Humiliated by what I am, I skulk from booth to booth, lurking in the back of the lecture halls, showing up at screenings after the lights go down. They call out for me to join the gaming tables, the filking circles, the memorabilia swaps — and I lurch away, head bowed under absurd plumage of shame. Even here, of all places, I am outside.
Their unselfconscious revelry is not burdened by loathing of the ridiculous roles they play, not burdened by loathing of themselves. They exchange the names of avatars; later they’ll meet on digital battlegrounds I am too embarrassed to visit. I will peel off hair appliances and prosthetics, carefully fold the fabric of my costume, and hang the ceremonial blades — undrawn from their scabbards, yet again — in theback of the closet.
Then I’ll shower away the rank smell of post-adolescent fantasy and put my street clothes back on.