Obviously, I didn’t plan it this way. The Nordic Warrior Queen and I were visiting my daughter in San Diego when I saw the TV commercial: Comic Con, at the San Diego Convention Center, starting Wednesday.
I’ve wanted to go since I was a little kid, when Comic Con was still the Golden State Comic Book Convention. I would dress up as Captain America and pose before the bathroom mirror, wishing I could be a superhero.
Woohoo! It was the chance of a lifetime. I was going to Comic Con!
But what to wear? There would be legions of Storm Troopers, hordes of drooling zombies. Enough Yodas to fill a space cruiser. I didn’t want to be just another Superman, Batman, or Ironman, and Captain America was a fading memory.
Of course! I would be the Nordic Warrior King. Beware Chris Hemsworth. Beware you Thor imposters. I will teach you the real meaning of Norse power.
But first, I needed a cape.
I called Buffalo Breath Costumes Co. at 2050 Hancock St, San Diego, CA. ”You guys have any Viking Godwear?” I wasn’t sure she’d know what I meant.
“Hold on,” said the girl who answered the phone. “Hey Ronnie,” she yelled. “I got another Norwegian on the line.”
Ron picked up. “Al I have left is an extra-small cape and a pair of size 12 boots. The heels are sprung.”
“What about a sword?”
“$500 deposit. It’s dull.”
“I’ll be there at three,” I said, and hung up the phone.
I tried to get the Nordic Warrior Queen to come. She would be the perfect complement to my Norse attire. “You can wear the helmet again, like you did last weekend.”
“I was drunk.”
“We might see Harrison Ford…Heath Ledger…Robert Downey Jr.”
“Heath Ledger is dead.”
I didn’t want to miss a single thing though, so I decided to camp on the sidewalk Tuesday night. And since I knew there wouldn’t be a chance to dress before the gates opened the next morning, I wore my costume.
The shoes were a bit big, and the cape barely covered my Levis tag, but I looked awesome. Who would mess with a Viking, especially one with a death-dealing broadsword?
I drove downtown, parked in the long-term ramp, and made my way to the convention center. Traffic slowed as I walked down the sidewalk, the gawkers surely jealous of my excellent costume.
Boy, I had a great spot, first in line, but I wasn’t there twenty minutes before some homeless guy approached me. “What are you supposed to be? Some sort of Odin?”
Ah, a student of Norse mythology. “I am an exiled Nordic Warrior King,” I proclaimed, fully into my role by that point.
“You got any spare change?”
I dismissed the vagabond and set down to prepare for the morrow. Just think about all the people I would meet. Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker. Godzilla and Mothra.
I was rehearsing my conversation with Hugh Jackson as Wolverine when I heard a voice. “Who the fuck are you supposed to be?” A group of four young men stood around me in a tight circle.
“I’m here for Comic Con.” Duh.
The biggest of them laughed. “A little early, don’cha think?”
I loosened my sword. “I didn’t want to miss anything.”
“No worries there, fool.” The gang was getting ready to attack.
Nordic Warrior King or no, it was time for some Viking battle tactics. I pointed my sword at the closest of them. “Look, a squirrel!” I yelled, and ran like hell.
Up Harbor Drive and past Market Street, I sprinted toward the beach. Still, they were gaining on me. I took a shortcut through the Manchester Grand Hyatt, where the hotel guests stood in awe at my Nordic speed, my too-small cape flapping behind me.
I was nearly to the Embarcadero when I heard the siren. A police car swerved to the curb in front of me, cutting off my escape. It didn’t matter. For the first time in my life, I saw those flashing lights as a promise of safety.
But who stepped out of the car but my arch-legal-enemy, Officer Anderson.
“You again,” said the semi-retired traffic cop.
“What the hell? I thought you moved to Arizona?”
“Nope. Couldn’t stay away from the beach scene.”
I tried to picture the flabby flatfoot riding a surfboard and laughed.
“What’s so funny?” he said.
“Nothing. You going to arrest those guys?”
I spun around. The gang of would-be asskickers were gone.
“But…there was a whole bunch of them. They were trying to beat me up.”
Officer Anderson was unconvinced. “Let’s see some identification.”
Uh oh. I’d left it in the car. All I had in my pocket was a Comic Con pass and my three-day itinerary. I tried my best Jedi mind trick. “You don’t need to see my identification.”
“Don’t pull that Obi-Wan Kenobi bullshit on me. You’re going to find yourself in the hoosegow.”
“You’re going to arrest me?” I was outraged. “For what?”
“How about disturbing the peace? How about running through a hotel lobby dressed like…some sort of fairy.” He looked at my sword. “With a concealed weapon.”
“I’m a Nordic Warrior King,” I said. “Here for Comic Con.”
“Comic Con’s not ‘til next week. Get in the back of the car.”
Officer Anderson was nice enough to drive me to the parking garage to get my car. While I sat in the back seat, I looked again at my Comic Con registration. Damnit. In my excitement, I’d misread the date. I wouldn’t even be in San Diego on those dates!
As he pulled away, the policeman rolled down his window. “Take this, Mr. Hanson,” he said, handing me a piece of paper.
It was a photo of Officer Anderson, resplendent in Viking garb, a smiling Chris Hemsworth next to him. Behind him was a sign that read “Comic Con, 2012.”
“Have a nice day, Mr. Hanson. We’ll miss you next week.”