I arrived in Indianapolis around 5 yesterday afternoon for the National Popular Culture Association Conference after a long, wet drive. After having spent days getting the presentation ready and practicing, now was the time to just get going. I cannot say that I’m feeling exactly 100% about the presentation as I have varied the time it takes to give when practicing between 18-24 minutes but I’m here anyway.
After having checked into the hotel and getting organized, I went down to the 3rd floor where the conference registration was taking place. There I was handed a program and a name tag along with a special ribbon showing my first time status. One guy told me that the ribbon was so they all could laugh at me, which made me laugh. Then I commented that this would feel familiar as my students laugh at me all the time. From there, I waited for the evening entertainment, Paula Poundstone. While I obviously knew of her, I don’t know that I watched a lot of her stuff before. Now, though, I would. She was hilarious and definitely made me feel more comfortable about being here.
She started her routine by asking about this little conference, wondering how people got here, what they talked about, etc. She called on some random guy who claimed he was a “trailing spouse” and that his wife was presenting. What was she presenting about? Buffy the Vampire Slayer, of course! From there, Paula wanted to know how long the husband knew about her “interest” in Buffy. He stated that he found out pretty early in their relationship as her house was covered in Buffy memorabilia. Paula then wondered if this sort of thing was something the “trailing spouse” found attractive. As you can imagine, the rest of the crowd was hysterically laughing.
From there, Paula found out some other topics that people were presenting about. At this point, it became clear to her that people at this conference were kind of obsessed about some tiny aspect of popular culture. As I was laughing, I found myself nodding. This is true. It is one thing to have a little conversation or two about fandom. It is another thing to read countless books about it, write a couple of manuscripts about it, and present about it to a bunch of other geeky academics. In realizing this, I have to recognize that Rhonda and I have been rather obsessive about understanding fandom and our fandom specifically. At that moment, I found myself smiling, knowing that I’m around people who are just like me in that they, too, are obsessed about something. They are so obsessed about whatever that they have studied and are excited to present about their learning. That’s really pretty cool.
I look forward to going to some presentations today. I’m hopeful that they will help me feel more confident about what I’m presenting. On top of that, I hope to learn something from my fellow obsessive academic geeks.