From Vicki Shaver
Recently, my mother passed away after a long illness. This was two weeks prior to a vacation my husband and I had been planning for months. In light of Mom’s passing, we debated about going. Was it too soon? Would there be business to take care of? Would it look inappropriate? We decided to proceed as Mom would have wanted us to. Not only did Mom approve of any kind of travel, she would be especially proud to see her daughter carrying on her “fan girl” legacy at the Walker Stalker Convention in Atlanta.
Let me explain. My mom was the OG fan girl. An original teenybopper. Some of my earliest memories involve sifting through stacks of movie magazines while Mom and her sister had their bouffant hairstyles refreshed at Duane’s Salon. Big name movie stars, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, adorned the covers of Modern Screen and Photoplay, the precursors to People magazine and TV shows like Entertainment Tonight!
Mom didn’t stop at reading about her faves in magazines, though. She was a diehard fan who wrote fan letters, joined fan clubs (was the president of at least one!) and drove miles to get just a glimpse of someone she adored. The stories of these celebrity encounters are legendary. There was the time she and her BFF met some boys who claimed to be actors at a diner in Chicago. One of them, Mark Leonard, ended up playing Spock’s father in the Star Trek franchise. Mom followed his career throughout their lives.
One of her all-time favorites was Burt Reynolds. She “discovered” him when he had a small role on Gunsmoke. Mom felt he was far too talented to be stuck in this bit role, so we added him to our nightly prayers. “God bless Grandma, Grandpa and please let Burt Reynolds become famous.” Obviously, it worked!
When I was about 10, I wrote my first fan letter to Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched fame. I loved her and wanted to be her! But, my fandom really kicked in during adolescence when I fell head over heels for teen idol David Cassidy. Mom happily encouraged this behavior by driving me and my girlfriends to concerts and buying me endless teen magazines with his picture on the cover. You’d think that with age this silliness would fade, but even when Mom’s memory was failing, she could still manage to raise a flirty eyebrow at a picture of Richard Gere.
It was about to debut its 4th season when my husband decided that we should binge AMC’s The Walking Dead. The logic was if AMC could produce a show as excellent as Breaking Bad, this one is worth a shot. Sure that I wouldn’t like it, I made him agree to an equal number of hours watching something girly like Food Network, but after about three episodes, I was hooked. By the way, this show is really not about zombies at all. It’s about survival and relationships under life and death circumstances. It debates important issues and has you questioning which guy is really the bad guy.
Being a fan girl in the 21st Century comes with more options than Mom had. I can follow the stars on Twitter and subscribe to YouTube channels that react to and analyze each episode. There are even special edition magazines for us Boomers who prefer hard copy. However, I’m quite sure that my mother would be impressed with the access to my favorites I have at a Walker Stalker Convention. For a price, I can meet and greet, get an autograph and/or take a selfie with as many of the stars as I can afford or care to wait in line for. It’s also an opportunity to meet other fans – some crazier than me.
You see, in my day-to-day world, people think I’m a little crazy when I go on and on about characters in the zombie apocalypse. That is except for my mom, who would be excited for me and happy to see me carrying on this family tradition.
Editor’s note: The first time I met Vicki was in junior high when she was fighting with somebody just outside the girls restroom over a tear sheet from Teen Beat that featured David Cassidy. I’m pretty sure she won, because she really loved that guy. Probably still does.
#TWD #TheWalkingDead #TWDFamily #WSCAtlanta