Starting Friday, the Con Nooga multifandom convention will celebrate its eighth year as a gathering point for Wookie lovers and would-be wizards throughout the region.
But for the first time in three years, my "Doctor Who" costume will be hanging in my closet.
Instead of my usual hobnobbing with hobgoblins and fist-bumping warriors from the post-apocalyptic wasteland at the Chattanooga Choo Choo, I'll be with my girlfriend and dressed in an outfit of a different sort -- a tailcoat -- at a charity ball in Mobile, Ala.
I've been advised by numerous experts that my attempts to dance are potentially life-threatening, and my idea of fancy attire is wearing a secondhand blazer over my Iron Man shirt. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to the trip with my girlfriend, whom I love dearly, especially since I'll see where she grew up and meet her family for the first time. (In person, that is; I've already written about "meeting" one of her sisters via a Facetime video chat.)
Even as I'm excited at that prospect, however, I'm a creature of habit, and when the end of February rolls around, I'm accustomed to certain activities in preparation for the pending weekend of geeky debauchery.
By this point, I'm usually framing arguments for why "The Empire Strikes Back" is better than "Wrath of Khan" (and vice versa), honing my "Street Fighter" skills and making mental notes of "Futurama" lines I can drop in conversations.
For years, I used to keep these kinds of thoughts bottled up because I lacked an outlet to express them. Since my first convention in 2010, however, I've come to rely on them to get it out of my system.
Really, these events should be called "un-conventions" because generally speaking, it's not considered socially appropriate to spout off "Firefly" one-liners and drool over paintings of dragons or rare action figures. At conventions, however, it's no-holds-barred, and for many people, they help relieve the frustration of having to behave like relatively "normal" people most of the time.
In a sense, the real costumes aren't the ones in our closets but the ones we put on the other 360-odd days of the year. For us, conventions are like a 72-hour fix, and even though I've known for months that I wouldn't be attending Con Nooga this year, the need to geek out is still there, like a sneeze that's destined to remain frustratingly unexpelled.
Then again, who knows? Maybe I can sneak my sonic screwdriver into the ball ...
Contact Casey Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...