Suddenly I spot the Childlike Empress from The Never Ending Story. I kneel to take her picture, telling her how beautiful she is. Then, back to shuffling.
There's a woman wearing nothing but panties and two small stickers that say "America." There's a 10-foot rabbit with fangs. There's No-Face, offering gold coins.
Two elegant vampires adjust their lace collars and snuggle close for my camera. Gold Member offers me a "schmoke and a pancake." Immortan Joe sprays (edible) chrome into the mouth of a willing volunteer.
There's a dull roar of happy chaos all around me, and even when the mobs halts completely, trapping me for long minutes in a vise of sweaty elbows and foam armor, I am deliriously content.
What's more, that wise-cracking robot behind me is drawing the most delighted reactions. People shout and grin and laugh. They demand to know how he's made. They shower him with compliments, and I'm glowing inside, because even though they don't know it, I helped make that happen.
John and I stay too late, because we can't get enough of the madness. Next week I'll be an agoraphobic recluse again, only seeing a few people a week, rarely speaking to anyone besides John. But tonight? Tonight I introduce myself to cosplayers and photographers and minor internet celebrities, all people I admire online, and tell them I'm a fan. I meet dozens more of my own fans. I make new friends. I have surprisingly insightful, off-the-cuff discussions about Ghostbusters with random strangers. I talk 'til my voice rasps, and I smile 'til my cheeks ache.
This is Dragon Con.