Thursday, October 25, 2012

Wish I Was There, Episode 2: Feeling "EPIC!"

The man had been waiting a while now. No, not that man, but a good friend of "the man" from previous entries, though I do understand the confusion. So perhaps I shouldn't refer to him as "the man" here. Therefore, I will highlight a key attribute of the protagonist and hereby refer to this person as "the ginger-haired man." (Catchy name, no?)

Now then...

The ginger-haired man had been waiting a while now, as have the other comic convention attendees standing in the long queue with him. The crowd had started to get a little restless at the realization that the object of their wait would be arriving "fashionably late." But several people had managed to entertain themselves by discussing possible scenarios to explain the person's delayed arrival. They ranged from the realistic (press junket at the entrance, phoning in voice-over ADR from his hotel room) to the far-fetched (stepped out to quickly quell a disturbance on Melva IV). The ginger-haired man had his smartphone and a list of unattended e-mails to occupy his wait time, so he only half-listened, smiling with amusement at the creativity surrounding him. Finally, the queue began to move, signalling that the awaited guest had finally arrived.

The line snaked steadily through the maze of retractable belt barricades. It would be about 15 minutes before the ginger-haired man would be able to first catch a glimpse of the person he had came to see. A bald, septuagenarian British gentleman was seated at an autograph table, talking briefly to fans at the head of the line, signing his name on photographs, action figures, and other memorabilia that bared his likeness -- or at least had an association to his most recognized role in both television and cinema as a stalwart starship captain.

As the ginger-haired man approached closer, his mind struggled to contain a rising excitement, and apprehension. His previous experiences with meeting famous people had been... awkward, to say the least. He did not want this rare opportunity to be spoiled by inconversable nervousness, or worse, by "geeking out" over the gentleman's science fiction show. So while waiting in line he had been going over in his head everything he wanted to say when he finally met the gentleman. He wanted to talk about how he greatly admired his acting, and not just for his most famous television role, but also his lesser-known yet amazing work that he had seen on stage and had heard on British radio -- in particular, the recent Money Supermarket "Epic" adverts in which the gentleman's atypical delivery made them all the more brilliant. All of these thoughts were mentally articulated and rehearsed and memorized and arranged neatly in his brain, ready for recitation. Just like in college when he would force his mind to absorb and file a hefty chunk of information in preparation for an exam. However, when he handed his autograph ticket to the show volunteer and was ushered to the autograph table, the ginger-haired man was suddenly awed by the sheer presence of the gentleman seated before him -- as long as it took him to find his voice.

"Uh... Hi," the ginger-haired man managed to say.

"How are you?" The gentleman's accented voice was warm and even, yet bold and powerful enough to send the ginger-haired man's neat mental stack of talking points tumbling around in his brain.

Just like cramming for an exam, except to the ginger-haired man, the exam was now over, and everything he had memorized was suddenly forgotten.

Fortunately, he could focus on the piece he had brought for the gentleman to sign: the main reason he had purchased an autograph ticket and stood in line for the past 45 minutes instead of milling with the rest of the crowd about the convention floor. The ginger-haired man presented a color print of a "mock comic book cover" illustration that featured the actor, politely asking the gentleman to make an autograph out to the man who created it.

“He’s a big fan,” the ginger-haired man explained.

The gentleman peered down at the artwork at his fingertips, noting a depiction of himself in his most popular role, literally doing the impossible.

“Oh, I see…” he smiled. The tip of the gentleman’s silver-ink Sharpee glided across the glossy coating of the photo paper, forming a dedication to the artist followed by his own signature.

The ginger-haired man graciously thanked the gentleman. "When he gets this, he is going to feel ‘epic’ -- that's for sure."

The gentleman's eyes flickered with recognition of the reference to his Money Supermarket voice-over work. His face and voice beamed. “That’s great,” he said sincerely. He looked once more at the illustration. “How I wish I could do that in real life,” he mused.

The ginger-haired man returned the gentleman’s smile. “Maybe someday, you will,” he replied, thinking of the potential roles the gentleman has yet to play, and the power of modern movie magic. It would be a short while later, after he made his departure from the signature station, that the ginger-haired man would bite his lip upon the realization that he didn’t verbally express that last part.

But right now, the ginger-haired man thanked the gentleman again and held out his right hand as he said his goodbye. The gentleman didn’t return the handshake as expected, surprisingly using his left hand to gently squeeze the ginger-haired man’s, smiling warmly. “Take care, now.”

"Thank you. You too."

(The ginger-haired man would later discover from a convention volunteer that the gentleman was suffering from severe arthritis that day and thus shouldn't be shaking hands. The ginger-haired man never suspected it at the time [a virtuoso display of the gentleman's craft], and was deeply honored that the gentleman had accepted his hand anyway.)


The illustration that the ginger-haired man held also depicted the gentleman's primary nemesis in his signature television series, and the American actor that portrayed this one-letter-named character was seated behind a table next to that of the gentleman, also signing autographs. So he Q-ed... er, queued up to meet him as well.

The ginger-haired man again felt that familiar pang of nervous apprehension as he approached the American actor. Admittedly, he wasn't familiar with the American actor's body of work outside of the role depicted in the illustration, some audio books, and a few animation voice-over parts. While in the queue he had tried to come up with what he would hope to be a unique question to ask the actor. Having seemingly failed in that task (more likely due to an abundance of self-criticism than lack of creativity), he decided to simply engage in "small talk" and let the artwork serve as the unique aspect of the brief conversation.

The actor regarded the drawing for a moment before he lifted his black pen.

"How about here?" he began, pointing to one of the few lighter-colored areas of the illustration, which was actually the face of his character's "partner" in the comic book cover fantasy scenario. "Is that good?"

"Yeah, that's fine," the ginger-haired man said. He actually wanted to say "appropriate." Having the actor's signature obscure the other illustrated adversary's face, and thus leave his character's visage unblemished, hinted a sly deviousness that befitted his most famous role.

The ginger-haired man thanked the actor before making way for the next fan. He paused for a moment to look back at the still-massive autograph queue behind him -- the slow rat race he patiently endured -- and smiled with satisfaction before disappearing into the convention crowd.

[The previous dramatization, and hopefully accurate depiction, of events is in recognition and appreciation for the great lengths the ginger-haired man had gone through at the 2012 Wizard World Ohio Con in order to present me with this wonderful gift. Words cannot possibly express the extent of my gratitude, so I will simply say thank you to the Ginger-Haired Man, Sir Patrick Stewart and Mr. John De Lancie -- thank you for making me feel "epic."]