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How I (Finally) Met Joss Whedon

October 18, 2009

Growing up in Hollywood has given me a certain talent – a special skill, you might say. Celebrities do not sway me. While I enjoy identifying actors like they’re rare tropical birds, they’re in fact too common place for me to get riled up every time I spot one. Kirsten Dunst and Jake Gyllenhaal once ate brunch across the room from me, Marc Feurstein is a regular at my Coffee Bean, and I live across the street from Gwen Stefani’s brother.

I’ve become immune to famous people, which has gifted me with the ability to shove my friends in their path without hesitation. When pals R. and Z. texted me one night after our day at Comic-Con and bemoaned the fact that they were just feet away from Dollhouse actors Dichen Lachman and Enver Gjokaj, but had failed to speak, they came to the conclusion that if I had been around, they wouldn’t have frozen. I would have been the ice breaker.

So when we spotted the two actors at the double feature of The Guild and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood Friday night, I knew it was fate.  I got the guys to their feet, and with my friend Roz from NiceGirlsTV.com as an extra buffer, we went over to speak to them. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dollhouse and think both Dichen and Enver are wonderful on it, but they’re not exactly Brangelina, so I was the first to open my mouth.

“Sorry to interrupt your conversation,” I said, getting them both to turn their heads. “But my friends here missed an opportunity to meet you at Comic-Con, and I couldn’t let that happen again. We’re all big fans of the show.”

Of course, both actors were exceedingly sweet and friendly, shook everyone’s hands and even stood in for a picture, though sadly the usher manning the camera managed to turn Dichen into a disembodied floating head. The boys and Roz commended Enver on his turn as Kiki on last week’s episode, and I took it all in, enjoying the fruits of my labor. Just as we were preparing to go back to our seats, it happened. I turned, and came face to face with Joss Whedon.

I squeaked.

See, as I explained to my friends, my powers don’t work on me. Actors I can handle – I tend not to approach simply because I don’t have anything new to say rather than because of fear – but when I come face to face with a writer whose work has inspired me, it’s full-on deer-in-the-headlights time. I love television, and admire actors, but where writers are concerned, I actually want to count myself among them. This results in the awkward limbo state in which I dwell for all aspects of my life. Not just a fan, not quite a peer.

I was inches away from Joss, and despite the voice in my head screaming, “Say something, do something, anything, stick out your hand, just do something!” I couldn’t move. My knees actually went weak.

Even a day later, I’m struggling to think of the words to explain just why this was such a momentous moment for me. His shows have inspired me to write for television. No one can make me laugh one moment, then rip my heart out and stomp on it the next like Joss. And to have come so close so many times, it was starting to become the stuff of legend. Surreal.

He slid down the aisle to his seat, followed shortly by sister-in-law Maurissa Tanacharoen, whom I also desperately wanted to talk to when I found myself with lock-jaw. It quickly became a parade o’ Geek Dreams, as the Guild cast followed with Sandeep Parikh and Felicia Day waiting for the chance to sit down. If it hadn’t happened right before my unblinking eyes, I would have called it a farce. Welcome to Hollywood. This is my life.

I trailed my friends (still on their actor-highs) back to our seats, and proceeded to kick myself for the next hour and a half. I couldn’t believe I’d let the moment pass me by, that while I could throw my friends at celebrities, I couldn’t manage to form a sentence in front of someone with a reputation for being generous with his fans.

I tried to put it behind me, chalk it up to yet another one of those moments, more fodder for the webseries, whatever, and threw myself into singing along.

After the Q&A, which, for someone who has been to many of these screenings and follows half the panelists on Twitter, was a bit redundant, I considered hanging around for one more shot at an actual, audible connection, but the mob that had surrounded the Whedons was too much for me. Roz swore she’d fix this situation in two weeks when we did this again at the Fairfax Regency Whedonopolis event.

So we stepped outside, chatted a bit, made plans for In & Out, and I was set to leave, ready to chalk it up to another missed connection. I thought about posting it on Craigslist.

Suddenly, Roz grabbed my arm.

“We’re doing this,” she said.

Doing what? I wondered, until I saw Joss Whedon exiting the Egyptian Theater from a side door.

“Oh shit,” I said, eyes wide, “oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.”

It was almost an out of body experience. For several seconds, I could not believe I was being towed toward the man behind Firefly. A low, chemical burn started in my gut, and my knees wobbled.

A part of me didn’t want to actually go through with it. I didn’t want to ruin the illusion, to end the story, to complete my quest. What would I strive for then? After so much hype, it couldn’t live up to the dream. I’d put too much emphasis on this meeting, when it was over – and it would be, all too soon – I’d have to live with it. I only got one shot at the first impression.

Of course, then it got even more ludicrous. Roz made at least four separate attempts to get his attention, each time losing him to another fan with a pen or a camera.

“This is insane!” I said, giggling like a twelve-year-old in a tickle fight. “I can’t believe this.”

Finally, as he was walking and we were trailing, she succeeded in piercing the veil.

“I met you at Comic-Con,” Roz prompted, when Joss gave a blank look after she introduced herself. “I called you a Corey because you were wearing sunglasses indoors.”

“Ah, yes,” spoke the Master, and then turned his gaze upon me. I was gawking.

“This is my friend Megan,” said Roz. “She’s a big fan, and she really wanted to meet you.”

You know how they say never meet your idols? Well, fortunately for me, unlike that time with David Sedaris, or the time I went to a Terry Pratchett signing, the reality lived up to the expectation. While I’m sure I was not as smooth as I could have been and he didn’t offer me a job on the spot, there was no awkward conversation about crop-dusting, or long wait as a bookstore employee went to find a sharpie. (A story, perhaps, for another time.)

I shook his hand.

“It’s so great to meet you,” I think I said. Everything at this point was a bit of a blur, but I was actually making eye contact. “This was one of those situations where I came close a bunch of times to actually meeting you and introducing myself, but never actually got there.”

“Well,” he said, in his low voice, “now we’re really close.”

He stepped right to my side, leering at me. (Yes, Joss Whedon leered at me.) Then he took a giant step away, like he was doing the Time Warp.

“And now we’re not,” he said. We all laughed. I squeaked.

“I actually wrote a webseries pretty much based on this,” I told him. The words just dropped off my lips. I was amazed that I had managed it.

His brow furrowed slightly. “Really?”

What was running through his head at that moment? Who knows. In the space of ten seconds I came up with more than a dozen possibilities. Fuck it, I thought, and opened my purse.

“I’m going to give you a card,” I told him, heart racing, “because I know a lot of people who will never let me forget it if I don’t.”

I handed him one of the postcards I’d designed for Quest for Comic-Con, and told him it was so nice to meet him.  And that was it, my quest was finished, the challenge had been met. I went off, still in shock, and started composing this very blog in my head.

Will he watch the Quest? Probably not. But the fact is, I can tell my friends, relatives, and parents – not to mention the world wide web and my few loyal readers – that I met Joss Whedon, and I gave him my card. Cross that off the bucket list.

Next, get invited on The Daily Show.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kimberly permalink
    October 29, 2009 11:43 am

    Ten to one says he did look at “Quest…” I would.

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