Okay, I was emcee at AMA. That was awesome. It wasn't the first time, and if they'll have me back, it's not the last. But this was the first time THIS happened:
"Hey... I really, really liked your show..." said a girl, who was slightly trembling like she had met a celebrity. "You're really, really funny!" It retrospect, I should have turned around and looked behind me to see if she was speaking to someone else. But this happened to me a few times before, albeit rarely. The girl looked maybe 14 or 15, and was with two other girls about the same age. The she stopped dead cold, and I could feel this eminating from her: "Oh my god ohmygod whatt'l I *say*? I am just standing here like a DORK! I DIDN'T PLAN THIS OUT!! I CAN'T ABORT THE MISSION!"
Man, I remember 15.
"Thank you," I said. "You're really kind. I did improv for many years." I didn't know what to say. Neither did she. In the middle of the convention center lobby, both of us were awkwardly trying to figure out what the next step was. I had to do something. I know! Fill the air with my inane babble! "You know, I have been doing this for years, and only recently been coming down this far because Ed invited me." Why the hell did I say that??
"Ed?" she asked.
How could I be more famous than Ed? He is THE MAN! "The convention chair. He's a friend from way back when we worked at Katsucon togeth--."
"You work at KATSUCON??"
I chuckled. It was as if I had has just stated I was both a rock star, surgeon, AND a scientist. "Um... I am a co-chair. But I was an emcee for--"
"SHUT UP!" she screamed, and then looked as she wished she hadn't.
Luckily, I am not so out of touch with colloquial teen lingo that I took the 1970s value of that statement. In my era, "Shut up" meant "STOP TALKING YOU DUMB JERK!" Now it means what we called, "No way, man! You for real?" followed by a few ninth chords and and a trumpet chorus.
But back to my story. One of the (quiet) teen girls looked scared. Like the kind of scared a 1960s fan of the Beatles had if she got too close to Paul: a little freaked out. I am note entirely sure if if was because of ME or she drank too much sappho and the stains on the lips were not an adequate warning, but she was starting nervously at me, then the floor, then at me. I think if I would have winked at her with a "bing" noise and a spark of dazzling teeth, she would have collapsed from the tension snap.
It was quiet again. I said, "Punkie, you are NOT well trained in this. You're one ugly son of a bitch, and you have three teen girls right below the pedestal they put you on. One false word, one wrong stare, one... throwing star to their ego could explode in a fiery mess like Jenny Fields' funeral in Irving's 'The World According to Garp.' Their fragile, nerd egos are held trembling in your hand like a wounded sparrow. " This was a test. I became aware they were all staring at my feet. Ah, EXTROVERTED nerds (introverted stare at their own feet).
"Those are awesome shoes..." she said. She was referring to my signature Chucks, which I had custom made.
"You are very kind," I repeated. How flabby. "I had them custom made. See? They have my name down the back..." Well, we'll all be nerds together, but it was so humorously clear that NEITHER PARTY HAD A WAY OUT OF THIS CONVERSATION. In a previous incident, I was recognized by an employee of a Chinese restaurant, who was about the same age as my son at the time, 15. She freaked out and ran into the kitchen where her and her younger siblings watched me from behind boxes of noodles and giggled. She later got over that, when she realized she went to high school with CR. Now she just ignores me. But at least she ran away. NO ONE WAS RUNNING IN THIS EVENT! It was like we were locked horns of geeky wonder and shock,.
No one prepared me. I am 41 years old. My son was 5 when these kids were born. My first book had already been out 2 years.
"Um... I have to go... that way," I said. "Enjoy the wonders that are... er, is... are? Anime Mid Atlantic."
"Hhhokay!" said the fametalker. But she did not get out of the way. She was not being rude, she just didn't want to move before I did. I think. Or maybe her knees locked.
"Navigator!" I cried. "Set a course for... THAT WAY!" I said. I copied the line from a pirate spoof back in my day, "Yellowbeard," I think it was called. I pointed in the direction, and passed her like I was... well, Sir Arthur galloping on an invisible horse with Patsy clapping two coconuts together.
The incident was over. GOD I hope that poor girl didn't beat herself up over it. I feared her fragile ego replaying the event of meeting me and beating herself up over and over again. "GOD I WAS SUCH A DWEEB! FUCK!" I hope she thought it was cool, or even that i wasn't as funny in person as she gushed as she met me.
But it happened again. Twice at the con.
And then a few weeks ago, on the Metro. Not as awkward, but a girl came up to me and asked, "Hey... were you... at an Anime Con in... like Virgina Beach?"
I nodded. "Am I in trouble?"
"Hahaha," she nervously laughed. "No. I thought I recognized you. This is my mom and dad. We're here on a band trip. I mean, my band. My SCHOOL band! Not theirs. We're not a family band like the Hansons. Hahahaha!"
"Too bad," I said. Again, not sure why. "I love band nerds," I said. "Most of my friends in high school were band nerds back before it was cool."
"Oh wow..." she said nervously. "Um... we're still not cool... hahaha! We're all dorks!"
"But the BEST kinds of dorks," I added.
"Well... nice to see you," she said. "You're REALLY funny...!"
"Thanks, you're... too kind." I was really hoping she'd say, "two kinds of what?" from Rocky. But she exited at Foggy Bottom, talking excitedly to her mom.
Then again, today, another person came up to me. "Hey... my boyfriend says that you look like a guy who works with Anime." She was referring to her a scraggly teen in a Nickelback shirt.
"I work with anime cons and guests, but never done any myself."
"It *IS* you!" she said. "You're SO FUNNY! Do you know Vic Monglanna...?"
"You mean Vic Mignogna from Ouran Host Club?"
"YEAH! He's SO cool..."
"I don't know him personally, but we've hung out back stage together..."
This girl was a little more centered, and older like possibly 18. We spoke about the series. She told me the costumes she wore from it (Renge Houshakuji ). We spoke about Greg Ayres. Then it was my stop, and I got off.
This better not be a trend. Because...
No matter where you go... there you are...
And there I am! Where are all these people coming from?