In order for me to tell you the very best thing that happened at ComicCon, I need to rewind things a bit…to 1997.
Once upon a time, believe it or not, there was a 16-year-old version of me.
And suddenly, as if from a granted wish, a brand new television network aimed at teeny boppers came crashing into my teenage life. With the introduction of the WB Network, a delightful new television program titled “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” became my new obsession.
Photos of David Boreanaz and Sarah Michelle Gellar were pasted with due diligence onto the front of my Trapper Keeper, and conversations during homeroom centered around the Buffy/Angel romance.
By the time college rolled around, I was still in love with the show, and made absolutely certain to record all the episodes on an increasingly growing stack of VHS tapes. (There may have been hour-long training sessions with my mother just to learn how to set the VCR to record. I wasn’t messing around, y’all.)
One day, as the stars aligned and kismit did her duty, I met Jenna, a fellow college freshman who also spent her free time lost in the world of Sunnydale. And we became fast friends.
A friendship born on a shared adoration of Joss Whedon is one that lasts a lifetime. And Jenna and I are, as you all know, still the best of friends. We still talk about Buffy, quote Buffy, and relive our favorite Buffy moments, each and every time we get together. It may not be the focus of our adult lives, but it still one of our most favorite things in life.
So when I found out that Nicholas Brendon (AKA Xander Harris) was signing autographs at ComicCon this year, I made it my life’s mission to meet him.
There was just one problem—Jenna wasn’t with me.
Meet Flat Jenna:
I chose a few of my favorite shots (provided by Jenna and her mom, Deb), cut them out, pasted them to card stock, and packed them in our book bag every day, so that I’d have Jenna with me at ComicCon.
So, when the time came to find Nicholas Brendon’s booth, I pulled out Flat Jenna and waited, excitedly, for my turn to meet him.
As we approached his table, a huge grin spread over his face. “Hi guys!” he said brightly. And before I had the opportunity to answer, he pointed at Flat Jenna and said, “Who’s that? I get to hear the story, right?”
As he signed my comic book, I told Xander about my best friend. I told him how we used practically every moment of our spare time in college watching Buffy reruns with Brian, passing pints of Ben and Jerry’s back and forth. I told him how we still quoted the show, knew all the words to the musical episode, and how, years later, Buffy was still something we talked about on a regular basis.
Most importantly, I got to tell him how the show brought me together with the person who is not only my best friend, but also the mother of my godchildren, and the closest thing to a sister that I’ve ever had.
“That is too awesome,” he said, and pushed back from the table. “C’mere and give me a hug.”
My wonderful, amazing, quick-with-the-camera husband caught the moment on film.
(Note the closed eyes, people. This was a serious hug.)
After he released me, we turned to the camera for the photo we’d actually paid for. I held the perfect version of Flat Jenna in my trembling hands, her tiny little thumb pointing in surprise at the celebrity we both never imagined we’d actually meet. And the photo turned out just brilliantly.
(Kudos, hubby. You rock.)
Just as I thought the moment was coming to a close, Nicholas said, “Hold on a second, I get to hold her, right?”
He took Flat Jenna from my hands and, in a moment of Xander-worthy confusion, we shuffled around each other until Jenna was pointing at me.
Nicholas put his arm around me again and said, “That’s the way it should be, anyway–you guys are the stars here.”
We thanked him profusely. The true definition of kindness, he made me feel as if we’d been chatting together for at least twenty minutes. (Brian swears it was less than five.) But the point is that he didn’t just listen as I went on and on about my experience of his stardom. He was attentive. He asked questions. And he seemed genuinely moved by our story. So thank you, Nicholas Brendon, for making this fan’s dream come true.
As we walked away, signed book tucked under my arm, Flat Jenna still in my hands, I started shaking. “I can’t believe I just met Xander. I can’t believe…I…just…met…XANDER!” I nearly dropped Flat Jenna as I pulled out my cell to call Real Life Jenna. “I have to tell her right now!”
We stepped out into the breezeway and I listened to the dial tone, nearly jumping out of my skin as I waited for my best friend to answer her phone.
“Hey, sweetie!” she said brightly.
“You’ll never believe what just happened!” I said, and promptly burst into tears. “I just met Xander!!!”
And that’s when the Squee Heard Round The World happened. Only it was Jenna, not me.
I told her the story and she was just as excited as I was about the whole encounter. I imagined her standing right in front of me, of us holding hands and jumping up and down and enjoying the moment together. As we hung up the phone, I wiped the tears away and smiled up at my husband.
“That was the most awesome thing at ComicCon, EVER,” I said. And he agreed.
I gave Jenna a frame this past weekend. In it was THE version of Flat Jenna held by Nicholas Brendon. So now, a tiny piece of that moment lives on from the top of the curio cabinet in her dining room.
My encounter with Nicholas Brendon takes the ComicCon cake, not only because I got to meet and touch and talk to a member of the Buffyverse, but because I got to make my best friend a part of the moment, too. It will go down in history as the most squeeworthy moment at ComicCon.
I’ll just have to try and top it next year. ;0)