It began at Anime North 2000, which I attended with my boyfriend, Chris. I entered the con as an unknown otaku, with a few well-received fanfics under my belt, and quietly hung around enjoying myself with some friends from online, namely fellow fanfic authors Amanda "Greenbeans" Anderson (whom I'd met in real life the year before), Sean Gaffney, Joan McDougall, and Carp. On the negative side, I didn't get to meet LeVar Bouyer; on the plus side, I met Alan Harnum (although at the time I hadn't yet discovered that he's quite likely the best Utena fic author on the net, and so it made more of an impression in retrospect).
We all wanted to spend a lot of time with Beans, and so we wound up hanging out with the Fanboys by default (the ranks of people around her split neatly into Fanboys and FOBs: Friends of Beans). She and Chaos, the writer of the Fanboys saga, have an interesting dynamic going on: online, they're arch-enemies, warring with each other for possession of Beans' series mascot, a lake god. (Note: 'warring' here means that Beans created and owns the thing, and Chaos stubbornly refuses to notice her kicking his ass every time he tries to swipe it.) In real life, however, they've become really, really good friends, and she's a part of the Fanboys crowd. I had never met any of these people. Although I'd heard of the story, I'd never read it. (I had tried once, but had seen far too few different anime to make any sense out of it at the time.) So I was spending a large chunk of my con time surrounded by very weird strangers with even weirder names. Sarcasm, Riot, and Carnage I remember seeing only in passing. Word has it I did meet Desolation and Demolition, but you couldn't prove it by me. And I know I didn't meet Chaos, because he was unable to attend that year due to being out of the country and not having perfected teleportation yet.
I did spend some time talking to Havoc, Mayhem, and Jelynne (head of the Fanboys Auxiliary Corps), and that was all good. But talking idly to them did not prepare me at all for the fateful moment. I was in a large room with lots of people, talking to someone (I know not who, or what about), when suddenly Havoc's voice rang out. "Hysteria!" he boomed. "We've found our Hysteria!"
There was applause. I looked up to see what had just happened . . . only to find them all looking at me. I think I may have said something articulate like "Um, what?" And then, under such scrutiny, I panicked and ran away. Ah, the dignity.
It took several attempts at explanation before I considered going back. Beans carefully outlined the way the characters in the Fanboys story had come into being: they were each based on a real person, except for Hysteria, who was a plot device (or something). It was also pointed out that Chaos had sworn to commit suicide if a 'real' Hysteria were ever found, and so therefore he shouldn't be informed until he got home. (That should have been my first clue about how much everyone dislikes Hysteria.)
I waffled. Beans and Havoc told me what fun the whole thing was, and how it was a good thing, and I should take on the mantle of Hysteria. I continued to be uncertain. So, since explanations weren't working, they bribed me. They gave me the iron-ons to make my very own, one-of-a-kind Hysteria t-shirt. I caved.
By the end of the con, life had changed. I was operating on no sleep, had performed a scene from the fanfic live in a restaurant, and promised Havoc that I'd read the entire story by the next con. (I don't actually know how long it is, but it's pretty huge.) I embraced my persona. I returned to Halifax happy and refreshed, and started to gradually work my way through the fic. I stayed in touch with Havoc online, and when Chaos returned I started to talk to him as well.
Eventually, though, the fateful truth came to light: Hysteria is a terrifying, annoying, devastatingly cute child. And stupid. O_O Unspeakably stupid. (Her profile says, "Cute as a button and just as smart".) There is no reason in the world why I shouldn't have clued in sooner, but still it all took me aback. Luckily, Havoc and Beans once again came to my rescue. I won't reveal their reasoning, but I was once again happy to be included in the group. In those spirits, I headed out to Anime North 2001, which I enjoyed thoroughly. But that's another story.
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