We got to the terminal, got our bags, and cleared customs in next to no time, and were greeted by Gary and Isa. They were a sight for sore eyes. No really. Our eyes were sore.
Unless you think it might be an understatement to call the sensation of having half your blood replaced with an inert substance roughly the consistency of Karo Syrup and carrying three pounds of rock salt under each eyelid “sore”.
Anyway, we did a lot of fun, entertaining and educational things on this trip…but the heart and soul of this vacation was the visit with Gary and Isa.
Let me introduce you.
Gary is a big, warm genial guy. If he were a piece of furniture, he’d be an overstuffed chair in the library. He’s got a graduate degree in Chemistry. He knows just about everything there is to know about British history. He loves to study accents and dialects, and can do a really good Nebraskan accent, and a passable South Carolina accent. And he is unabashedly a Fan, referring to Sci-fi/Fantasy as “The one, true, religion”.
Isa is German by birth. She works in London doing technical support for a small software company that used to be owned by Sea Gate. She deals most frequently with German customers. If she were a Disney Character, she would be Tigger…and indeed, their house is filled with Tigger paraphernalia. She is short, cute, bouncy and ferociously up-beat. Also, every time I see her, she greets me with a small suitcase full of German and Belgian chocolates.
We met Gary and Isa at a Babylon Five convention called “The Wrap Party”. It was a fabulous convention. I met J. Michael Straczynski (creator of Babylon Five, Jeremiah, and writer of some of the best comic book coolness in recent years), Harlan Ellison (brilliant and prolific writer and curmudgeonly over-grown ego that I want to be just like when I grow up), Peter David (promising young writer), Anne McCaffery (grand Dame of the cool dragon story), James White (peerless author of The Genocidal Healer and the other Sector General novels) and Gary and Isa.
In retrospect, given a choice between meeting all of these really impressive, talented, and famous people whose work I love and respect, and meeting Gary and Isa it would be hands down for Gary and Isa.
They are everything that is good about fans rolled up into one neat little package; generous, kind, easy-going, upbeat, optimistic, friendly, searingly intelligent, creative, imaginative, and very ethical.
If you are not “in fandom” you might not understand how you can form a life-long friendship with someone over a period of just a couple of days. Fandom is so called because it is a sort of Gypsy-like nation…spanning the globe with no real homeland of it’s own except for whatever center of the brain is responsible for imagination. Fans are one people. Sure, we’re British, American, German, Bolivian…whatever…but a Fan in Brazil will often find that he has as much or more in common with a fan from Norway than he has with his own countrymen.
Same with occupation or socio-economic class; a fan who’s a taxi driver can talk for hours with a fan who’s a nuclear physicist, if they are joined by a professor of philosophy, they will most likely come up with a great panel topic for the next convention they all attend.
With a few exceptions, fans are generally one big accepting, inclusive, occasionally dysfunctional family.
While we were at the Wrap party for example, we had a small emergency that looked as though it required us to travel back to our previous hotel. We had been mugged, or pick-pocketed, or whatever you want to call it, in Paris, and didn’t yet have any credit cards that we could use or cash to pay a cab.
A couple of fans we had never met, and never got to know the names of, offered us the loan of their car.
Fortunately, that turned out to be unnecessary…but can you imagine any other population where a total stranger would offer someone the use of their car? I love being a geek. I love my fellow geeks. I am part of the geek nation, and because of this I know I can fly across the ocean and have brothers and sisters who I can count on…even if I’ve never met them.