The lines that used to separate those definitions have been blurring over the decades, to the point where the word "dork" is now used as a term of endearment. Today I experienced an event where I was privileged to see the point in the universe where all of these terms became meaningless. I went to MegaCon.
MegaCon is a convention for comic book fans, Japanese animation fans, collectible action figure fans, fantasy film fans and sci-fi film and television fans. In other words, it's a convention for dorks, nerds, geeks and freaks. People wait all year in breathless anticipation of this show, where like-minded people can come together in a celebration of their social misfit status. The only reason I was there was because my wife scored free tickets.
I dropped my wife, my daughter and her friends off at the entrance, then I parked the car. I had to walk a long distance across a pedestrian footbridge to get to the convention hall, and as I did, I found myself following a young man carrying a sword. A sizeable percentage of the attendees show up in costume, dressed as their favorite character or superhero. This particular guy was wearing woven straw sandals that were tied to his feet with coarse twine. Authentic, yes. Uncomfortable and impractical, definitely.
Swords were everywhere. People carried wooden swords, foam swords, plastic swords. There were several vendors selling real swords if you wanted one. There was even an arena set up where people could fight with foam swords. The guy in the kilt is the referee:
There were all kinds of exhibits: Comic-book dealers, DVD vendors, toy and game dealers, costume shops, even a company selling reproductions of famous film and TV robots.
The place was packed, and as I wheeled my wife around in her wheelchair, I realized that the vendors who had paid hundreds of dollars for exhibit space weren't the show. The crowd was the show.
Lines of tables featured comic book artists who would sign their work or execute commissioned drawings. On the other side of the hall was a "celebrity" area, where Noelle Neill (who played Lois Lane in the Superman TV series) and Margot Kidder (who played Lois Lane in the Christopher Reeve Superman movies) were signing autographs along with lots of other minor celebrities and sub-minor celebrities.
There was a crazy energy pervading the exhibit hall, a palpable sense of belonging, as though I had gained entrance to an exclusive country club that only opens its doors once a year. This is where fantasy becomes reality.