I have been a Wil Wheaton fan since he was on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I also thoroughly enjoyed his acting in Stand By Me. While I’ve always been a fan, and had a bit of a crush on him during ST:TNG, he fell off my radar for quite a while. A few years ago I found out he had a blog, but got distracted before I could check it out, and then promptly forgot about it. Doh! Late in 2007, I rediscovered the blog, and started reading it. I very quickly realized that not only was Wil Wheaton great in Star Trek, he’s also very funny and radiantly geeky. With every post I would find something else we had in common. I read back through a year’s worth of archives and I looked forward to reading every new post. I laughed out loud, I cried, I was moved. I’m not a poker fan, though, so there were a few entries that didn’t interest me. But no one is perfect.
Then in January of last year, Wil posted a series of announcements that were quite exciting. To me, the most exciting was that he was going to be in Phoenix for the Phoenix Comicon. I immediately got excited and started making funny noises. “I… could… meet… Wil… Wheaton… in… person!!!” Yay! Then reality set in. “Oh no, I could actually meet Wil Wheaton. What am I going to do? What will I wear? What will I say? Will I make a fool out of myself? Will I even be a memorable fan? How can I be memorable but not crazy?” <panic panic panic!> I’d never actually met a famous person before. I’d seen several in plays, making speeches and in other similarly public situations. But this would be a whole new experience. I’d have to actually talk to one. It was exciting and frightening at the same time.
I had never been to a comic book convention before, not being a comic book reader, but I had always been curious about what they were like. And Phoenix is only two hours from home. There were several other Star Trek and some Star Wars actors listed as guests, so I used that as more reason to go, and more data to talk my husband into the idea. The whole plan was falling into place. But my level of panic just kept rising.
After trying on several outfits to try to strike the perfect balance between hip and geek, and after working out on paper what I would say during my short time with Wil, we headed down to Phoenix. When we got there, I wanted to find out where Wil was stationed so I could start working up the courage to get in his line. It sounded like there would be quite a lengthy line, so I’d have plenty of time to get myself together. We found him, though, with a very short line. Just a few people. More panic.
After a few passes, and some deliberate stalling techniques, I worked up the courage to add myself to the queue. There were about seven people in front of me. The line moved slowly as I went over my lines in my head. Then my kids started getting impatient and my husband took them over to the side. The kids kept going back and forth between us, though, doing their best to make me look unhip. I knew Wil was a family man, though, so maybe it would work out okay.
At one point, there were four people ahead of me. I still had a nice buffer to get mentally ready. “He’s just a person,” I kept telling myself. “Just a normal person.” “But he’s Wil Wheaton!” my other side said. “He’s way cooler than you are.” When the person who was up talking with Wil was done, the entire group of four people ahead of me moved to the left and disappeared. There was a huge space between Wil and me. No transition time! Wait! Come back! I’m not ready!
But I had to step up and meet him, doing my best to look unphased. I told him that I wanted to buy his new book, The Happiest Days of Our Lives. He asked if I wanted hardback or paperback. Wait, I wasn’t prepared for this question. I don’t think well on the spot, so I panicked and chose paperback. As he was signing it to me, though, I remembered that I had wanted hardback. Too late now!
After he signed my book, I used the line that I’d been working on for a couple of weeks: “You make me even more proud to be a geek.” He appreciated that, but I’m not sure it was distinctive enough to make him remember me. Perhaps my two kids that came up at this point, wearing handmade superhero capes, were more memorable. He said that any kid that was wearing a cape got a bonus, and he handed them each a little ad for his recently written Star Trek: the manga Volume 2: Kakan ni Shinkou story. Wil and I chatted for a couple of minutes about geekdom not being cherished enough. I really just wanted to sit down with him right then and start playing games.
I’m sure Wil is quite practiced at making good conversation with a wide variety of people, but he certainly made me feel accepted, appreciated and at ease. Instantly at ease. He’s just a guy, just a geek and just exactly the kind of person with whom I’d want to hang out.
Wil Wheaton. Just a normal guy who happens to be famous. He’s also very funny, personable and appreciative of his fans. I wish more people would take a page from his book. Or all of his books!
(Photo: Jenny Williams)
(Editor’s Note: Please welcome new GeekDad writer Jenny Williams, our second GeekMom!)