On November 24, 1980, I was 7-years-old. To a 7-year-old, the universe is microscopic, but unbeknownst to me, that universe was under attack.
Planet Mongo Emperor Ming the Merciless thought nothing of obliterating Earth if we Earthlings didn’t subjugate ourselves to his power. Lesser mortals would certainly cave to fear, but, to the benefit of all Earthlings, Flash Gordon was no mere mortal. Dr. Hans Zarkov blasted himself, Flash and Dale Arden into outer space to escape the unnatural disasters pounding Earth. Dr. Zarkov knew these were a sign of Earth’s impending doom. Once in space, they sped their way into the path of Mongo and the influence of Emperor Ming.
With the help of Dr. Zarkov, Dale Arden, Ming’s daughter Aura, Prince Barin, and Prince Voltan, Flash Gordon defeated Emperor Ming in a decisive final confrontation. He saved every one of us.
Even though I’ve given you the ending, I won’t ruin the details for you. It’s all told in glorious detail in dramatized film of Flash Gordon’s exploits, appropriately titled Flash Gordon. I recommend it, since the history books have forgotten what every Gen-X adult knows to be reality. I watched Flash Gordon every time it was on HBO when I was a kid. It was awesome every time.
At the Star Trek convention, Danielle and I walked around the dealer auditorium to discover the commercialism behind the adventure. During our lap around the room, we saw the celebrities signing autographs. One of these celebrities, certainly bigger than all the rest, was Sam J. Jones. I had one thought: “Sweet Jesus, it’s Flash Gordon!”
Danielle asked me if I wanted to meet him then. No, no I didn’t. I would be a tad too fan-girlie, so I needed time to compose myself. We would come back after Wil Wheaton’s book reading.
After meeting Wil Wheaton, it was time to meet Flash Gordon, or I’d never have the courage to do it. We walked to his table. Step. And step. And step. The anticipation was sweet agony.
We made it to the table, but he wasn’t there! Oh, shit. I’d missed my chance. But his stuff was still here, he couldn’t be gone. We looked around.
Whew, there he was. We waited. He saw us standing at his table, so he walked over.
“Hi, I’m Sam Jones, nice to meet you.” He stuck out his hand. I grabbed it.
Holy fucking shit, I’m shaking Flash Gordon’s hand!
I introduced myself. When I’m star-struck, I’m a little stupid, so I introduced myself with a full-name introduction.
After a few pleasantries, I asked how much for an autograph. Nothing is free at a convention, but I knew that, which made it not tacky. There were two levels to the pricing structure: picture or poster. The picture was half the price of the poster, but I had to have the Super-Fine-Deluxe poster. It was Flash Gordon.
I handed over my money. He signed the poster, adding a nice touch to his autograph by signing his “real” name above his name. See for yourself.
Then he made me a deal. Since I bought the poster, he would buy the giant sleeve for the poster. In any other situation, this would be bizarre and shameless, but at a Star Trek convention, it was appropriate. He pointed Danielle and me in the direction of the dealer selling the giant sleeves. The dealer tables were placed close together, making it hard to decipher which table he meant. He realized this, so he walked us over there.
Holy fucking shit, Flash Gordon is our tour guide through the auditorium!
He bought me the sleeve and thanked me again. Then he was gone. Too soon, our Flash Gordon adventure was over, but we learned something along the way: Flash Gordon can still motor. What else should I have expected, though? He saved the universe.