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It’s Our Turn: Previously on Geek Week

OK, I’ll admit it. The truth is out. Now you’ll know the real me…I am a nerd. (Or geek, whatever you call it.) Disney. Star Wars. Marvel superheroes. Doctor Who. Lord of the Rings. Books and movies. You name it.

So to pay homage to my healthy obsession, which my younger sister shares, we attended Comic Con, a three-day gathering of nerds, a geek week if you will, at the Minneapolis Convention Center a couple weekends ago.

Getting there was an adventure in and of itself. Four-lane traffic, all lanes packed full of cars, the iPhone GPS “Charles” and my sister both fighting for my attention. Not an ideal situation. Especially when Charles says to turn left just as I pass the turn. So I fight, force and fudge my way to the outside lane to turn at the next block, but then Charles re-computes and tells me to turn right. Argh!

As soon as we arrived in the Convention Center and I saw a person sitting against the wall wearing a cape, sporting a staff, and rocking hairy hobbit feet, I knew I had entered the desired domain, Comic Con.

I was surrounded by geeks garbed in nerd-wear. There goes a Stormtrooper. She looks like she stepped out of a Jane Austen novel. Whoa, Batman, Green Lantern and Superman are really out of shape.

(No, I did not dress up in case you were wondering.)

When we walked by all of the autograph booths set up for the guest celebrities, it took on a surreal atmosphere. Gilbert Gottfried. Nathan Fillion. Ralph Macchio. No way!

After the culture shock wore off a bit, we explored the area filled with vendors selling T-shirts, comic books, toys, collectibles, original artwork, signed posters, stuffed animals and a ton more.

The highlight of the day was when we attended “Out of the Shire with Sean Astin,” a panel where my sister and I and the rest of the audience could ask actor Sean Astin anything our little hearts desired.

(In case you don’t know, Sean Astin starred as Mikey in The Goonies, Sam in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Rudy in Rudy, among others.)

One little 6-ish-year-old boy asked the burning question that was on his mind: “How old are you?” Needless to say, it elicited roaring laughter from the audience.

It was bizarre being in the same room as a celebrity. In our society today, we chalk these people up to be super humans, but seeing him sitting there at the table, answering our questions, adjusting his glasses, drinking water…he’s simply human, no more human than you or me.

But…that didn’t stop my sister and me from paying big bucks to get a photo taken with him. I have no shame.

It was a nice experience though. I used to think that there’d be some sparkling, shining moment when you meet your hero, that bells would toll and all would be right with the world. It doesn’t happen quite like that.

We’re all human. Celebrities and non. I am all for a celebrity bringing inspiration, motivating me to be a better person, bringing me joy and laughter with their work, but there’s a fine line between inspiration and idolization. I’ve learned it’s hard to keep them separate, especially in the nerd world, but it’s possible. After all, there’s only One who should be worshipped.

By the end of the day, we were both tuckered out and ready to head back to the University of Northwestern, St. Paul where my sis was going to star in a one-act play.

I could have spent hours more just roaming the Con. But the evening had to end. We had to come back to Earth and rejoin reality.

So now you know. My name is Jessica Sly. And I am a nerd.

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“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.