November 28, 2009

I Was a Teenage UNIT Irregular

What I am about to tell you may shock some of you, surprise some of you, and for others, just bring about feelings of contempt and impulses towards mockery. Given where I'll be later today, and in an effort to rush towards the NaBloPoMo finale, I thought it best to come clean now.

When I was in high school, I was part of a Doctor Who club. I also did conventions. Regularly. And I'm going to my first Who-specific convention since I was 16 years old.

I'll give you a moment to laugh hysterically and/or make appropriate rude comments.

Ok, ok, compose yourself, now the backstory -

My first exposure to Who was when I was eight years old, catching a glimpse of Day of the Daleks episode three. After that, I didn't catch it until eighth or ninth grade, when after coming home from class, caught The Invasion of Time, episode six. Of course, I kept watching, and by Genesis of the Daleks episode six, I was hooked, even forgoing sleep on Sunday nights to catch it. (Insert joke about "not dating much" here).

But granted, there were only quite a few episodes, so it meant driving down to Worth, IL with a co-worker of my mother's (who was also a big Who fan) and become part of a fan organization known as the "U.N.I.T. Irregulars" who I deemed as cool because....well, they had U.N.I.T. in their name. Mostly, we seemed to watch a lot of vintage Who, available through tape trading (although our fearless leader once got bamboozled by an April Fool's piece in Doctor Who Monthly, and I attempted to buy Terror of the Autons on tape for five dollars. (Our most obnoxious stunt - calling WTTW during pledge week and complaining that they didn't have the Davison episodes yet).

Yes, I was also one of those kind of fans. Being grounded for a week after that helped me see the light.

But it was also my first introduction to conventions - probably one of the few social outings that my parents allowed me to indulge in without being chaperoned. (Oh, if they only knew). Stories too numerous to tell - seeing Earthshock for the first time; seeing the Master wear a Cubs cap (for a cricket fan like Anthony Ainley, it must have seemed sacrilegious) meeting the Doctor - and the Brigadier....even now, my ability to get starstruck is slighly off-kilter. For a guy who once got to witness Robert DeNiro drink a beer on a train at 5 am (I was an extra at the time - please comment, and I'll share the story), that wasn't impressive.

Being thisclose to Sarah Sutton as a teenage boy? Priceless

Much of what I liked about Doctor Who was that, much like another fictional doctor, he was the hero I could aspire to becoming. He could think his way out of a situation. He didn't rely on being able to beat the other guy up, and for a non-athletically included person like me, that was critical. He was booksmart (one new series episode even has the Doctor holding books and declaring "these are weapons"). In short, he was a hero that anyone who felt out of place could be...because he embraced his quirkiness.

So I'm about - for one day, at least - to reenage the world of Who fandom. (Like three podcasts and twitter aren't enough). Things have changed, but hopefully, I might feel slightly young again.

Regenerated, you might say.

No comments: