In case you missed them, here is Part I and here is Part II.
Doulgar and I were both sad when we awoke on Sunday. Yes, we still had until the end of the day, but neither of us was ready to leave Nashville and all the magic that had so far occurred there. So we booked our rooms for another night and decided to leave the next morning.
We weren’t exactly sure how to carry out our plan for that day. First thing when we arrived, we walked by and saw that James was not at his booth. So we headed back near the front door to decide what to do. A moment later, I saw James arrive with the manager. “Hey!” he said, smiling as he walked past. I smiled and waved back, speechless as ever.
“Doulgar!” I said. “Doulgar! He’s here! He just arrived, see?” I pointed.
“So, should we go present our gift to him?”
I figured we may as well. It was the last day and people would be leaving early. We didn’t have a lot of time to squander.
James’s manager had been giving us more and more dirty looks every time we went up to talk to him. It was getting really awkward. We knew we totally deserved it. And yet, even though she glared at us like the creepy stalkers we were, as soon as we got past her to James, he greeted us as warmly as the very first time. He treated us like guests he had invited to his home; she treated us like Jehovah’s Witnesses at her door.
When we approached, his manager actually said, “You again?” She wasn’t even attempting to be polite anymore. It was very clear exactly what she thought of us. But, seriously–it isn’t like we get to hang out with James Marsters every day! I think that was one of only two times we went up to him without buying something. We spaced out all of our autographs all weekend so we’d have legit excuses to go over there. And still we get the dirty looks! But like I said, we knew we deserved it. Scorned though we were, we were allowed to pass through.
“Hi, it’s us, here to stalk you again,” Doulgar said.
“No, it’s cool! Good to see you,” he said, and turned to smile at me. I once again found myself without speech, but each time we saw him these moments were more and more brief.
“We brought you a gift,” Doulgar said, and explained about the CDs.
James was very excited. “You’ve given me the greatest gift that anyone could ever give someone–the gift of music!” he said. Quote of the day. Maybe, just maybe, come Megacon five months later, he’d still remember us.
We now had no more plans, so we decided to spend the majority of our remaining time in panels.
Billy Dee Williams was…well. He was Billy Dee Williams. I don’t know how else to describe Billy Dee Williams, because he’s like an adjective all on his own. There was some guy in the panel discussion who pissed off his manager, though, and me at the same time, by asking, “How big of a jerk was Harrison Ford when you were filming Return of the Jedi?” Instantly I bristled. Like I’ve said before, there is only one celebrity crush above James Marsters, and it is Harrison Ford. From everything I’ve ever read/seen, Harrison Ford is a really cool guy. One does not insult Harrison Ford in my presence. I growled. Silently.
Billy Dee looked confused and confirmed my own thoughts (here is an article by someone who attended, with the exact quote), and his manager said coldly, “Why would you say that? Don’t talk that way about people you don’t know.”
There was another guy who asked Billy Dee if he was aware of the obscure punk rock song bearing his name. He had the album with him and happened to have a spare copy at home, so he gave his copy to Billy Dee and they read the lyrics out loud. Then they told him to come by later for a free autograph. That was pretty cool.
We then attended the Henry Winkler panel, which I found very inspiring, because he talked about growing up and struggling with dyslexia and how his whole life he believed he was stupid, and his parents called him “Dumb Dog”. All of that really hit home for me. And he said that his whole mindset changed when he realized what his gift was. He figured out that everyone has their own gift, and once they realize what it is, they have the potential to be great at that thing. It was all very uplifting. Anyway, he had to cut it short because his plane was leaving at 2:30, so he said he was returning to his booth and would only be there for another half-hour.
After the panel, Doulgar had to use the restroom, so I sat down to wait. About a minute later, Henry Winkler and his manager came walking around the corner. Henry looked over and smiled and waved at me, and I called out, “I just saw your panel, and I found it very inspiring!”
Henry stopped walking. He said that he couldn’t hear me and asked me to come closer. I went over and said, “I found your panel discussion very inspiring. Thank you! I have ADD and my whole life I always believed I was stupid, too.”
“And when you grew up, you realized you were brilliant!” he said.
“Well, yeah!” I smiled.
His manager was hurrying him along. Henry started speeding along beside him, but he turned back to me and held out his hand. I hesitated for the merest of seconds to glance over my shoulder; Doulgar was not out of the restroom yet. My phone was in the car so I would have no way of reaching him to let him know where I was. I could be lost for a very long time in that building. But The Fonz wanted me to walk with him, so walk with him I did. I took his hand and on we went. He kept trying to make conversation with me, and his manager kept interrupting. Twice he asked me what I do, and twice I did not have a chance to reply.
We stopped at a drink machine. “Do you like coffee?” he offered.
“Not really,” I said, feeling rather rude, but I didn’t want to accept a drink and put it right in the trash.
“…But I will have a smoothie!” I smiled very widely. I love smoothies.
