I once told someone I had been a fan my entire life, but that wasn’t quite right.
When I was 5, I watched Star Trek with my father, but I admit my very young mind preferred the slapstick of F Troop, the show that aired after. By the time I was a teen, I had a Princess Leia dress, Spock ears and a healthy fear of certain Twilight Zone episodes. So I sat down to think about it: At what point did I become a fan?
It turns out, I can trace that moment.
I was 7 years old and bored like a 7-year-old used to be, when I turned on the television and found a creature feature marathon. That entire weekend, I mainlined movie after movie. Dracula. Frankenstein. The Invisible Man. But the ones that stuck with me were Bride of Frankenstein and The Mummy.
In Bride of Frankenstein, the ethereal Elsa Lanchester appeared as the Bride for only a few minutes, but her time on screen transfixed me. She terrified me yet made me feel terribly sad for her predicament. But the 1932 movie The Mummy was, and still is, my favorite Universal Horror. It was a story of a timeless, obsessive, and supernatural love, with all the tragedy that implies.
Both movies were scary, yet they drew me in. The scientific Bride and the mythic Mummy stimuated the pleasure centers of my brain. I was delighted by these alternate realities, and my imagination filled in the blanks, then asked more questions. Can we travel to space? Can people return from the dead? Can love transcend time? The more questions I asked, the more I imagined; the more I imagined, the more real these impossible worlds became.
A few months later, Star Wars hit theaters. Any chance I had of living a “normal” life with sports or bars, or whatever the hell it is normal people do, was gone like Alderaan.
Of course, looking back, I realized I really had been geeky my entire life. My first real crush was Errol Flynn as Robin Hood, and my first library book was a science book for kiddies. My family had to encourage me to go out to play, while I preferred to stay in and read like a good little nerdling. I went from taping pictures of Captain Kirk on my wall to writing my own stories. Sometimes they involved me and Captain Kirk. Kissing.
But I was just a proto-nerdling until the monsters flipped a switch, turning me from passive viewer to active obtainer. That’s my definition of a fan, by the way. Someone who does not sit back to watch and read but someone who loves something so much that they act on their passion. For some, it involves painting pictures or building real-world replicas of items that don't exist. As for me, I write and write and write. Because there’s so much to love, there’s so much to do.
“Fan” isn’t a noun but a verb.
What inspired you to became a fan?