Who’d have thought dinner at a pizza parlour on a Saturday night would be like attending a science fiction convention? I certainly never did – at least, I never thought it was something that could happen by chance. But it did this past weekend.
My wife had come out to meet me at an event in Burnaby early in the evening as I was packing up a display table I’d been manning for the non-profit agency I work for. We decided to amble over to Me-n-Ed’s Pizza for a late dinner. The evening proceeded normally enough: we took a booth over by the windows, we shared a Caesar salad, my wife ordered her usual - a small roast garlic & smoked salmon pizza, I bellied up to a large gangster pizza (I know what you’re thinking and you might as well stop now – I may be portly, but I sure can’t finish a large pie by myself in one sitting – I’m not quite that much of a glutton – yet – I’ve gotta have leftovers for lunch the next day!) accompanied by a frosty bottle of rootbeer (ever since I was a kid, I’ve always felt a quality pizza needs a good rootbeer to truly get down into your soul and make you feel happy).
That’s when it happened.
We were talking about which of this summer’s roster of popcorn sci-fi and fantasy flicks we wanted to see when something a few tables over, I can’t remember what, caught our attention. Just as we were chuckling over some of the latest internet gossip about the movie “Fanboys”, something made us look over at a table of guys who looked, well, just like the characters from the “Fanboys” promo. And, true to appearances, they were talking about sci-fi movies and comics. The topic, if I remember correctly, was their collective opinion about what they perceived as an unwritten rule that “the main character can’t die”. Sure, it’s an assertion that I’d probably disagree with (I can think of at least half a dozen sci-fi films off the top of my head where the protagonist does, in fact, shuffle off his/her mortal coil by the time the curtain falls), but it’s the fact that our fellow geeks were chatting about SF movies, not four metres away from us, at the same time we were that was a bit of an odd coincidence.
Reaching for the hot chili flakes, we changed the conversation to books – a review of Cory Doctorow’s “Overclocked”.
But that wasn’t all.
Oh no, a one-off like that, in and of itself, would be a bit weird, but not entirely surprising. I can remember moseying down Broadway one night into Memphis Blues for some ribs, chatting about an episode of the new Battlestar Galactica, when, as we waited by the door for a seat, we overheard a nearby table of eight discussing the misadventures of Admiral Adama & co.
No, this night at the old pizza parlour was a threefer… About 15 minutes later, two big guys came in the front door - one of them a dead-ringer for Blues Traveler lead singer/harmonica player Jon Popper (minus the sideburns and the ammo bandolier loaded with harmonicas) – and grabbed a table about five metres away, pulling out a couple of Magic decks for a quiet game as they waited to order their dinner.
What was it that, without apparent rhyme or reason, attracted three groups of sci-fi fans to the same pizza parlour and caused us all to sit in the same section within a couple of tables of each other? It was like some weird version of Highlander, except with pizzas and fanboy talk instead of swords and Sean Connery and headhunting, where something inexplicable drew us to the same spot. It was like going to a con, where each table was a different room with a different discussion or activity. It was fun, in its weirdly unexpected way. Probably worth dining-in at the pizza parlour more often instead of just getting take-out.