Since everyone’s sharing their Tom stories and I’ve finally been able to gather my thoughts enough to jot something down, I guess I’ll join in! So starting with the photo-op: like everyone else, I was freaking out. Like, really freaking out. It got worse the closer I got to the front of the line. I’ve been dying to meet Tom for 3 years now, got close to meeting him 2 times previously but failed. Now it was finally gonna happen, and I felt totally helpless and unprepared. What was I going to say?? How to pose?? I wanted to hug him, was dying to, but was so afraid that it would end up being awkward. After all, I am awkward almost 100% percent of the time.
Fast-forwarding to the moment of truth: when I finally got on the other side of that big red curtain, I was shaking and my heart was beating out of my chest. I was completely unaware of the people going in front of me, as I was anxiously preoccupied with handing over my ticket and putting all of my other stuff on the table. Suddenly, I realized that it was my turn. About four complete strangers were all staring in my direction, and most importantly, so was Tom.
My heart skipped a beat as I walked over to him with a big grin on my face. I think I said “hi” but I don’t actually remember hearing anything come out of my mouth. He grinned and said “hi” back, holding out his arm. Mustering my courage, I went for the hug. His arm was around my waist, but all that I had suddenly become intensely aware of was the fact that my hand was ON HIS ABS. All I could think was “wow”, but then it got EVEN BETTER. He LAUGHED. ACTUALLY LAUGHED. THE LEGENDARY HIDDLES LAUGH. RIGHT IN MY EAR. As he did, his abs moved beneath my hand, and I swear I almost died. Right there. On the spot. But somehow, I managed to smile and not look like a complete idiot. I survived the “ehehe”.
When I started to walk away, he was still grinning and I think I thanked him but I don’t really remember. I was kind of in a daze after that, but I managed to stumble over to the table, gather my things, and exit the booth.
Moving on to the autograph: now, this didn’t go at all as planned considering the fact that I ended up pretty far back in line. Tom was really behind schedule at this point (due to the inefficiency of Wizard World’s scheduling) and he ended up being really rushed. The staff were saying that he “had to go” and that he was doing “no more hugs” and “no more personalizations”. Luckily, I hadn’t planned on asking for a hug anyway. I’ll admit that I was irritated and angry because I had watched so many fans go before me and get so much time with him, not rushed at all. But I got to the point where I was ready to accept whatever happened and just appreciate getting to meet him and give him the painting I made for him.
When I finally got up there (it was quite a long wait), I watched him sign my photo (personalized despite the new “rule”), and he said my name (Madison) as he wrote it. I almost died again. Then he looked up, and I handed him my painting of Loki, saying “Tom, this is for you.” He took it and paused, his eyes widening. “Wow,” he said. “That’s amazing.” He then made eye contact with me and said very sincerely: “Thank you.”
And in that moment, it was all worth it. It gave me so much joy just to make his day even a little bit better. Seeing him so exhausted and rushed made me extremely frustrated with whoever overbooked him, and by that point I was feeling quite guilty but protective of him at the same time. I responded with “Thank YOU”, and went on my way, feeling very appreciative and lucky that he had even decided to come all the way to Philly and spend two full days with his fans. He is such a special, special man, and he deserves all the happiness in the world.