March 2014. I was working in Downtown Los Angeles, and a coworker and I decided to venture out to LA Live to go to Lawry’s Carvery for lunch. As we approached Figueroa St., we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by colorful creatures. “What the hell!?” I shouted as a pedestrian hit us with his 8-foot wingspan while I noticed his tiny gold trunks. We accidentally stumbled into the crowds of WonderCon. While we ate lunch, my coworker and I complained about the huge crowds and how the slutty costumes came off trashier than artsy—and that these people were sad and lonely and probably would never find love because they were gross and smelly.
Harsh, I know. Famous last words.
Less than a year later, I met my fiancé. When M sees the crowds of WonderCon/ComicCon, he says, “These are my people!” with shouts of joy. Yes, I am marrying a nerd.
The closest thing I ever came to attending anything like a “con” was my annual Religious Education Conference when I taught High School Confirmation classes. In reality, that was more of an excuse to take advantage of the Embassy Suites’ free happy hour than to actually attend the conference.
The first summer we were together, he took off on his annual pilgrimage to San Diego ComicCon (SDCC). I gladly stayed home. M sent me Snapchats of everything he did and called me while he waited in line for eighteen hours to get into a certain hall to see a certain person. I still had no interest in attending such a convention. Although, I will admit the Snapchats he sent me of the Star Wars soundtrack played by the San Diego symphony orchestra was badass.
When he returned from SDCC, he was in a post-Con funk. Sad. Reminiscent. Constantly talking about how cool it was. So when I saw a Groupon e-mail that advertised tickets to Long Beach Comic Con (LBCC) for only $20, I figured I would surprise him. I gave him the two tickets, thinking he would take his brother or one of his friends. Nope, I was the chosen one. I donned a Star Wars t-shirt, and off we went.
LBCC is like a backyard pool compared to the Pacific Ocean that is SDCC. I am glad he started me off slow. We attended a couple of workshops that he let me choose, and I really enjoyed the lectures on Queer comic book characters and female superheroes. I even found some cool Disney princess art that is now in my bathroom…next to his Star Wars character art.
The following summer, he took me with him to his version of Mecca in San Diego. I put on my Star Wars t-shirt again, and I will admit, I was really scared; there were over 100,000 people in one place and crowds freak me out. Yes, people were gross and smelly. And, yes, there were trashy “cosplayers”—I learned the word. Yet, I had fun. I donated to a charity and shot at Storm Troopers with Nerf guns. Everyone was really nice!
M helped me open my judgmental eyes to something new. Instead of seeing “weirdos,” I now see people of all ages, sexualities, religions, and races, all together in one place because of a common interest. Yeah, some of them were smelly. M admits that at one time in his life, he was the grungy nerd that did not care about his appearance (but he NEVER smelled!).
It is important to be passionate about something in life. Whether that passion is rooted in political beliefs, artistic appeal, or a comic book, find a passion. Do not be so quick to judge those colorful people; they really are the greatest people.
Cover image property of: Florida Geek Scene