When I tell you that I am a Geek, you'd better believe it.
A Nerd. Dweeb. Dork. Whatever.
The fact is, I am a Geek with a capital G mostly because of Star Wars. I admit it.
I swiftly graduated the Nerd Scale from simple fan to Convention Speaker in a few short years, working with the likes of Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Ray Park (Darth Maul), Dave Prowse (Darth Vader), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Warwick Davis (Wicket), Lucasfilm staff and more. I was even invited to visit "Mecca" to all Star Wars fans - Skywalker Ranch in California. The opportunities that opened up were like an exquisite dream to a science fiction Geek like me.
But the Dark Side of fandom reared its ugly head while I was working The Star Wars Celebration II convention in 2002.
Upon arrival in Indianapolis, I shared a limo with Phil Brown (Uncle Owen), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and their wives. Peter really is very tall, and has trouble walking on those long, bowed legs. We chatted on our way to the hotel, and it was nice to meet his wife who was very personable. When he climbed out of the limosine, Peter dropped his sunglasses. I retrieved them for him without so much as a "thankyou" from the big Wookiee.
Ah well, no biggie, I thought.
Like most people working the convention, I was extremely busy so I had to squeeze in opportunities to get autographs whenever I had a free moment. Carrie was extremely pleasant; we discussed our daughters who are very close in age. She signed a photo I had already had Mark Hamill sign. Since we had already met, I thought getting Peter to sign it too would be easy...
Because I was staff, I didn't have to wait in the huge lines in the Autograph Hall. Peter's wife was helping him at his booth and she remembered me from the limo so we started chatting. I asked him if they were keeping him busy. Without looking up, he growled "Yes. And I am taking a break!" So I politely asked if I could just leave a photo for him to sign.
To my horror, he got up, leaned forward, lowered his 7 foot frame to my 5 foot 4 level, stared me straight in the eye and yelled "Are you deaf? I said I was TAKING A BREAK!"
"Uh... Um...." I was dumbfounded.
And oh so eloquent. NOT.
"Well? ARE you deaf?" He continued so loud EVERYONE could hear. Even if yes, I were deaf, I would have gotten the message. Loud and clear.
But shock kept me from forming actual words. All I could do was shake uncontrollably as tears welled up in my eyes.
"Errrr.... Ahhh...." Was all my brain could process.
Bravo. Way to stand up for yourself, Maureen.
My ability for a brilliant comeback, or heck, ANY comeback, as usual, failed me.
His wife was mortified... she took my photo and coupons (I paid, just like any other convention goer even though I didn't have to) and told me she would get him to sign it; could I come by to pick it up later?
Stunned, I just nodded and walked away...
Then I considered going back and telling him I didn't even WANT his stupid autograph anymore. But I left it, too scared to return and finally picked it up later that evening after he had left.
How brave am I?
Fortunately, he was the only celebrity that I've had a bad experience with. One of the sweetest people I've met was another Peter; Peter Diamond was a stunt coordinator for all the films, a Tusken Raider and also the Stormtrooper who falls into the chasm during the famous "swing" scene (he taught Mark how to do that trick). He saw what happened, took me aside, hugged me and told me in his crisp English accent that Mayhew was "just a hospital orderly whose height had gotten him the only acting part he ever had. He wasn't a true actor, and didn't appreciate how precious the fans were."
THAT Peter was a Gift. In his seventies, he was like having my own father there. When we parted at the airport after the convention, he kissed me goodbye on the cheek.
I was so sad when I heard he passed on a little while later.
So anyway, that was the day that will forever be remembered as:
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