(See what I did there? To prove my love goes beyond Doctor Who)
I have a long history of attending conventions in my past, beginning with the original Trek (most exciting con moment to date: riding an elevator with James “Scotty” Doohan. Second: being in the front row of a Brent “Data” Spiner Q&A; both with my very best Trek friend, Lisa). Back then cons were in such an infant stage, autographs were given for free (or perhaps a negligible fee. $15, perhaps).
My last big convention was in 2001, at the Xena “Last Dance” con in Pasadena, CA. As thrilling as it was to see my two favorite women on stage (even if I was half a football stadium away), the autographs game had changed dramatically: now they wanted $35 a piece. Whoa, too rich for my blood.
Fast forward to 2018, and the upcoming Denver Comic-Con. To be sure, not as big a deal as San Diego (nothing is), but I knew their guests had been steadily growing in stature and popularity over the years.
I was minding my own business, working (as always), when I got a text from my friend Sabrina, clearly emotionally unglued, saying, “OH MY GOD DAVID TENNANT IS GOING TO BE AT COMIC CON *weeping face x3* I know you don’t go to Comic Con but it’s DAVID FUCKING TENNANT and I thought you might want to know.”
What followed was a concerted effort to convince me to go. Let me be clear: I DO love David Tennant. I’d easily put him in my top three with Cumberbatch and Hiddleston.
But have you SEEN how much a con costs these days? A one-day pass is $60 to get in the door. Autographs are $40-$70 (depending on popularity). Photo ops are $70-$100 (guess which range Tennant is in?) And if money was no object, there were several others I wouldn’t mind seeing, like Alan Tudyk, John Barrowman, and Ron Perlman, to name a few. If this was your thing, this could easily be your big holiday expenditure for the year (and so it is for some of my coworkers, and I’m jealous as hell).
Then Sabrina figured out why I was resisting. Turns out, the photo ops allow up to 4 people, and she was more than happy to let me bomb their photo. This was an offer I couldn’t resist.
Ticket bought, I now had to face the reality that in three weeks, I’d be in the same room as, and even standing quite close to, David Tennant. “I have to lose like 30 pounds!” I said to Nicole in anguished panic. “Meh,” she replied, “I’m sure everyone looks overweight next to him. He’s a beanpole.”
Three weeks later, and I thought I was as ready as I could be. I had gotten the night before off work so I wasn’t a zombie all day with my friends. I had narrowed my T-shirt choices down to a short list (I have a closet full of awesome fandom shirts that never see the light of day. This was my big chance, and I was tempted to bring a suitcase and change periodically all day (I settled on two)).
But of course, the universe has a cruel sense of humor. Three days before, I got a huge zit on my cheek that looked like I got in a knife fight by Sunday. “How will he fall in love with me with THIS on my face??” I wailed.
Which turned out to be the least of my problems. First I had to stay all night Friday at work, which left me with a bone-deep level of exhaustion that persisted into Monday. Worst of all, this weekend Denver has been unusually muggy and humid, and I abandoned a perfectly good hair day (if a little fluffy) and washed my hair, and ended up having one of the frizziest, worst days of my life.
And worst worst of all, I had bizarre anxiety dreams all night. First I dreamed that just as they were taking the picture, I decided to take my shirt off (when I sleep topless, I’m topless in my dreams). Then I realized that wasn’t a good look for me and tried to hide behind Tommy like a spaz. In the second dream, we were last in line so David wanted to stick around and chat with us, but I was afraid we were bothering him and kept trying to drag Sabrina and Tommy away. Like a spaz.
Bad dreams and worse hair notwithstanding, we all headed downtown, and the train was full of cosplayers (I met this super nice Gandalf at the station:)
Even before the train arrived, I had the sinking realization my ticket verification email didn’t contain a barcode LIKE EVERY OTHER TICKET AGENCY I’VE USED but instead instructions to download the Android app (Flash Seats. Remember it. They very much suck). Which then wanted me to log into my account, which didn’t work and then it got disabled, and look, here’s our stop and I’M NO CLOSER TO HAVING MY TICKET. I spent the whole trip on hold, and you’d think on a weekend in con season they’d have a few more agents working.
I never got an agent. It turned out the entrance worker just needed to scan my credit card to verify and I was in. WHEW. But I won’t forget this, Flash Seats. And if you think you’re the “future of event ticketing”(as their home page boasts), you’d better hire a few more people.
