"Who are you?" asked Arnie.
"It's me, Arnie," I replied. "Rob Hansen."
"Who is Rob Hansen," he responded, "and how did he get here?"
"Are you feeling OK?" I asked, concernedly. "Are you sure you haven't been working too hard searching for those Cosmic Circle love-camps in the Ozarks?"
"I'm fine. What I meant is: how did you get where you are today? I think our readers would like to know a bit more about your personal fannish history. Rob."

Well, OK, I guess. Maybe it is time to come clean and tell the true story of my beginnings.

The first thing you need to know about me, is that I am the last survivor of a doomed planet, and that I was sent here as a baby by my scientist father, who warned of our world's imminent destruction but couldn't get anyone to listen. Arriving on Earth, I was found and raised as their own son by Ma and Pa Hansen, a kindly couple who instilled in me the sturdy Midwestern values of a Kansas farm family... which was a little odd as they were Welsh. As I grew older, they were astonished to discover that I had powers and abilities no greater than those of mortal men. No faster than a speeding ballot, unable to leap tall dupers at a single bound, no stronger than a loco neo, being mild-mannered was not a pose with me. And I needed the glasses for real.

One day, in my teens. I was sitting on the beach with my then girlfriend, Jane, when a large guy ran by, kicking sand in our faces.

"Hey!" I yelled. "Quit kicking sand in our faces!"
"That man is the worst fakefan on the beach," said Jane.
"You got a problem, pal?" asked the jerk, pulling me to my feet. "Listen here, I'd smash your face...only you're such a neo you might dry up and blow away." With that he pushed me flat on my backside. "Ha, ha," he laughed as he walked away. "What a scrawny runt."
"That big bully," I fumed. "I'll get even with him some day."
"Oh, don't let it bother you, little boy!" sneered Jane, contemptuously.

Back home, I kicked a chair for no very good reason and vowed to change: "Damn it, I'm tired of being a neo." That's when I saw it. There, on the back of an old issue of LOCUS, was an ad for the Charles Burbee Method, which could turn a 98-LoC neo into a robust trufan and give him a manly fanzine, rippling with muscular articles. Eagerly, I filled in the form. Yes, I did want Charles to rush me a copy of his book, Dynamic Fanning, so that I too could learn the techniques of the Secret Masters.

The next time I went to the beach, the bully withered in the face of my award winning zine and slunk away.
"Oh, Rob, you are a trufan after all!" gushed Jane.
"Gosh what a fanzine!" I heard a young woman sitting nearby say.
"Yes," agreed her companion. "He's already famous for it."
Which is how I became 'Trufan of the Beach'!

You can't spend all your time on the beach, however, and not long afterwards I stumbled into a long-abandoned subway tunnel, at the end of which was a cave where, sitting on a stone throne and wreathed in smoke, was a strange, white-haired man.

"Greetings," said Ted White. "You have been chosen to receive powers far beyond those of mortal fen, to battle mundanity and telepathic alien worms in the guise of Captain Fandom. Saying the magic word FIAWOL will transform you, giving you the calmness of Abi Frost, the layout skills of Dave Ish, the modesty of Forry Ackerman, the cartooning ability of Walt Willis, the aggressiveness of Simon Ounsley, and the tolerance of Francis T. Laney."
"Dave Ish?!!"
"You try coming up with fans whose surname starts with 'I'," he replied, testily. "So, are you going to try saying the magic word or not?"
So I did. Nothing happened, of course. Leaving the old guy to whatever it was he'd been smoking, I exited the cave only to have a flyer for that year's Eastercon blow into my hand. So it was that I got to attend my first convention. And I've never looked back.

There are a thousand stories in the naked city. This has been three of them.


- first published in WILD HEIRS #16 (August 1996, ed. the Vegrants)


((The Vegrants are/were a Las Vegas fan group centred around Arnie and Joyce Katz))