“Hello, I’m Henry”

You’d like to think that while you may have infrequent dorkish tendencies, you certainly are not a full-time, card-carrying dork.And then you meet Henry Winkler, and know that deep down, encoded in your very DNA all is lost, because dorky, thy name is little debbie Dorkarella, high priestess and queen of all the dorks you survey.  The dorkish benchmark that to which all other dorks strive.

In 1976, when I was twelve, we moved from Puerto Rico to San Diego. I quickly became obsessed with stateside television.  Every Tuesday night ABC aired a sitcom that quickly became more than a favorite, it became a passion and preoccupation.  The show was a fifties-themed sitcom called Happy Days.

My mom adores the early days of rock & roll and performers like Chubby Checker, Elvis, and the Platters.  The consequence of being raised in this atmosphere was nostalgia for a decade that I’d never actually experienced.And Happy Days was a sentimental, untroubled depiction of the 1950s.  My favorite moments in the show were when Arthur Fonzarelli, or Fonzie, was onscreen.  I was in love.

But not with The Fonz.

See?  Adorable.

I was beguiled by the actor who portrayed him, Henry Winkler.  He was a cute, classically trained actor.  His New York accent and cadence were very similar to my New Jersey relatives.  This conveyed a familiarity that made me feel that I already knew him.

For the second year in a row, The Kid and I went to Supercon, a gathering in Raleigh of fans of many genres.  There are appearances by artists, authors, wrestling stars, and many actors.And this year there was a very special guest.

It was my seventh-grade object of desire, Henry Winkler.  When The Kid told me the news, I could say nothing but “Oh my gosh” for probably ten minutes.  I was thrilled, but a tiny part of me was scared.Last year I’d met a history/travel author at an event.  It was someone who I’ve always enjoyed, was really smart, and whom I felt had a similar worldview to mine.  There was a meet and greet after the program, and I was sure we’d hit it off right away, and bond over our amusement of the absurdity of life.

She turned out to be judgmental and irritable.  She didn’t like me at all, and her tone and attitude made that quite clear.  I was completely crestfallen and haven’t been able to open one of her books since that depressing evening.Henry Winkler had always seemed like a really nice guy, but so had the writer.  If he turned out to be a cold, dismissive jerk, my heart would just snap in two.  But I’ve adored this man for forty years and couldn’t let this opportunity pass me by.

Our meeting was more than I could have ever imagined.  He was sweet, funny, and kind.   We spoke for a few minutes, we hugged a couple of times, and just before I walked away he leaned in and kissed me.Allow me to say that one more time, HENRY.WINKLER.KISSED.ME!!!!

The Kid took my arm and walked me over to a quiet corner where I could catch my breath and contemplate what had occurred.I know that he’s had millions of fan encounters, but he was very cognizant of the fact that this was my one and only and would become a lifelong memory.  He knew our moment was very special to me and treated it with tenderness.  When I first walked up, he saw it was affecting me enough to render me mute.  He smiled, looked me in the eye, held out his hand, and said,

“Hi, I’m Henry.”Thanks for your time.

Packing It In

So, for the second year The Kid and I spent the weekend in Raleigh, at the Super Con.  As the word “Con” might suggest, it’s a convention that celebrates, well…it celebrates all kinds of stuff.  Sci Fi, comic books, Steampunk, wrestling, anime, mythology, cult movies, and there’s probably a few biggies I’ve forgotten.

There are actors from TV and movies, writers and artists, and lots of vendors selling all kinds of tie-in merchandise.  Last year we met Brent Spiner, Levar Burton, and Alex Kingston.

Alex Kingston as the consummate badass woman, River Song.

The Kid gave me tickets for the whole weekend as a birthday/Mother’s Day gift.

We had a blast.  Before the end of the first day we had already decided to make it a yearly tradition.  We met all manner of awesome people, and made new friends, including Tony Todd, who had a memorable role as Kurn, Worf’s Klingon brother on Star Trek The Next Generation, and Anya, a rabbit-phobic former demon on Buffy The Vampire Slayer played by Emma Caulfield.

Michael Rooker-Dangerous, but oh so fun.

The Kid’s favorite encounter of the weekend was with Michael Rooker, the blue guy from Guardians of the Galaxy and Grant Grant (not a typo), in the genre-busting, hilarious yet terrifying Slither.  He’s the nutty uncle that takes you on epic adventures and is responsible for your first hangover, tattoo, and maybe even a night in jail.

Tony Todd as Kurn.

Amongst all this fun, there was only one fly in the Supercon ointment—the food.

With absolutely no plan, we ended up eating the closest available grub.  It was a half-hearted rendition of Japanese noodles and veg.  It was neither tasty nor satisfying.  Plus, it was expensive.

On Sunday, the final day of the “con”, we’d lucked out and had brunch at a place called Capital Club 16, on the corner of Martin and Salisbury, about three blocks from the convention center.The food was imaginative and well-prepared.  The atmosphere and service were warm, friendly, and calm; a welcome contrast to the frenetic vibe at the Supercon.  It was decided then and there to make this a part of each Supercon Sunday each year.

For the other meals, we had multiple “planning conferences” (actually casual conversations) to plan our eats.  Each day on our way to the festivities we’d make the necessary Starbucks stop for vast quantities of caffeinated beverages.  And except for Sunday brunch, we’d bring in our own food; for lunches, snacks, desserts, and drinks.We did sandwiches and bought good bread, deli meats and cheeses for the first day.  The second day we did sandwiches, but bought them because I had a really good coupon.  I made a batch of brownies and some lemon white chocolate gooey bars from a new recipe I found (they were ambrosial, and I’ll share the recipe soon, I promise).

We took a couple bags of pretzels and some nabs, and an eight-pack of water. For sides we had broccoli salad, and coleslaw.  Both were homemade.  I’ve shared the broccoli salad recipe already, but the coleslaw was something new that I’ve been tinkering with lately.

Cole Slaw Dressingslaw dressing¾ cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon horseradish

3 tablespoons wildflower honey

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Juice of half a lemon

2 teaspoons caper or dill pickle brine (from the jar the pickles or capers are in)

1 teaspoon celery salt, optional

Salt and pepper to tasteWhisk together all ingredients, taste for seasoning and sweet/sour level.  Adjust according to taste. Refrigerate for at least three hours.  The day before serving toss one pound of finely shredded cabbage and three or four grated carrots with enough dressing to thoroughly coat the veg.  Refrigerate overnight.  Before serving toss and then check for seasoning.  Keep in fridge for up to a week.

20180729_152957

That’s me, in the orange, hanging out with a squad of DC Pinups.  The young woman on the far right made every single costume except for the green dress and horns (Loki).  I didn’t go in costume, but at various times during the weekend, I was accused of being Edna Mode from The Incredibles, and Velma from Scooby Doo.  Jinkies!  Do I look like a cartoon character?

So, don’t settle.  If you don’t want to shell out for indifferent food, plan ahead.  Just remember to pack smart, and keep the food cold and thus, safe.  Nothing can ruin a day like good food gone bad.Thanks for your time.