The annual Comic Con blew into Tyler this late October with a fury seldom seen in pop culture events. Of course it brought the usual assortment of celebrities, cosplayers, dealers and entertainers, but this year it also brought something less expected: torrential rain and winds that turned a simple nerd-fest into an adventure. It tested the mettle of many a comic fan, but in the end, all was righted, because out of this maelstrom was born: the Legend of the Soggy Sandal!
It was a dark and stormy Friday as we watched the clouds and plotted our way to the con. There were five of us, each with a cell phone, each checking weather reports on the quarter hour, hoping to find that brief pause where the rain might lessen its brutality. Finally a tiny window opened and the rain was reduced to a mere steady downpour. Ryan, Carl, Derek, Michael and I hurried to the Fairgrounds, hoping to unload our wares before the downpour resumed its former intensity.
There was no time for chatter as we arrived and rushed inside with boxes of comics, action figures, games and the like. Alas we were but halfway done when the sky looked down upon us and said “Insignificant whelps! Think you can go about your business without the consent of Mother Nature? I shall smite thee with gallon upon gallon of fury and you will know wet like you have never known wet before!”
(And before you ask, yes, Mother Nature DOES speak this way. It was heard by everyone there.)
These were not idle threats, as the sky quickly open up and dropped wave upon wave on us, reducing us to the wettest comic shop workers in the history of comic shop working. Truly we DID know wet as we had never known wet before.
It was a battle we were going to lose. Perhaps an extra person might make the difference, but would there be anyone who could assist us in our time of need? It was then that a crack of thunder sounded and suddenly our party of five had become a party of six. As if in answer to the storms challenge, L.J. had appeared and immediately joined our charge. Soon we found ourselves carrying the last boxes into the building, anxious to seek the refuge of relative dryness from the onslaught! But the storm made one last effort to best us. As L.J. headed to the door, his arms full of boxes he felt a tug at his feet. Mud! Water! Wind! All had wrapped themselves around his feet in their best attempt to pull him down. As L.J. turned into the wind and pushed his mighty frame toward the door, the very sandal was sucked from his foot. His arms were full of boxes! What would he do? Immediately one of our number relieved him of the burden he carried so he could pursue the sandal. Sadly, it was too late! The sandal rushed quickly downstream, occasionally bobbing up from the muck, only to sink from sight again. The wind hammered and howled, forcing us indoors. The sandal was lost!
As L.J. made his way to our booth to help with the final unboxing, a soon to be familiar sound was heard: Splish clop! Splish clop! Splish clop! People gathered around out of curiosity and wonder. How would L.J. react to this? Was the victory L.J.s for completing his task? Or was it Mother Natures for taking the sandal? L.J.s shoulders slumped a bit. He loved his sandals, and while he still had the one, it just didn’t seem the same now that it was without its brother sandal.
Throughout the remaining days of the Convention, talk grew of this fabled sandal that so clearly represented the struggle of man against nature. Now, everyone distinctly understood that for every triumph of will, a cost must surely be paid. There were random Sandal Sightings during the remainder of the show. Someone would enter the building with curly fries or nachos and mention seeing a lone sandal float by. Always they were met with the hushed tones of respect. “THE Sandal?” “What else could it be?”
Still, L.J. carried on, for he is not only the freest of any spirit you might meet, but he is also possessing of great fortitude and perseverance. Splish clop. Splish clop! The show would, and DID go on!
Perhaps the story should have ended there, with only the legend of the sandal to haunt the fairgrounds, reminding everyone of the need to press forward no matter how many sandals we might have. But there story doesn’t end there.
On the final day we packed up, everyone weary and spent. We had just loaded our last box, but L.J. was with us only in spirit, for he had other commitments. As we locked our truck, preparing to leave we were approached by a worker who had been overseeing the cleanup. He held out a sandal, battered and dirty. There was no question it was THE sandal.
“Some show, huh?” he said.
We didn’t know if he was referring to the Comic Con, the storm itself or L.J.s defiant perseverance. It didn’t matter, really. We took the sandal and left the fairgrounds behind, putting a hopeful end to Comic Con 2015, anxious at the thought of reuniting a boy and his sandal.