(Doug "ReX13" Richardson [right] spends time with a wheelchair-bound guest at the expo. If we put a smile on that poor, rotund man’s face, then the whole trip was worth it.)
As the Boeing 757 descends in to Boston Logan Airport, I look out the window and contemplate the path that’s led me here. One year ago, I was just another guy on one of the world’s most popular MMA blogs. Now, I’ve ducked out of work for a couple of days to attend the UFC’s Boston Fan Expo as a guest of my favorite website. I’m not just a fan; I’m taking what I hope to be another step toward actually working as a writer. Somewhere down there, Ben Goldstein is carrying around an exhibitor pass that has my name on it. I claim my baggage, which is split evenly between electronics and clothing, and hustle out to catch a taxi. A Ugandan cabbie asks for my destination, and speeds away toward the Hynes Convention Center. I pepper him with questions (because that’s what I do when I meet people) but he’s not in the mood to talk, so I settle back for the short ride and get my first look at Boston. Mostly, I get a good view of the results of the Big Dig, Boston’s massive twenty-five year freeway improvement project that has six lane highways routed under the Boston Harbor. Once we leave the turnpike, however, the views of the Harbor and the Charles River are incredible. Everything is vibrant, people and dogs are everywhere, and there isn’t a cloud in the sky.
We find my hotel, and I spend very little time settling in. It’s Thursday, and I’ve gotten it in my head that I’m needed. I walk to the Hynes Center, and mange to locate Ben after a few texts and a phone call. We shake hands, and walk back to booth 2017. There, Ben shows me the signage he’s already erected, and the swag he’s brought to entice the hordes that will descend upon us tomorrow. On one side is the punch machine, a simple carnival game that most of us have seen plenty of times. Ben hits the start button, and rips a nice right hook at the bag. "You take boxing classes, right?" I ask. "Yeah," Ben says, "Muay Thai." I help him with a few last minute touches, including checking on a table rental for the booth, but most of the work is done. Ben checks his watch, and announces that there’s really nothing left to do here: "Wanna go get a drink?"