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Coats of a Brownish Colour

First aired: The Signal: Season 8, Episode 2
Written by Helen Eaton
Read by Helen Eaton
Edited by Helen Eaton

What questions do you ask when you meet people for the first time? I think most of us start with finding out people’s names, where they come from and what they do for a living, but where do we go after that? I often find myself asking people what they like to do with their free time, in the hope of finding some common ground. It usually takes me a little while to get to the question “So, have you heard of Firefly?”, but with some careful priming, I find it’s possible to do it fairly naturally, and without scaring people off.

Recently though I had the rather shiny experience of not being the first one to bring up the subject of Firefly and Serenity for a change. I had invited two new colleagues for lunch in my flat and as we were eating, one of them commented on the Firefly and Serenity books in my bookshelf. At this point in the conversation, we were still working through the “Where did you go to college?” type questions and I hadn’t even begun the winding path of questions about free time and film preferences which I had hoped would eventually create a natural moment to ask about Firefly. As you can imagine, I took it as a good sign that I hadn’t had to bring up the topic myself. It turned out that my new colleagues had seen Serenity ten or so times and were most definitely fellow Browncoats.

I imagine many of you listening to this now will have had similar experiences of chance meetings with other Browncoats at work, but for me this was the first time. I was excited that I could look forward to the happy prospect of day-to-day contact with Firefly fans that was not solely online. I’m not expecting that it will necessarily mean that we will get along famously and become firm friends. I certainly hope we do, but Browncoats come in all shapes and sizes and there’s no guarantee that we will get on. A love of Firefly may turn out to be the only patch of common ground between us. We might disagree entirely on what books we like to read or music we like to listen to and so on.

What I do know though is that I now share an office with two people who won’t just politely tolerate me when I talk about Firefly, they will get it. We can swap stories about how we found the ‘verse or chat over the latest exploits of Joss Whedon and his fellow BDHs, and we will be speaking the same language. But I expect conversations of this kind will be few. Unless there is some miraculous announcement of new Firefly content in the near future, I don’t think we’re going to have many conversations that focus entirely on Firefly. And that’s okay. Firefly is by far not the most important part of my life and I don’t want that to change.

What I’m looking forward to even more than the occasional chat about Firefly is being around people who will get it when I make a throwaway reference to Firefly. I can wonder aloud about whether I should go and get the “chain of command” to deal with an awkward colleague, or mutter “go run your little world” under my breath, and know that it won’t just be for an audience of one. Even a simple “Ain’t we just” or “That a fact?” with the appropriate intonation will raise a smile when said in front of a fellow Browncoat.

When I think about the joy of being around people who “get it” - who understand me - it brings me back again to Firefly itself. One of the reasons I warm so much to the characters is that I get them, or to put it another way, that I relate to them. Our circumstances could not be more different (not least because they are fictional and I’m not!), but I see how they struggle to find their place in the ‘verse and make peace with their lot, and I get it. I see how they are searching for a home and a family, and I get it.

And it’s even better when I can share these feelings with some fellow non-fictional characters.

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