Cornfield Meet

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PAX East, Day Two Part 1: WheatonQuest

So, while my first day at PAX East had centered on the Bringing Up the Next Generation of Geeks panel and catching Wil Wheaton’s keynote – which I covered in this post for GeekDad – Saturday morning’s sunrise illuminated Me On A Quest.

Because over the past year, my daughter Kelsey has become a major Wil Wheaton fan. It started just before Penguicon 7.0 last May, when we watched video online of him playing Rock Band at a convention, and she has since enjoyed both The Happiest Days of Our Lives and Just A Geek. She was excited to see him show up on The Big Bang Theory and can’t wait for Evil Wil’s return to the show next month.

I was planning my PAX trip right around the time we were listening to the Happiest Days audiobook in the car, and while there’s a lot of stuff in that book she loves, nothing cracks her up like the story “Blue Light Special,” in which Wil relates a childhood trip to K-Mart and his moments of agony and indecision in the Star Wars figures aisle. Of course, what absolutely kills her is this bit of frustration internally voiced by young Wil upon finding a glut of Cloud City figures: “Lando Calrissian? He was a dick in the movie. There’s no way I’m getting him.”

When Kelsey heard Wil was going to be at PAX, she asked if I could get him to sign something cool, and we came up with what we thought he might think was a pretty funny idea: a vintage Kenner Lando Calrissian action figure cardback. A friend in the Rebelscum forums hooked me up with one in a flash, and the task was set. Adding to the pressure on me was the fact that Kelsey had just turned 13 on Friday, and I was really aiming to bring home a one-of-a-kind present from my trip to Boston and garner some bankable Dad Points with my newly-minted teenager.

All the way into Boston, I wrestled with a decision over how to begin my day. Cartoonist Bill Amend was scheduled for an hour-long 10 a.m. presentation on celebrating geekdom in FoxTrot – of which Kelsey and I are also big fans – and I desperately wanted to attend. Problem: Wil had tweeted the night before that he’d be at his signing table from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and I just knew that if I made it into Bill’s panel, that by the time I got out, there’d likely be an awfully long line for Wil’s signature, and maybe even a significant risk of not getting one. (I was planning to leave midafternoon in order to get a chance to spend the evening with my friends in Pawtucket, who graciously let me use their house as a base of operations over the weekend.)

In the end, I opted – hoping that Bill Amend would understand a Geek Dad’s dilemma – to aim for an early spot in Wil’s line, and I wound up among the first dozen people or so, along with my friends Paul & Wendy, who showed up not long after I did.

Wil arrived shortly after 11 a.m. – by which point the line had in fact become pretty sizable – and the reality that the Quest’s End was in sight settled over my shoulders.

Paul & Wendy were in front of me, and they have their own superfantasticool Meeting Wil story which they deserve to share themselves if they so choose, and then I was stepping up to the table.

Echoes of a Blue Light Special

Wil was incredibly kind and enthusiastic and friendly as I thanked him first for inspiring my daughter and me to attend Penguicon last year, and then briefly related Kelsey’s enthusiasm for “Blue Light Special,” handing him the Lando card and explaining that we thought it would be funny and then – “Ohmygod!” he interjected, just grinning and looking at this card and saying how cool it was and he hadn’t seen one in years. Suddenly I felt a little bad because I wished I’d brought an extra one for him to keep, even as he neatly printed “Happy Birthday Kelsey!” and then added his signature, reminding me that I should let it dry for a few minutes to keep the ink from smearing on the glossy card.

He signed a copy of Happiest Days for me, then, and the last thing I did was give him a copy of Collect All 21! His first reaction was to look at the cover and say thank you, and then he flipped it open for just a second, but it was long enough for him to smile and roll his eyes and say, “Of course I open right to the page where you get the Death Star.” (See his story “The Trade” for why this is a bit of a sore spot.)

The whole thing took maybe two minutes, tops, but it was awfully neat.

When I talked to Kelsey the night I got home to Ohio, I wouldn’t tell her whether or not I’d managed to fulfill her request. When my mom brought her back to our house this afternoon, I was greeted with a massive heart-crushing hug (yes, even before I brought out the gifts) and then I threw all my planned teasing delays out the window and just said, “Well, we did it,” and I handed her the Lando card. Moment of Awesome Achieved. (Thanks again, Wil!)

March 30, 2010 - Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, geek, Travel, writing | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] writers for the first time – and be a part of the first-ever GeekDad convention panel. Met Wil Wheaton and Scott Kurtz and Bill Amend and Ethan Gilsdorf, and the whole weekend sparked my return to […]

    Pingback by Where We Were, Where I Am, What’s Ahead « Cornfield Meet | January 2, 2011 | Reply

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