With blood thundering in my ears

“How’s your day?” the Walgreen cashier asked me in pleasant voice despite toiling away totaling up purchases at the store on the 16th Street Mall.

“I get to have my picture taken with Jason Momoa today,” I replied with a smile.

“You have pictures to pick up?” she asked absently as she turned to search the bin of photos behind her. “Your last name is Momoa?” She asked.

“No, I get to have my picture taken with Jason Momoa,” I repeated.

“I don’t know who that is,” she said.

DenverComicCon is one of the premier sci-fi/comic book/genre conferences in the world and on June 15-17 Denver hosted the event at the Colorado Convention Center. Hundreds of booths offered everything from pins for messenger bags to mind-blowing fine art. More than half the people are in cosplay costume and some are truly remarkable. It’s also a chance to meet the people who play the characters we fall in love with.

My friend Norian adored Jason Momoa long before I learned who he was. She would mention his name and most everyone at work knew who he was and had just seen something he’d been part of. Friends would say, watch ‘The Red Road’ or ‘Road to Paloma’ or ‘Stargate Atlantis‘ and we would go home and watch his roles with rapt attention: Ronon, Khal Drogo, Conan and Aquaman to name just a few. A few of us at work hashed over his role as Philip Kopus. Was he a good guy or a bad guy? Too bad SundanceTV didn’t renew the series for season 3 because we’d have a better idea and more to talk about. Yah, thanks, SundanceTV.

Norian told me once how much she wanted to meet him, get a picture or an autograph. I told her if he comes to Denver ComicCon, I’d pay for her to get a photo-op with him. Two weeks before the event it was announced that he would be signing autographs and doing pictures. The rush for photos was incredible and sold out in less than an hour. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to get a picture with him, too.

The day before he was to spend the day signing autographs and posing for photo ops he posted on Instagram that he was up at EarthRoamer, just down the road from Jerry D’s my most favorite biker bar EVER.

I texted my son with what I thought was a reasonable request under the circumstances:

I didn’t text Jill because she’s the only person I know who can give a digital eyeroll without needing to send a text.

Then I texted my daughter Kate who lives nearby. Keep in mind, this is all in fun, to get a rise out of my children. If you can’t make your kids say, ‘what the hell is mom doing?’ every once and a while then what’s the point? Lucky for me, they play along:

Norian and I made a game plan to go to DCC and try to get a photo op and see if slots would be added and if all else fails, stand in the autograph lines.

My son, Paul and I got to the event more than an hour before the event opened. The place was absolutely packed and we waited in lines and the camaraderie was fun. The guy behind us was dressed as a Ghostbuster and sported an Ecto-pack that set him back $2,100 and weighed 25 pounds. That’s a lot to carry around all day! His wife was dressed up as Hermione Granger and we discussed knitting ‘official’ Harry Potter scarves, one for each house. My friend, Drew knits them and the instructions are specific including the size needles used, yarn, rows, fringes and the finished product looks like the scarves the characters wear on screen.

When the ‘doors’ opened Paul and I went straight to the EPIC Photo Op counter and was told all slots were sold out but we could go stand in line for an autograph.

Paul and I split up – he went to look at the overwhelming displays and I stood in line for an autograph sandwiched next to two … interesting people: a dumpy woman older than me who was positive that when Momoa layed eyes on her, he’d see his soul mate and they’d stroll happily into the sunset and an angry young man who continually played a loud video game and every few minutes he’d mutter, ‘What the fuck is taking so long?’ and would angrily twist his phone and shake it as if to loosen a higher score. He kept moving closer to me until I could have carried him around in my purse.

The guy standing one line over had a book and a box of Voodoo donuts. He talked about how much Momoa inspired him and thought the donuts could begin to show his appreciation. I later saw his post on Instagram and it was cool to see the smile on their faces after reading the post.

Momoa came out and looked at the crowd and said a few words I couldn’t hear over the cheering and hollering. He’d walked out through the wrong curtain and when he re-appeared in the right booth I had my cell phone out to take a video that included the sign that said, ‘NO PHOTOGRAPHY’ but all I did was video my chest because I touched that stupid button on iPhones that turns the image around. My chest looks pretty good on video.

The lot of us stood in line and watched him sign autographs. He kept looking at the lines that grew every minute. It was 10:30 and would be a long day for everyone, no matter if you were standing in line or having your hand go numb from signing photos all day.

Norian hadn’t arrived and I only had $120 and the autographs were $80 each and the line was moving pretty well. I texted Paul and asked if I could borrow $80 to get an autograph for Norian. He happily obliged and brought me the money. I wasn’t getting out of line for anything.

I have no idea why but a DCC volunteer came up to me, me, standing in the middle of the line and told me EPIC had added another photo op at 5:30. I asked Paul if he’d go stand in line for the photo op and he agreed. I waited in between the Momoa Soul Mate and the Angry Gamer and searched the crowd for my tall son returning triumphant with ticket in hand. A few anxious minutes later Paul walked back over with a disappointed look on his face. I assumed the hordes had taken up all the spots and was OK with getting just an autograph.

