Last night for Firefly

Tuesday night last I attended Firefly at the Mission for the last time.

At least until they do it again.

Even though the show didn’t start until 10:00 PM, I got there at 8:30 PM, because experience has taught me that Portland fans of “Firefly” bring new meaning to the word “fan”. And, sure enough, for this final night, even at 8:30 the line was long, stretching around the corner almost to the rear of the building.

Matt had texted me earlier to let me know that there was someone already inside saving our seats. And on the drive to the theater, Sherry had called to let me know that she and her husband Franz were en route as well. New friends, all, I’d made through just this show. Tuesday nights this summer have been fun because of these new friends.

And I recognized many of the folk in line, too, even though I hadn’t formally been introduced.

There was the guy that Matt and Franz called “Comic Book Guy”, after the Simpsons’ character, despite being thinner and more muscular.

There was the pale-skinned brunette inevitably in a bright red dress, whom I secretly called “Snow White”, and her plain boyfriend I hardly even noticed, playing Scrabble while waiting.

There were the three or four geek girls, beautiful but unaware, dressed in jeans and t-shirts with no makeup or hair-styling at all.

The One True b!x (real name: Christopher Frankonis) was there, hunched, chain-smoking, obviously worried about his employment and his application to Powell’s. I wanted to say something to him, maybe warn him about my own experience at Powell’s… but that was a long time ago, before they unionized, and I’m sure it’s different now. I remembered starting to tell Sherry about b!x’s meeting with Joss Whedon, then realizing that the man himself was standing right behind me, and prompting him to recount it for her. He did.

All these folk and more. So many stories to tell. Before Matt, Sherry and Franz showed up, Comic Book Guy interviewed me for a Firefly-themed podcast, holding an actual black iPod with microphone up to record my answers. I scanned the growing line for any sign of non-iPhone girl, but certain I wouldn’t actually say anything to her.

After we were all inside and seated, waiting for Mike Russell to start the trivia questions and prize giveaway, I still scanned the crowd for familiar faces. Athena, another Portland-based blogger, had been coming to these and she and I had exchanged occasional emails about introducing ourselves here, but hadn’t. I’d only seen pictures of her, and in the dark of the theater, I couldn’t be sure. She’d told me before that she and her friends liked to sit in the front row of the balcony, and as I looked (our group liked to sit off to stage left on the balcony, so I had a direct line of sight) I saw a girl that could’ve been Athena. Maybe. Probably not.

In line, earlier, Sherry and Franz had mentioned that today was their second wedding anniversary. Franz had given his wife a copy of every comic book that Joss Whedon has had a hand in. All the Buffy comics. All the Angel comics. The Firefly comics. Even obscure X-Men issues, or other titles I can’t recall right now. Talk about knowing your partner! But now, as the crowd kept coming in, and the promotional folk from the radio station KUFO laid out the prizes for tonight on the stage, and hung the banners advertising their station, and the line for food and beer ran its course, Sherry turned to me and said, “I should go flag down Mike and have him do an announcement for our anniversary! That’d embarrass Franz!”

I smiled. “Let me do it! I can check out the prizes while I’m down there! Plus Franz’ll be less suspicious.”

Sherry agreed and off I went. I planned my route to go past the girl who might (probably not) be Athena, and when I got closer I asked, “Excuse me, are you named Athena?”

I got a blank look and a shaken head back. Hmmm. I realized that that’s kind of an unusual name, and has a lot of resonance for a geek, and so my question might have come across almost as strangely out of the blue as “Do you have an iPhone?” I continued downstairs, chuckling to myself.

Found Mike Russell, and even though his comic alter-ego seems small, Russell himself is broad-shouldered and tall. Well, taller than me, anyway. I wondered briefly about mentioning the fact that he owes me a comic… but no. I’m not in a hurry for it. Was also tempted to pester him about how I can start selling my writing in the local market… but again, no. When I finish the novel I started during NaNoWriMo last year, then I’ll start working my contacts. For now, I just passed on the mention of Sherry and Franz’s anniversary. Russell seemed happy to make mention of it and scrambled for a pen to write down the info. I checked out the prizes and hoped I could win something on tonight, the final night.

But the past questions seemed hard, and many of the folk here were much more informed than me. I had an ace up my sleeve, though, because Sherry had been studying the wikis and we’d all been practicing in line. Maybe I could win something tonight.

Back upstairs, with Franz none the wiser, I kept looking around. Spotted another girl who might, or might not, be Athena, sitting on the far side of the balcony. I excused myself and walked over. The long walk. She seemed to spot me heading her way, and kept talking to her girl friend. I stood there in front of her for a moment. Her friend finally noticed me and pointed me out, patiently waiting, to her.

“Excuse me… are you called Athena?” I don’t know why I phrased it that way. It sounded even more like a cheesy pick-up line. Inwardly I winced, but from reading Athena’s blog I had the sense that she would’ve laughed with me, not at me, for this whole thing. She seems cool like that.

This girl, though, just shook her head, said “No”, and went back to her friend. OK, I was done with cold approaches for the night.

Franz was suitably embarrassed by Russell’s announcement, though I’m sure he would pretend he wasn’t. The funny part was that Sherry seemed shy, too, even though it was her idea. I had to encourage both of them to stand up, as the crowd erupted in romantic applause.

During the trivia questions, Sherry wanted something, anything, signed by Joss. But instead she won a DVD with a copy of the previous week’s “bonus features”, hand-burned by Mike Russell. I forget the question she won on.

When Russell announced that the next prizes were fan-made copies of Firefly character Jayne’s stocking cap. But when Russell announced the hat-styled cell phone cozy, I turned to Sherry and said, “Ooooh… my iPhone would look so hot in one of those!”

The question was: “Name three Blue Sun-logoed products that have appeared in Firefly.”

I stood up, even though I didn’t know the answer. As I was standing up, Sherry and Franz whispered to me what they thought the answers were: “Tomatoes, corn, and cola.” When Russell pointed up at me, I repeated what they’d said.

Russell looked down at his notes. “Hmm… no. That’s close. You’ve got two of them. Do you have another answer?”

I looked back at my friends. They were blank. Shook their heads. I stood there for what seemed like minutes but was likely only a few seconds. I shook my head. Nope. That’s all I’ve got.

Russell asked the crowd if anyone had the full answer. “If no one gets it, you’ll win it,” he said to me. But another girl gave the third item, an answer which was obvious in retrospect, seeing that it’s one of the most popular items to be found online: a t-shirt, worn by Jayne several times in the series. Damn.

“That girl got my iPhone cozy!” But I wasn’t really mad. And Russell gave me a copy of the “Serenity: Those Left Behind” graphic novel for getting two out of three.

Non-iPhone girl was there, too. Showed up late, with her two friends, and was dressed to the nines in a black-and-red dress. She’s a bit intimidating, actually. Even Sherry said she had no idea how I could approach her again. “I’m sorry,” Sherry said, “she’s a tough cookie.” I decided it wasn’t worth it. I’ll still have the story to tell; that will suffice.

Thanks for the memories, everyone.

Just as I didn’t want Firefly to end, just as I didn’t want these showings to end, I don’t want this night to end. I don’t want this blog post to end, either.

Sadly, all good things come to an end.