My very first comic con was in Seattle in 2013. I was struggling with adjusting to life in my new home, and I was beyond excited about comic con.
The most exciting part? Seeing Misha Collins in person. I knew that I wanted to do a photo-op with him, as well as an autograph session.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve met celebrities before – I love meeting my favorite comedians after their sets. Sure, I’m a little awkward, but I look normal in the pictures.
So when it came time to meet Misha, I was nervous and ecstatic, but I had no idea what was about to happen. I got in line for my photo-op and waited for two hours. Mind you, this was my first con experience, so I didn’t know what to expect.
If you’ve never done a photo-op with a celebrity at a convention, let me enlighten you:
You wait around for your group to be called for the session. You then get in line to get in line to get in another line before you’re finally ushered behind the screens.
You compose yourself; you see the celebrity a few feet from you taking pictures with the people in line before you.
If you’re like me, the only thought in your head is “Don’t squint. Don’t squint. Don’t squint.”
It’s your turn.
The volunteer at the front of the line ushers you toward the celebrity. You do a quick hello. You get in place and snap.
It’s over in 15 seconds.
You’re directed to pick up your picture.
Your brain is racing 100 mph between “OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE I MET HIM AND TOUCHED HIM. OMG, I HOPE I DIDN’T SQUINT. WHAT JUST HAPPENED.”
Then it happens.
You get the picture.
And, well, you barely recognize yourself.
So, my awkward crazy eyes came into existence.
I have spent the past five years coming to terms with this. I’ve alternated between wanting to destroy the evidence to regretting the experience to taking mocking myself to the next level.
Here’s the thing: I know this was the cultivation of way too many emotions. I know that this is an experience that I will cherish forever. I know that the way these photos ops are set up don’t nurture the most natural of experiences.
I’ve met other celebrities since this day. The photos have always turned out normal. I know how to smile in pictures.
Fast forward to today. When it was announced that David Tennant was going to be at this year’s Emerald City Comic Con, there was no hesitation. I would be getting a picture with him. The excitement doubled when they added an opportunity with Billie Piper to the agenda.
My friends and I planned a group cosplay: I would be steampunk TARDIS, Jessi was a femme ten, and Robyn was the Bad Wolf Rose. We looked amazing.
Naturally, we joked about my crazy eyes. We knew it was coming, but this time, I didn’t feel rushed. I wasn’t alone, and I wasn’t super nervous.
Yet, when I’m in that booth with the backdrop, 15 seconds of “what is even happening” and I need to find the camera, something in me tense up.
I’m like Chandler when he tries to take a picture.
First up was the photo with just David Tennant. Jessi and I were ready. Excited, nervous, but ready. Then DT shook my hand, told me I look “splendid,” I put my arm around him, turned to the camera and snap.
Granted, it’s not as bad as the one with Misha but I don’t recognize my smile.
But my cosplay looks excellent, Jessi looks adorable, and oh my goodness, David.
An hour later, it was time for our photo with David Tennant and Billie Piper.
We decided Robyn would be between DT and Billie since Jessi and I had already taken a picture with DT. Jessi stood next to Billie; I stood next to DT.
We got into place, DT took Jessi’s sonic screwdriver and leaned forward with his arm around me.
To be clear, I am obsessed with this picture. We all look amazing. This picture makes me so happy, even if my smile still doesn’t look like “me.”
Sure, sometimes I’ll get super self-conscious about these pictures, but at the end of the day, I’ll take the awkward crazy eyes that come with these once-in-a-lifetime experiences.