Our freshman outing was a mixture of results, but we knew that the full experience would definitely be a far superior experience. When the preregistration rolled around, we were split in our badge types; some got 4 days plus preview night, some got 3 or 2 days. Jeanette was having her freshman experience here and was excited to take it all in for the first time. My plan was to get all the things before she arrived, and to guide her through the best chaos of the year. However, the best laid plans often go awry, so while I felt I knew enough, I had much to learn about the convention, especially about getting what I wanted.
The narrative of this convention starts with getting our badges. The system was still not without its bugs, but we still lucked out and a couple of us got preview night badges. For those not in the know, preview night is the coveted prize of badges as this allows you first access to the exhibition hall, which in turn allows you the ability to see and experience the marketing wonder. The preview night badge also provides the opportunity to get your hands on the often coveted SWAG or purchase the slew of exclusives (some for preview night alone) which collectors desperately seek and investors quickly turn for profit. I made the trek down early with another lucky badge holder while the rest opted to come into the convention later on Thursday to Friday.
My first preview night was hands down amazing. I was able to walk through the exhibit hall without being shoulder to shoulder with other attendees, I literally go to grab every single piece of swag I wanted and on top of that got a hold of a couple of exclusives for Jeanette. It definitely was satisfying to my inner hoarder to get a hold of so many things I wanted and a bunch of things I didn’t.
I spent most of this convention going solo, wandering here and there waiting for the remainder of my party to arrive. At this point, it is all a blur, but I know that I did have a blast attending random panels, and taking in all the glory of the weekend.
One thing that was special was the fact that this was the first time that Jeanette was attending and I wanted to show her the ropes (one day at SDCC the year before and I thought I knew everything). When she did arrive, I asked her what her game plan was, so she had the ambition to suggest going to both Ballroom 20 and Hall H on a Saturday. She was fairly certain we could see the Once Upon a Time panel, with enough of a time buffer to see Iron Man 3. I was certain we would not, but I promised to stick with her, since it was her first time at the event, she said it was unnecessary, but thanked me anyway.
We prepared for Ballroom 20 perfectly fine and got solid seats for the event. Jeanette was pretty excited because we had gone to the WonderCon panel that year and it was a great experience, SWAG included, so we thought that the SDCC version would have to eclipse it. Sadly, that was not the case. While there was a far larger cast present, the second season had not started filming, so there was actually very little to talk about that was new. It was unfortunate, because the cast was pretty excited to be there, but they couldn’t reveal anything to people like Jeanette and I, who had heard it all before.
After the panel, we had a small debate on what to do, and eventually settled on trying to get into Hall H. I was not supportive of the idea because I knew that Hall H was never cleared out, and that once you got in, you tend to stay in. Jeanette felt that over time, people would trickle out and there were about 5-6 hours between when we lined up to the time of the panel. I felt like it was a waste, and that Jeanette should see more of what SDCC had to offer, while she wanted me to get what I wanted.
In the end, we didn’t get in. There were a variety of mishaps in Hall H, namely a bathroom malfunction, that led to people being sent out to use other restrooms, and preventing a proper head count, and thus, leaving us in line, while hundreds of empty chairs, and thousands of eager fans watched Robert Downey, Jr. dance down the epic halls of H. I was bitter after that point, both because it wasted Jeanette’s time and that I didn’t get in. Jeanette argued that we would have got in had it not been for that issue. It didn’t help to change my demeanor. Once it was over, my friends came out and I asked them how it was. One friend said, “It was cool. You know… it was alright”.
I said, “Come on, how was it really?”
I will be honest and not proud, hours after they came out, I was angry that I missed it, mad at my girlfriend for not heeding my infinite wisdom, and existentially down trodden at the following straws (Lolita’s was closed! Waitress forgot only my beer!) that broke my back, like tiny little Banes in an endless Knightfall.
This was however a great moment for me to learn about better setting up my own expectations. I wanted so bad to be in Hall H that I let the fact that I didn’t get in ruin my evening. I apologized to my friends and Jeanette for being a child about it, but also vowed to set my own agendas and do the con the way I wanted to (I often tell Jeanette to consider herself single during SDCC, because if our agendas don’t match up, we are going our separate ways for the day). There is so much going on at the event, that sometimes sticking together isn’t ideal. That may sound selfish, and probably is, but I have found that part of what I love about the event is to hear about my friends’ experiences when I’m not there. It’s also not to say that we don’t stick together, but a con isn’t just for one of us, so it’s valuable to know that no feelings are hurt if we wander off. We’re also adults that can take care of ourselves, so no one needs hand holding.
That Sunday ended a great weekend with one major hiccup. It was a nice way to casually end a weekend. Jeanette got to do he first cosplay at SDCC, and we took some much needed time to just take everything in. My sophomore outing was truly an experience of being a “wise fool”, but the following years proved far better, as I now come in with the mindset that this event is something I should cherish, because one day, I won’t have the luck of getting a hold of the key to this coveted event.
Thanks for reading!