When I was a boy of sixteen, I was deeply into the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden. Nearly every one of their albums came with an insert listing all the great band merchandise you could buy and the address of their fan club, the source of all t-shirts, buttons, and other doodads. The address revealed them to be headquartered in Macon, Georgia.

This thrilled me beyond belief. I have family in Macon, and at the time I visited Georgia pretty much every year. The next visit was coming up in a few months, so I eagerly phoned my aunt and uncle and pleaded with them to take me to see the Iron Maiden Fan Club.

Man, was it going to be cool. I knew that the headquarters of the Iron Maiden Fan Club had to be the rockinest place in the world. I was sure that it was just one huge 24-hour party there, with Maiden tunes blasting at all times and a bunch of hot metal chicks dancing (at all times). Dude - they probably all knew the guys in the band personally! I pictured myself being regaled with insider anecdotes while they lay all kinds of cool free stuff on me for making this pilgrimage all the way from Las Vegas.

The whole time I was in Macon I was restless, fidgety, and anxious. I couldn't wait to go. Finally, on my last day in town, we went. My aunt had called ahead and made sure it was okay for me to visit, and they had told her that they would indeed have some free stuff waiting for me. Rock on!!! As we pulled up in front of the address, I found myself looking at a fairly nondescript house that had apparently been turned into an office suite. The name of a marketing company was on the signpost out front. I nervously left the car and walked through the front door.

It was indeed an office suite. With secretaries and men in Arrow shirts and ties. I walked up to the receptionist and stammeringly introduced myself. "Oh, right," she said. "Here you go." She handed me a stack of merchandise catalogs and turned back to her work.

I mumbled my thanks and left, minus one layer of naïveté.

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