I was about 40 yards from the tables when the workers looked up and started to cheer. All of the attendees, even those in the barns, began whooping and holllering; thunderous applause echoed off the aluminum walls, and wolf whistles pierced the din. I froze, not sure whether to take a bow or run away. Then I noticed the caravan of firetruck-red limos and stretch Hummers entering the compound. Six of each filed in, circled the barn and lined up. The drivers climbed out, wearing red shirts and black slacks. Some of them were less than amused, while others awkwardly shuffled their weight from foot to foot. One, who had a V-shaped insignia he must have brought from his own collection, beamed with pride.
The commotion ended, and I finally made it to a knot of authoritative Spock look-a-likes who seemed to be in charge. I ran up with a big smile on my face, eager to find out what was going on. But before I could even say "hello," I was greeted with a bevy of questions and offers.
"It's not too late to register. Would you like to sign up?"
"I have an extra set of clothes and ears - are you an XL?"
"We have more parking in the back if you want to leave your car with the rest of the groups."
Slowly, conversation after conversation, the passion in each conventioneer's voice brought the event into focus. There I stood, an outsider who clearly had no idea what he had stumbled into, and their reaction wasn't one of suspicion or resentment, but rather an eagerness to share their joy. I quickly explained that we had just been in Riverside and decided to follow the Enterprise out here, only to find the event we had stumbled upon was a Trekkie meet-up before a special pre-screening of the new movie. They offered us seats in the caravan to a nearby theater and some tickets, but we had to pass - we were meeting Katie Mac's parents for dinner
It was that evening that the mysterious appeal of Star Trek was revealed to me. The devoted fans in attendance had no desire to prove that Star Trek was the best franchise; they were simply excited to share with others the hobby that brought them so much happiness. I knew then that I hadn't just been missing out on the source material; I had been missing out on the community.
That was four months ago, and to this day, based on the unwarranted kindness with which they treated me, I still consider watching one of the movies ... someday.
Brendan Sears would like to let all the observant readers out there know that yes, the Catie in this article is the same Catie who contributed another piece to this issue. Check out www.thesquonk.com, where Brendan writes under his gamertag, WoundedRiot.