfaction, clenching my limited release comic, specially adorned with a Post-It that bore my name so my autograph could be personalized. Days passed. Empires fell. The line shuffled along by inches, and then, there he was.
This was my moment. I was going to be witty. I was going to be charming. I was going to be memorable.
Norman Reedus: Hi, sweetheart! What’s your name?
NR: *smiles expectantly*
Me: I…uh….I…I really don’t remember.
NR: *glances down at woebegone Post-It* Is it Michelle?
Me: Sure, that sounds about right.
He smiled kindly at me, signed my comic, and I walked away, head hung in shame. I met up with my friends and relayed the saga of my shame. They comforted over my dismal failure and we sat together through a panel on villains, when, as we were stretching our way out of our molded plastic seats, my friend Ann decided that she wanted the privilege of meeting Mr. Reedus as well.
I, and more importantly, my VIP stamp, decided to stand in line with her, telling myself (and Ann) over and over that I was only there so she could get through the line more quickly, when, just before here turn, it occurred to me that I had been blessed with a rare and precious opportunity to redeem myself. I could dredge up that wit and charm I’d promised myself to use the first time around. So, one $10 glossy photo later, I was once again in front of my reigning celebrity boyfriend.
NR: Hey, you’re back! What was your name again?
NR: *glancing nervously towards security*
Me: Goddamnit! Not again.
Ann: Michelle! Your. Name. Is. Michelle!
By pure coincidence, I have not been back to Comic-Con since.