Paul help up the payment receipt for a 5:30 photo op – group #1.

I left the autograph line (I did my part to prevent carpal tunnel) and we went outside to wait for Norian outside by the D line.

I spoke with two hipsters who were in costume and we talked about their wigs and swords and uncomfortable shoes. I told them I was wearing a costume as well, that I’m actually a 6’2” Swedish bikini model and the old-lady-fat suit keeps my admirers away. They asked me to take a selfie with them and she wrote down my words to tell her mother.

When Norian walked up and I told her we couldn’t get a picture or an autograph. She was disappointed but we had agreed two weeks ago that we had so much fun with waiting for ComicCon and talking about it that the experience was the main thing.

I held up the receipt. She looked like she needed oxygen.

We decided to meet around 5 p.m. to get in line and Paul and I went to lunch and then the quick stop at Walgreens.

Sometimes you have to put yourself in the way of beauty. It’s not like stepping out in front of a flower truck, not like that, it means taking steps to go after something you want. Sometimes the ‘way’ of beauty is through several thousand people, some of them unwashed and sweaty with anticipation.

The best thing I saw was a picture made from the entire script of Deadpool. The catch phrases such as ‘Time to make the chimi-fucking-changas’ were in larger font and strategically placed on the image.

The conference was loud and over-stimulating and I tried to go look at the displays but I spent more time navigating traffic than looking at everything comic related. I passed the time people watching which is easy to do when the guy dressed up like Darth Vader was pretty convincing and the twin Sailor Moons were stunningly accurate. I have to admit most of the costumes were a mystery to me. My comic book education pretty much began with DC, Archie, Betty and Veronica and a cool comic book about the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. My parents wouldn’t let me read Marvel comics because they were too violent. Say what?

I spent a good part of my childhood living in Germany with my parents and we lived off the military base there. That meant comic books in English, Washington apples and Hershey bars were precious commodities and when my mother’s friend delivered 200+ American comic books to our house, I was in English heaven. In the pile was a strong DC presence: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and of course, Aquaman. In that stack of colors and words were some first edition Aquaman comics I still have to this day.

As 5:30 approached Norian and I waited in line in front of a large screen that showed the photo op times and a countdown clock ticked down until it was finally time for line up. Norian was the very picture of joy: anticipation, happiness, hopefulness and promise. As the line began to move, we timed how long in between each flash: 10 seconds. We’d have 10 seconds. That pretty much came down to saying, ‘hi’ then ‘smile’ then off you go. We didn’t care. We were so close.

We were able to watch the five or ten people in line in front of us as they got their op and I was surprised nobody said anything to him. What the hell! Say something to the man!

It came our turn we both said ‘hi’ to him and said ‘hi’ back and smiled (melt). Norian was on his left and I was on his right. They took our picture and Norian stepped away as directed. I looked at Jason Momoa, not a foot away from me and said. “I think you’re awesome.”

I stepped away and he raised his arms and in typical Momoa fashion, seeing joy in all things, he said. “She thinks I’m awesome!” The people there gave a woot and I replied back to him, “And this is an old lady saying it so that’s really something!”

He cracked up and gave me that million-dollar smile.

I gave him my best ‘I-have-an-‘M’-endoresement-on-my-driver’s-license-I-don’t-pack-with-anyone-my-bike-is-1100cc-hang-loose’ hand sign and he laughed again.

So now, Norian and I have a picture to remember our adventure and putting ourselves in the way of beauty; because his energy is beautiful. I wish I had half of the energy he does now, and especially when I had the place in life to use it like a magical paintbrush.

You have to find people who inspire you whether it’s their energy, the way they live their life or how they choose to express their art and creativity. Momoa has many qualities I admire but honestly, I have my own hero here in Denver in my friend, Norian. She is fearless, joyful and lives her life with energetic abandon. I’m lucky to have such a friend who celebrates the small things in life that make it fun such as a photo op with a who I’m sure, like all men, needs to be coached to put his socks in the hamper.

Thank you, Norian! I wouldn’t have done this without you and beauty would have passed me by.

Norian and I will be first in line for tickets when ‘Aquaman’ comes out on December 21 because it’s fun and in life you need something to look forward to, no matter how small. Life is made up of small things that give joy: friends, blue skies, mountain snows, well-seen pictures, purple guitars, kittens and handsome men that just make you smile, no matter how old you are, no matter how far you are from them. In our hearts beauty is always nearby.

After watching a group of women at work swoon over the latest pictures from Momoa’s upcoming movie, ‘Aquaman’ one male friend summed up his feelings on being in the shadow of our favorite crush: “That guy really hurt us.”

Sorry, boys, we love you but … oh, Jason Momoa.

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