“That’s my girl!” he said. “What kind of smoothie?”
Normally I would stop and consider ALL the smoothie choices. Every single one. But sensing the urgency of the situation, I just said, “Strawberry!”
The smoothie was taking forever, and his manager was rushing him along again, so he paid for my smoothie and went along.
“Is he a nice guy?” said the drink stand girl. “He seems like he’d be a really nice guy.”
“He’s a total sweetheart!” I said.
I turned and saw Doulgar approaching.
“The Fonz just bought me a smoothie,” I said.
“You know, while I was in the restroom, I was asking myself, who is she going to pick up for the minute or so that she’s by herself?”
“The Fonz. I picked up The Fonz.”
We decided to go catch him at his booth before he left so I could thank him once again for the smoothie. When he saw us approaching, he put his hands on his hips and opened his mouth in mock surprise. I grinned and said, “Thank you again for the smoothie!”
“You are most welcome, my dear,” he said.
While Doulgar paid for a photo, Henry asked me, “So, are you two brother and sister?” (Yes, this was the second time he had asked us that.)
I glanced at Doulgar, knowing he was listening. I grinned. “Yeah,” I said, “yeah, he’s my brother.”
“Oh, good!” said Henry Winkler.
I made sure the smoothie was visible in the picture.
We said goodbye to The Fonz, and I suggested we go tell James about my smoothie before departing.
James’s manager was certainly not thrilled to see us again. But at least I had an opening line again this time. And each time we saw him became easier and easier for me to speak to him. He was just so nice.
“Hi,” I said, “we just came to say goodbye. We’re about to head back to Florida.”
As I waited much too long to write this entry, I can no longer recall what was said immediately after that. Doulgar was saying something while I sipped my smoothie.
“The Fonz bought me a smoothie,” I said nonchalantly to James.
“What!? That’s AWESOME!” he said, and his whole face lit up. “Is he here?”
“Yeah…do you guys not know beforehand who’s going to be here?” I said.
“Well, I knew at one point he was supposed to be here, but I wasn’t sure if he had canceled. I haven’t seen him anywhere.”
“Oh, he’s been hitting on her all weekend,” Doulgar said, and James laughed. Doulgar explained about how in his panel discussion, Henry Winkler was talking about his parents wanting him to go into the family business of buying and selling wood, and he didn’t want to do that because he wanted to be an actor. “Well, I’d say he’s been selling wood all weekend!”
James laughed so hard he slapped the table with his hand. He told us that when he was growing up, he thought Henry Winkler was just the coolest guy, and was so disappointed to learn he was such a goofball offscreen and not really anything like the character of The Fonz. But then when he got the role of Spike, he was also a goofball offscreen. “I’m nothing like that character,” he said. “He’s a total badass and I’m a really nice guy. So I realized, in a way, I’m kind of like The Fonz of Buffy.”
Now that I had finally found my tongue, there were people behind us in line again, so finally it was time to say goodbye to James until next time.
“We’ll probably see you in Orlando in March,” I said. And he shook our hands and I stared into his eyes one last time, and…that was that.
There wasn’t a whole lot left for us to do, so we looked at what panels were left and decided to go see Ray Park, and after that, we called it a day.
We found an awesome British pub in Printer’s Alley (that you had to go downstairs to get into–nothing like that in Florida, of course) to eat, because we figured there at least we wouldn’t be surrounded by country music. That place would totally be my hangout if I lived in Nashville.
Afterward we went to walk around the city until it was dark. The weather was absolutely exquisite. The whole weekend it was exquisite.
I stepped over one of those grates where there’s steam coming up from it. It totally took me by surprise when my skirt blew right up like that famous picture of Marilyn Monroe. That doesn’t happen when I walk over grates in downtown Jax. I giggled with excitement at getting to play Marilyn for a moment and made sure to hold my skirt down when we walked over the next one.
We went to the Capitol building to watch the sun set over the mountains and the entire city of Nashville. Sweet, fancy Moses–so gorgeous. I hadn’t seen anything like it in years. We waited until there was zero color left in the sky before leaving.
Oh–important note. At the Nashville Capitol building, there’s a mock-up of the Liberty Bell. I laid down on my back, stuck my head up in there, and licked the inside of it, out of respect to one of my two favorite How I Met Your Mother characters. I knew if I did not, I would always regret not having done so. And it was legen–wait for it–dary! It also coated my mouth with nastiness. But it was so worth it. Anything for the story, I always say.
We couldn’t freeze time forever. Morning came, we ate our complimentary waffles, and it was time to go. Along the way, we stopped and got some peach cider, some pumpkin fudge, some alligator jerky…all that kind of stuff you can’t get unless you’re on the road.
And then we were back in Florida, and it was very sad, but only because we had a totally epic adventure!
Oh, and in case I didn’t mention it before, The Fonz bought me a smoothie, and James Marsters told me I was very beautiful.
Some last day sights: