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Well, it’s Comic-Con time. I haven’t gone in two years. I imagine I’ll go back someday, maybe. I love that show and hate it in equal measure, and always have, ever since my first one, more than ten years ago (back when they only filled about half the convention center).

The San Diego Convention Center

So here’s my favorite Comic-Con experience. This happened the year that the Tomb Raider movie came out, whatever year that was. I’m too lazy to Google it.

Along the back of the convention center, there’s a bank of glass doors, the kind with a big aluminum push-handle running horizontally across the middle. I’d been sneaking out those doors to get a smoke every once in a while (I smoked cigarettes back then — I know, weird, right?) At some point, though, all the doors got locked, except for one, which had been propped open with an empty soda can. I stepped outside, lit my cigarette, and noticed that there were velvet ropes and security guards surrounding me. Since the security guards didn’t say anything, I assumed that this was to keep me out of something (a common experience at Comic-Con), so I sat down on the steps and didn’t think anything more about it.

That’s when Angelina Jolie, and a retinue of bodyguards, came running down the steps I had been sitting on. I hopped up out of the way. A crowd of fans appeared along the velvet ropes, screaming at her. One of them, a young woman, was crying, and pointing at a tattoo of Angelina on her arm. “Look at me!” she screamed. “I love you!”

I think I can understand why some celebrities don’t let their employees look them in the eyes. Those fans were intense. The looks coming off their faces were intense. Their eyes were soul-sucking. After a while, you probably get scared of people’s eyes generally.

Jolie kept her head down, ran, along with her bodyguards, down the path that had been laid out for her by the velvet ropes, and disappeared.

“Wow,” I said to one of the security guards. I started to sit on the steps again.

“Why don’t you just stay right there for a minute?” she said to me, gesturing me away from the steps, but not in a mean way.

Just a little bit later, Halle Berry came walking from the direction that Angelina had disappeared into. I didn’t realize who it was at first. No fans followed her (I realized later that Jolie had been coming back from a panel, so people had probably left the panel and guessed where she would be, but Berry was on her way to a panel, and nobody even knew she was here).

She stopped before getting on the steps, smiled at me, and said, “Hello.”

I hadn’t realized yet that it was Halle Berry. I thought to myself: Who is this amazingly pretty, amazingly short woman with the amazingly large head, talking to me?

I said, “Hello.”

Then I realized who it was.

Then she went up the steps.

I left then. I went to the concession area to get some food. I bought a slice of pizza. There was nowhere to sit in the concession area (of course), so I ended up sitting in the outer lobby of the convention center, on the floor, in a corner. Some guy squatted next to me, facing the very corner, talking on his cellphone. I didn’t look at him until a line formed behind his back.

“Mr. Tarantino,” said some kid. “I love your movies! Can I get an autograph?”

All this happened in the span of about fifteen minutes. I never had another celebrity encounter at Comic-Con, for all the years I attended, unless you count the time in the U. S. Grant hotel lobby that Stan Lee asked me where the bathroom was. I don’t count that.

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