Thursday, February 27, 2014
What unbridled imagination feels like
What’s odd about travel is that you often find yourself waiting when you arrive at your destination. And as I stood in line last Saturday morning to pick up tickets at Pensacon (the city’s first major science fiction/comics/horror convention) I saw one of my earliest childhood memories stroll past.
The Adam West-era Batman, Batgirl and Robin — as cosplayed by Mobile, Ala.-based cancer surgeon William Roy, nurse Amber Cain and her son Alex — paused for photos in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, and I knew I was among my tribe.
There comes a moment when you recognize your people, or at least see yourself reflected in the forms of strangers. Some will get under your skin, infuriate you or embarrass you. Many you wouldn’t recognize on the street.
But they’re yours. And whether you believe it or not, you are one of them.
>>See more photos from Pensacon here<<
Thousands of us swamped the hotel and convention center rooms and floors to celebrate our heroes — actors and creators known for their work in various media, such as Billy Dee Williams and Peter Mayhew of “Star Wars”; Dirk Benedict and Richard Hatch of “Battlestar Galactica”; authors Joe Lansdale and Timothy Zahn; comic book artists Mike Grell and Neal Adams; and literally dozens more.
Many (though not me) wore the most amazing costumes you ever saw.
After the session ended, I asked to take their photo. I asked if they were locals — actually almost said “from Panama City?” — and they replied that they were, indeed, from Panama City. She is Christina Gilbert, a hairdresser, and he is Chris Stock, an instructor with Dragon Dojo. Stock took a moment to describe how he had assembled his costume, complete with its segmented “metallic” arm. This was his second convention, and her first.
Another local friend, Katie, made the trip with her mom. I missed them in the crowd, even though we all made it to the standing-room-only session on “Firefly,” a short-lived sci fi series. On Facebook, she described the event as a place “where fan-girling, steampunk, comics, TV shows, seeing great cosplayers, meeting celebrities, turning mom into a Browncoat, and Snoopy dances happen! It was great.”
But here we are now, returned to the “real world,” in the costumes of jobs that conceal our true secret identities. But wherever we may walk tomorrow, our imaginations took us elsewhere for a weekend — and we recognized kindred in their myriad forms and fancies.
(This is my Undercurrents column for PanamaCity.com and The News Herald this week.)