My 15 Seconds with Bill…
I had never been to a Star Trek convention before. Never gotten my photo taken with a celebrity. Certainly never paid $60 to have my photo taken with a celebrity. But this was BILL. Even though I live in Vermont I remember thinking, “It’s only Pennsylvania, how far could it be?” 10 Hours. It was 10… hours… each way.
Since this was going to be my first Star Trek convention, I had splurged for the “gold ticket”: autographs, preferred seating, VIP admission, nice. Wait, what? Photos are extra? Son of a…
We (my friend Sam was there as well) headed upstairs to the photo room. The hallway was packed, the stairs leading up to the hallway was packed, hundreds of people waiting in line. Staying optimistic, we waited… and shuffled as the line inched forward… annnnd waited again, and shuffled etc. This was going be a full day commitment. Finally we entered the room itself and the first thing I noticed was the camera they were taking photos with. A teeny, tiny point-and-click thing on a comically large tripod. Still optimistic though.
Then I saw William Shatner in a chair at the head of the room and my first thought was, “ Wow, does he look a bit… medicated?” It didn’t seem like the buzzing activity around him was really registering. My guess was he had gotten off a red-eye flight from California moments before and understandably looked exhausted. Behind him was a banner of the original cast as people were ushered up to, into and promptly out of the chair next to him. The pace of these actions was, to be blunt, ridiculously funny. I totally understand when you have hundreds of people in line, things have to move briskly. I’m going to say it was 15 seconds per person at most and a majority seemed far less than that. Slightly less optimistic at this point.
Most people simply sat in the chair and then moved on. Not me, I was young and full of, oh, let’s call it enthusiasm. I drove 10 hours dammit! I stepped up and threw my hand out as I sat down. His handshake was… how do I put this?… non-committal. A fingertip grasp as he leaned about as far away from me as the chair allows. One click. Next!
Did I mention you don’t get the photos right away. You go home and the photos come weeks later, which they did. I gingerly opened the envelope and my photo with William Shatner that I waited in line for hours for was crumpled, off-color, off-center and kind of blurry.
Truth be told, I don’t begrudge Shatner or any celebrity. It’s got to be weird seeing that look of recognition on everyone’s face everywhere you go even though you have no idea who they are. I’m still glad I got the photo and can say I’ve met the man who’s given me so much entertainment over the years.
P.S. Nimoy was awesome! Eye contact, good handshake. He even smiled.