Anyway, we were in. We were a few hours early, which gave us time to wander the merch floor. Which was quite impressive compared to my last outing in Pasadena, which as I remember was mostly lame still shots from the show and that was it. This place was a nerd’s toy/art/clothing paradise, for nearly every fandom.
Notice I said “nearly.” I could’ve easily spent hundreds, if money was no object. But it very much is, so I decided to limit my search for some unique Snape swag.
Clever of me, because there was NONE. Avengers, DC Comics, anime, Stranger Things, even one booth with very cool (and pricey) Wes Anderson-inspired posters. No sign of my favorite Potions Master anywhere. I guess everyone else has moved on already.
Until I found This guy’s booth, specializing in distinctive head shapes with iconic quotes in place of the face. This was a no-brainer.
I also saw many cool cosplayers but only had the courage to approach one. I spotted this woman and noticed something wasn’t right about her face. She looked really ghastly and I thought it was a medical condition. Then I saw her outfit and my face broke out in a huge grin. I’ll see if you can guess.
This guy was standing in line to see Kristian “Hodor” Nairn, and yes, that’s a freaking door on his back.
I was very close to Styrofoam Xena (and in fact the only Xena I saw) in line.
It was a welcome respite from the many, many, many TARDIS dresses I saw (which made me a little sad. They probably thought it was really clever and they would be the only one). There were also two Jessica Jones’s.
The time was drawing close, and my stomach wasn’t happy (I’m afflicted with a nervous gut. In fact, Tommy started trying to get me “psyched up” as we got closer, and I said, “Trust me, you don’t want to do that”). To the event organizers’ credit, they’re excellent at crowd control, and people obeyed their pleas to not stampede or elbow anyone out of the way. That’s because, it turns out, the line moves very quickly once they get going and herding people through the shot in literally seconds. (Sabrina noticed there was no obvious exit where everyone was coming out. I joked there was a Cybermen factory on the other side.)
In no time, we were inside the little tent area. To the right, racks for bags and other items. To the left, DAVID FREAKING TENNANT. I caught a quick glimpse through the open divider and my heart stopped. He was RIGHT THERE. And he looked SO NORMAL.
No time, keep moving. With our bags ditched, we shuffled into the photo area. And I started shaking (Sabrina said she was too, and I was comforted). She tried to make me go first, but my god, she paid for this. Plus, if he touched me I would literally die.
Suddenly it was our turn, and David was greeting us, making it a point to look into everyone’s eyes and smile. I smiled back but speech was out of the question. Sabrina (for all her shaking) marched straight up to him and offered her adipose toy to hold (Catherine Tate ep. You need to be a fan). He was taken aback but said, “Sure.” Then he felt it and exclaimed delightedly, “Ooh, it’s squisha!” And that was the extent of our interaction. And here’s the pic.
That’s the official pic. Here’s my preferred Photoshop version (with a wee tiny Sabrina in his hands and me cozied up to him):
He didn’t fall in love with me (to my knowledge). My still insane but slightly more realistic fantasy was that he’d fall in love with my T-shirt and ask if he could have it, which was 20% of the reason I brought two. But there was hardly time to enjoy the barest of social niceties before we were out the door again, and I kind of think that sucks (but as I said, it was apparent that David was trying really, really hard to be personable with everyone). For 100 clams, you should get the chance to say “You’ll always be my favorite Doctor” (and for all I know, I could have. But that also would have resulted in my immediate demise). I think getting an autograph would allow more face time, but you can get those on eBay. The photo is proof. Proof that for ten thrilling seconds, I was within a few short feet of of David Freaking Tennant.
We wandered past the autograph tables, where I caught a very distant glimpse of Alan Tudyk through the crowd (Sabrina said if I tried to sneak a photo they’d smack my phone out of my hand faster than I could say “bring back Firefly”). Then it was off to eat a massively overpriced burger (nerds have disposable income, and are too lazy to leave the building) and one last circuit through the salesfloor. But I got all I came for, and my poor abused feet were ready to leave without me.
One last photo. The place was crawling with Harley Quinns (Sabrina said it was ridiculous last year, when the movie actually came out, and I believe it). So I had to laugh when I noticed one more, for old time’s sake, right across from us on the train.