Today is my wedding anniversary. Well, not just mine actually. I should say that it is our wedding anniversary. When my wife walked down the aisle 14 years ago I thought I would never love her more. Of course that was before she bought me the best anniversary present ever. Who knew that after 14 years, love would just keep on growing? You see, this year as my present my wife got us tickets to meet my personal hero, the idol o’ millions, the ever-lovin’ executor of excelsior himself, Stan Lee!
I know you know who Stan Lee is, but in case you recently developed amnesia I will remind you that Stan basically created Marvel comics, coming up with crazy ideas like Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, The X-Men, and so many more! And he was going to be in Boston for his final east coast appearance. I mean, the guy is about to be 95. I would be tired of flying around the country too at that point. So this was it. He was never going to be closer again, and we were going to have breakfast with him!
The Boston Fan Expo was running from Friday through Sunday, and we had tickets only for the final day, which is when the breakfast was happening. With a concert at the church Friday night, this was not going to be a whole weekend experience. So we drove down to Boston on Saturday morning with the intention of picking up our tickets and checking out the city. We parked the car, checked into the hotel, and walked the twenty-five minutes over to the small city that is the Convention Center. There was a front door, which we walked through, and that was where our accidental adventure began.
The front door was on level 1, but we were told that the special tickets counter was on level zero. No problem. Down the escalators we went, down into the depths of madness. A Tardis with a fez almost crashed into us. Supergirl ran off after Pikachu. Two young guys were swordfighting across the way. We were going to have to make a run for it. Bobbing and weaving through the Psylockes and the Batmen we found the cavernous ticket basement, with no lines! Perfect. I walked up to the counter and told them I was there to pick up my tickets for Sunday.
“Nope, sorry, we can’t give out tickets for tomorrow until 2 pm,” she told me.
“It’s 1:55,” I mentioned casually, suppressing the rage.
“Let me ask my manager,” she said cheerfully, spinning around in her swivel chair.
It was agreed that we were to receive our tickets 4 minutes early, and also did any know where they had put the tickets? After some quick searching and sleuthing the wristbands were discovered and we were ready to go. Ready to go somewhere else, that is, because this was only the regular ticketing area. For our special Stan Lee passes, we had to go to the special ticket area. And where was that? Well, we had to cross the vast basement of ticketing, traverse through the battlefields of geekdom, turn right at the ATMs of inertia, follow the yellow brick road past the cliffs of insanity, second star to the right, and straight on till morning. Pretty simple, actually.
We did find the special ticket counter, there was no line, and within mere moments we had what we needed and were ready to leave. We turned around and, lo and behold, a doorway to the outside world was literally feet in front of us. Amazing! We walked through the sliding glass doors and outside into assumed freedom. Little did we know we had walked into a trap. The further we went around the building, the more we realized that there was no way out. We could see level 1, up there above us, circling the building like clouds of angels, tantalizingly out of reach. We passed parking lot after parking lot, barbed wire fence after barbed wire fence, security guard after security guard, until we finally reached the end of our journey. Crossing over some rough stones and grass we found ourselves staring up at a very high fence that went on as far as the eye could see, and on the other side of fence were railroad tracks and desolate wasteland. There was nowhere else to go.
We had been wandering around for close to an hour at this point, and just above us we could see the bridge to the city, connecting to the level 1 that we might never reach again. Turning around sadly, consigned to our fate, we saw a man with a “Staff” badge on, unloading things out of the trunk of his car. “Good sir!” I shouted, “can you tell us how to get out of here?!”
He turned slowly to face us, his face grim. “I’ve never been here before in my life.”
Apparently Fan Expo is a company that produces many Comic Cons, and they travel around the country to various centers. No one that worked there had ever been there before. We were going to have to walk around the entire building, which would take weeks. That was when I saw the door. My wife assured me that small, grey, unmarked would be locked, but I tried it anyway and it opened up into what looked like an industrial kitchen/storage area. I walked through the portal and asked the first person I saw how to get out the labyrinth. This lovely hispanic woman smiled up at me and said if I just went through those large double doors to my left, I would see an escalator that would take us right up to level 1 and freedom. I grinned at my wife, as if to tell her I had once again solved all of our problems, and I thrust myself through those doors, and into the heart of darkness.
We were in the middle of Comic Con. Not the outskirts. Not the sides. Somehow we were in the middle of the back of the celebrity area of the con. Hey, look, it’s Tim Currry! Oh, hi Felicia Day! Boy, we sure weren’t supposed to be there. We had no wristbands on. There were thick lines of anxious people waiting to meet all of these famous folk, and there, barely visible on the horizon of this massive room, was the escalator. And we had to get to it. Ducking and swerving through lines and around wookies we began to slowly pick our way through the crowds, terrified that we were going to be captured and banned from the con the next day. And yet even in my terror there was so much wonder to behold! The costumes, the shops, the movie stars, the energy, it was inescapable. At least for me it was. Every time I stopped to look at something, my wife would remind me that were were one angry security guard away from not meeting Stan Lee. And so we pressed on.
When we finally got to the escalators, just past the large Stan Lee zone, we were horrified to find that they were out of service. And not even just “turned into stairs” out of service, but completely blocked off at the base. How were we going to get up? We needed to find an elevator. Which we did, finally reaching the coveted level 1. But now we were on the wrong side of the building again! Crossing the floor of the con had put us farther from our destination than ever! There was only one thing to do. We had to find someone who worked at the center, but not at the con. Only they would know how to get out. And it was true. We found the people we needed to find, were pointed in the right direction, walked another 23 miles around corridors and through X-Men, and finally arrived back at the door through which we had initially entered. We were free.
We were pretty tired after that, and we still had to walk back to the hotel. But the rest of the evening was a little more relaxing. We met some interesting people at dinner, saw a movie, ran into Daredevil on the street and ate delicious pastries. And in the morning, we met Stan Lee. He was funny and awesome, he signed my copy of Amazing Spider-Man #90, and it was totally worth everything. And then we got to check out the floor in a more chill fashion. We saw Felicia Day speak. We saw Eliza Dushku speak. We got present and souvenirs. I bought way too many comic books. In short, it was incredible.
So what I’m really trying to say here, is that I have the best wife ever. Not only did she take me to meet the other greatest influence on my life, but she also put up with all of my shenanigans. Happy Anniversary! I love you the most! :*