So roughly two dozen amazing things happened at PAX…I fondled a Mars Rover wheel with Wil Wheaton, I talked about lobsters with Notch, ate curry with Dodger, and teased MC Frontalot for his excessively high-brow taste in literature.
But, of course, there’s always going to be something crappy that happens. At a place like PAX, or VidCon for that matter, it feels so good because you’ve opened yourself so completely to it all. Your soul is laid bare and that allows all the good stuff to come flowing in so very easily. But it also means you’re super vulnerable.
Now, I am less vulnerable than most, since I’m at PAX not just as an attendee, but as a guest, and it’s hard not to have a healthy ego when you’re a professional YouTuber. But still, when I was walking down the street and heard two perfect strangers quietly mocked me, their barbs slid in faster than they would have otherwise.
They were impersonating their stereotype gamer geek, unmodified since the 80’s with a high-pitched nasal monotone proclaiming pride in uncovering magical mushrooms or something. I kept walking because I wasn’t, at first, really sure of what was going on. After about six steps I stopped and looked back at them.
They had quieted down and were looking out across the street. Because I’m an idiot, and also probably also because I own a conference and I know how much trouble people go through to get to this place of pleasurable vulnerability, and how easy it is to shatter, and how that can ruin someone’s whole experience…I turned around and walked back.
“Are you here attending the conference?” I said, partially because I still couldn’t believe that they were just sitting there being trolls IRL.
“Oh yeah, yep, yep we are.”
“So you weren’t just sitting there mocking people as they walk by you.”
“No, no…we’re fishermen from Alaska.” he replied. His friend followed up with “You got a joint?”
Familiar with the “change the subject strategy” I kept on going, maybe a bit too far, and with plenty of awkward, adrenaline induced pauses…
“Oh good, because, like, that would be a terrible thing to do…to, like, cut down a perfect stranger because they’re actually enthusiastic about something. That would, like, be, like the kind of thing that only someone who really disliked themselves would do.”
And I walked away. Terrified, of course, that they would follow me and hit me in the head. It wasn’t so much that they were bigger than me that worried me. I just have absolutely no idea what to do in a fight except yell “I DON’T WANT TO FIGHT!!!” Actually, that strategy has served me pretty well. People don’t generally punch guys who are cowering sissies because it makes them look pretty pathetic.
As I’m walking away, the dude called me back. Of course, I was like “No, that’s OK!” because, like, there is no way I’m going back there. Just as I’m about to turn the corner, a guy headed in the other direction sees me and face lights up and he’s all “HANK GREEN!” and I’m thinking “OH GOD NO PLEASE DON’T INTERRUPT MY EXAGGERATEDLY CALM EXIT FROM THIS SITUATION!” But he asks for my autograph, and, in full view of the trolls, I sign his badge and have a brief conversation. As we talk the guys hop off the wall and head over toward us. Every inch of my body is screaming “FLY YOU FOOL!” But I don’t fly, I just keep talking to this guy who has absolutely no idea any of what just happened, and I can’t very well explain it to him.
They get to us and the dude who I’d talked to says some words that I was not able to actually record with my brain but which amounted, roughly, to “Sorry.” And then they walked away.
I was like 0____o.
Then my body was like “GO EAT SOME FOOD NOW BECAUSE I JUST USED UP EVERY AVAILABLE CALORIE MAKING YOU FEEL TERRIBLE BECAUSE I THOUGHT THAT WOULD HELP!” and I’m like “God you suck at your job.” But I went and got some food anyway because the meat, in the end, is in charge.
Hank, I love you <3 =P