Saturday, April 14, 2007

How I Found Sex & Love At The New York ComicCon
Part One

Slow dancing with David G. in his kitchen to Richard Cheese singing a lounge version of "You Oughta Know." Two sets of plastic Marvel Comics action figures watch from their discreet perches above his kitchen shelves -- roughly 200 of then separated out by good guys and bad guys. Across from us an Archangel figure is mounted on the wall like a piece of modern sculpture.

"Marvel Legends," I remember telling him when seeing those toys for the first time. "Whoa. Good stuff. Good sculpts."

What does dating a fangirl really mean?

It means exactly that -- being with a woman who doesn't see 200 action figures in the kitchen as a minus, and who can appreciate the difference between the Marvel Legends line and that early-90s Toy Biz crap.

I never planned on dating David.

No, that's not true. When I first saw him at the New York Comic Con in February, I eagle-eye zoned in on him and planned on dating him. I rarely use such forwardness. Despite periodically joking that comic cons are my "meat market."

But on that Sunday as I walked into the crowded convention center, I had no intention of getting involved with another man. I wasn't even really intent on doing the ol' comic book pimparoo -- passing out business cards, shaking hands, and making a lot of crazy promises.

I didn't exactly want to be there at all. I was tired. I had spent every free moment working on the manuscript for my agent. I was physically and emotionally spent. And the act of so intensely reviewing every aspect of my life as a comic fan left me ambivalent regarding the industry. Well, ambivalent was a plus, a step up from abso-f**king-lutely jaded and spent. But still.

I was also intensely ambivalent about running into any of my former DC cohorts. Honestly, I preferred not to. I stuck w/Marvel & Artist's Alley. Sometimes, I would catch a glimpse of so-and-so and squint and think, "Hm. That's him now. Three years." Then it was back to Artist's Alley, or hanging out with one of several pockets of friends & associates.

I had a Catwoman mask in my knapsack. There were always chicks at these cons dressed as Emma Frost & Black Canary & whatnot & I thought I might experiment. I said to my friend Hassan,

"Dare me to put this on & pull a Sean Young?"

I saw the mask as part of a possible "Occasional Superheroine" crimefighting costume. Every superheroine should have at least a mask or knee-high vinyl boots.

"Occasional Superheroine" was a name that, among other things, stood for personal female disaster. It stood for this "batshit insane" rant written one tense morning following a humiliating failed attempt to talk down my $11,000+ bill at the hospital. It was a laundry-list of every man who let me down in my life. It was pretty damn-near nihilistic, the narrative of a personal apocalypse.

"Sorry very much for the incidents that destroyed you," wrote one overseas reader. The use of the word "destroyed" hit me particularly deeply.

Was I destroyed?

Could there be a "chapter two?"

I was still scared of sex. I couldn't give sex to men. Me and Donovan gave it the old college try. But I felt damaged, unmarketable. Or, if marketable, only as an "angry comic chick."

The day I met David, I was wearing a tight T-shirt that depicted Snoopy sticking his tongue out and had the phrase "Stop Staring At Me!" on the top.

I think Snoopy was right over my boobs.

David had showed up for the Valiant Comics panel, which I was scheduled to speak at. The only reason I decided to attend the con at all was to fulfill my obligation to panel moderator Jeff Gomez. Jeff was one of my old co-workers at Acclaim/Valiant. So was Hassan. Was it not for them and the Valiant Fans network spearheaded by John Rosas, it is likely that I might not have had the stones to attend these comic cons. But here I was, dragged out of my Batgirl Cave yet again.

And among the smallish but enthusiastic crowd gathering to attend the panel I saw David.

And I said to Self,

"Him. I want to know him better."

Totally unplanned. I literally pushed another person out of the way to talk to him. I pressed my business card (okay, an index card with a hastily-scribbled phone number) in his palm and said, "We should hang out."

"That would be awesome," he answered.

"We should really hang out," I repeated for emphasis.

Then I said,

"You know, we should really hang out."

"That would be awesome," he replied.

David didn't exude the usual fanboyness (besides the fact that he was attending the Valiant Comics panel discussion), so I was caught a little off-guard. No superhero shirt. He had a portfolio in his hands filled with samples of his advertising work, which he showed me. In the seconds before the panel started, I hastily tried to figure him out, to pin him down. He was different.

My cynicism, finely tempered through various and sundry events including a torn cervix and boyfriends who wanted to get an agreement up-front that I was "down" for pregnancy termination in the off-chance we screwed up, hemmed and hawed:

"Watch out, Xena," Cynical Superheroine cautioned, "This might be a trap. Ares might be behind it. You're better off playing pinochle with Joxer, drinking a warm beverage, and calling it a night."

But then I thought, as I approached the podium for the panel discussion, as I saw David in the crowd --

--what did I think? Should I tell you? Should I tell you what I thought, this utterly jaded, angry, distrustful, damaged Occasional Superheroine?

"Oh God...I know this sounds crazy. But. Please. Him."

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