As I was walking on the expo floor, I noticed that the Quantum Mechanix booth was having signings. Manu Bennett was going to be there at various times through the show. My pessimism was turning optimistic.
When I left Claudia Black I noticed no line for Manu. In fact, I notice no Manu. I walked over to confirm how much he was charging and when he would be back. The cute handler mentioned the price and that he was there. He had stepped away to take a call. She told me to wait a moment.
I waited. Manu walked back and sat down and immediately stated chatting with the young handler. I was ignored. Okay. Been there and done that. I figure it was going to be one of THOSE types of encounters. No worries. It wasn’t going to ruin my day or my ComicCon.
I was ignored for a minute more. He took another call. He excused himself to the blonde handler but not me. She said he was trying to arrange a something for tonight. She said he was working on it all weekend. Not really interested to be truthful.
Then she bumped him and said someone was here for him. He looked up and saw me. He apologized. He stood. We shook hands. We looked each other in the eyes. The heavy ascent surprised me. I liked it. He seemed excited talk about the show. I explained how cool it was that ever character got their screen time before they died heroically.
I picked out a photo and he signed. When he leaned over I noticed the scars around his right eye. I said, ’Not all of your scars were makeup’.
He looked at me nonplussed.
I said, ‘The scars around your eye. That's not makeup.’
He paused for a moment, internally debating to tell the tale or not. Then he told about a car accident. How young he was. What caused each scar. How it was a ‘give up’ or ‘straighten up’ time in his life. He found the strength to straighten up. He remarked he could have easily given up. We talked for 5 minutes about turning points and how some people turn one way or the other and how powerful that decision can be without knowing it. He now works with disadvantage kids hoping that some can be inspired to straighten up.
Whatever thoughts I had about this being one of THOSE encounters was out the door. I liked him. I knew he didn’t ignore me, he didn’t see me. As I turned to leave he put his hand out again. I reached to shake but he thrust his arm forward and we shook like they did in Spartacus, hands on each other’s forearms. I smiled. I paused. My mind raced for the proper thing to say. It came to me as our grip broke, I said 'Gratitude'.
Just like they did in Spartacus. He smiled and repeated Gratitude back to me.
PS – As I walked away, I heard him say to the cute young blonde that was clever of me. Wow, what an ego boost there.
PPS – When he was on the autograph floor he had a constant line. I’m so glad I found him at the booth. A great unrushed experience.