When I met Rufio in 2014

Alright, so tonight I am writing about an experience I had on Novemeber 1, 2014.

On Halloween night, I had been out to a house party in Oklahoma City with a friend of mine. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had any time or money for the costume that I wanted (a doll). At the time, I was on the only transporting team for a hospital, and we ended up being out until 10 pm (my friend lived over an hour away and I had to run home to get dressed and ready for the drive). I was just having a genuinely upsetting Halloween. I had decided to settle on just wearing a black dress. I didn’t necessarily look witchy, so I couldn’t claim a witch… I didn’t have a chance to put any sort of makeup on. So, I was just myself… but in heels and a black dress.

At the party, I had over heard someone mention they had been to the anime convention in Bricktown earlier that day. It’s called Izumicon. I had been a few years ago with my sister and her friends, and had even convinced a couple of my friends to go with me another year. That first year I went, I met Rikki Simons (voice of Gir from Invader Zim), a few years later, my friend Christine and I met Vic Mignogna (voice of Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist), and many others. However, this year, when I looked at the guests line up, the first one that I noticed was Dante Basco.

Dante Basco was the voice of Zuko in The Last Airbender series and Jake Long in Disney Channel’s American Dragon series. However, where I knew him from was from his role as Rufio in Hook (1991).

When I was a kid, I had that movie on VHS (old school, yo), and I wore it out. I played it several times a day. I could quote the movie from start to finish. I even had a huge pink bunny that normally ended up with his ears tied together and I pretended that was Rufio (yes, a huge pink bunny) while I jumped on the bed and off dressers to pretend I was flying while he and Peter Pan fought Hook. That movie was a huge part of my childhood. So, needless to say, when I saw he was on the guest lineup I knew what I would be doing with my November 1st.

I woke up the next day on my friend’s couch. I cleaned myself up as best as possible in her bathroom, gathered my things, and locked her door. I was already running a little late – because I wanted to be there early for the line. I knew there would be a line.

Parking in Bricktown was maddening. I ended up parking several blocks away and I put enough change in the parking meter to be there for at least 4 hours. When I finally made it to the doors, I was greeted with the familiar site of people in cosplay. I bought my ticket from a girl dressed in a cute white Lolita dress and blonde curls, and went to the restroom to make sure I looked alright. I still felt like I was a hot mess from the night before, but I worked with what I had.

When I got back down to the the doors, a small line had formed. I was the 9th person in line and I was 45 minutes from seeing one of my childhood heroes. Not too shabby. As I sat in the line, I had wished I had a copy of Hook for him to sign, but I figured they’d have something in there. If all else failed, I had my Izumicon pamphlet. While waiting, I was invited to play my first ever game of Cards Against Humanity. When I’m alone, I’m pretty shy about interacting with other people… but this game sounded so fun I couldn’t resist. Now I have my own deck.

Anyways, our game ended and they opened the doors. As I walked through, I kept thinking Man, just keep cool. You’re shy, but how many times do you get to meet Dante Basco? HOW MANY TIMES DO YOU GET TO MEET RUFIO? They started to divide the line as we approached the tables – I stepped to the side and realized that most of the people in front were going to see both guests at the panel… I ended up being the second person in line to meet him.

I watched as he walked in front of the crowd with his phone – taking a video. I couldn’t believe it. I hardly paid attention to the girl in front of me while she got a poster signed and a picture taken. Mostly, I was thinking, When you walk up there, don’t fall on your face because this is exactly one of those moments where you would probably find a way to do that.

Then, my turn.

I walked up while he sat at the table, and shook his hand. I was so nervous, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to talk. He asked my name, and I told him. I purchased a Rufio poster for him to sign. As he signed, I blurted out, “You got me into a lot of trouble as a kid.” He laughed asking how and I told him about being a kid and playing the tape hundreds of times, about jumping on beds and furniture playing and pretending to be fighting along side him and Peter Pan. He was extremely polite and kind. He asked what I did, I told him that I am a writer. I know I wasn’t there for a while, but we talked about writing. I hadn’t realized that he wrote poetry. I even talked about how the whole story of Peter Pan inspired the setting for a story I wrote and placed 3rd in a statewide contest in high school – and that was the beginning of me realizing I loved telling stories. I told him I had been published twice, and had just finished college.

I even worked up some courage and asked for a picture with him. When you’re a kid and you know a person on television is older than you, you normally see that person as being taller… because everyone else is taller than you. When he stood, we was only a few inches taller than me. It made the kid in me realize how much I had actually grown up (even though that same kid was also trying to keep its composer because I was standing next to Rufio). Somehow, I had even discussed how the story of Peter Pan also influenced my decision to adopt when I am ready to start a family.

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When he stood he told me he liked my necklace, and in the picture my face is still red from blushing. I shook his hand again, he told me to “keep lookin’ out for those Lost Kids” and smiled.

When I got out, I called my mom and dad. The visit to Izumicon was a spontaneous thing, so when I told them both that I had met Dante Basco, they thought I was joking and talking about someone in costume. My Halloween may have been disappointing, but the next day made up for it.

I still have the Rufio poster he signed for me, I framed it immediately so that it wouldn’t get damaged on the ride home. A full year later, I still tell people I met him and share the experience. I checked into some of his Youtube videos and read some of his poetry. Despite being an English major, I rarely got into poetry (I sure as hell can’t write any), but I definitely am a fan of his.

I wasn’t just meeting a celebrity, I met a fellow writer. It kind of gave me inspiration and motivation to keep on writing. At the time that I met him, I was feeling a little depressed because I wasn’t happy at my job and I hadn’t had a thing to write about since I graduated college in May. It was just a cherry on top of the whole experience to learn he loves writing too. Most people I do meet hate writing and don’t read much at all.

So, anyways. If I could meet him again, I would tell him thank you for the motivation to keep my chin up. It was a highlight in 2014 for me.

Here is the video from Dante Basco’s Youtube Channel.

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