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Monday, September 6, 2010

Ruminations of an Old Goat


It seemed as it took forever, but Thursday, September 2, finally arrived. I put in half a day of work then M, the Boy, and I piled into the minivan and were off to Atlanta for Dragon*Con. The six hour drive passed quickly and before I knew it, we were face-to-face with Arisia and unloading the car. Skip another hour and I was on a street corner in downtown Atlanta, finally meeting Bruce, Karen, and the Kid in person. Then Leatherwing and his wife, Rhonda, showed up and we did the greeting thing again.

Looking across the street from our corner, we saw the registration line wrapped all the way around the hotel in which registration was held. Immediately, I began to regret not having registered in advance like Leatherwing and Rhonda. Then we learned the four-block line was for those who preregistered. While Leatherwing and Rhonda joined the line in which they would spend the next four hours, the rest of us were able to walk right in and register in a matter of minutes.

Over dinner we all realized we didn't have to get to know anyone because we already knew everyone. Well, the Kid and the Boy didn't know anyone, but within five minutes the teenage boys were yammering like they'd been friends for years. Years from now, I won't remember the food, but I'll remember the fellowship.


From the moment we arrived, the convention was crowded. I've been to many Dragon*Cons through out the years but even I was unprepared for the mass of humanity. With the dealer's rooms (plural, there were three of them) not opening until 1:00, I took advantage of the time to contribute blood at the Dragon*Con blood drive. Later, after lunch, we wandered the dealers' rooms and just marveled at the array of items available for sale. Especially corsets. There were at least half a dozen different dealers selling corsets. We walked a lot without ever really getting very far. The Boy got tired. Chris got tired. I got tired. M, apparently made of sterner stuff, didn't even take advantage of chairs when we had them available.

There was a dizzying array of costumes, ranging from silly to sexy, from adequate to astounding. As usual, there were plenty of costumes that showed lots and lots of flesh, almost all of them worn by women. In a pleasant change, most of the women wearing particularly revealing costumes had the body necessary to pull it off.

For the evening, we packed our hotel room with all the Challengers at the convention, ordered pizza, bought beer and soda, and settled in to judge the Friday Challenge. With only my netbook and Arisia's aging laptop, there was no way we could just pass the stories around. How could we judge if people couldn't read the stories? Yeah, like there was any doubt about the solution.

After all, there was a storyteller in the room.

With food consumed and a beer on the table next to me, I began reading. And reading. And reading. At this point, I'd like to post a special thanks to Miko for his very brief entry. I needed to read something really short after reading The Bandit's 2800 word entry! Just kidding, Bandit! Mostly. (In truth, I had a blast, loving every minute of it.)

The discussion after all of the stories had been read was lively and fascinating. We were able to delve deeply into each story, really hashing and thrashing out thoughts and ideas. It was a truly great evening, one I am certain I will never forget.


Day one wasn't really over until about 1:00 AM, so we weren't in quite the same hurry to get going on Saturday. Chris, M, the Boy and I got to the convention around 11:00 AM, just in time to have missed Dragon*Con's famous costume parade. We hit the one dealers' room we had missed on Friday, talked up Stupefying Stories (M is amazingly good at this, I might add), bought the Boy a t-shirt, grabbed our lunch, and headed to the Hyatt for the Star Wars Costume Contest.

We were in the Hyatt when my cell phone rang. My wife was calling. Through poor reception and the noise of the crowd, I listened to one of those phone calls no one wants to receive when they're a six hour drive from home. My wife was at the hospital with a dangerously low blood count.

For the Boy, M, and me, Dragon*Con was over.

With sinking spirits, I call Bruce and explain what was happening. Then we went back to hotel, packed quickly, and began the longest six hour drive of my life. Fortunately, I got a couple of more calls from my wife, ones with good cell reception and no Dragon*Con noise. She was in good spirits, saying the doctors were surprised she could even walk, her blood count was so low. Her calls helped calm me down and slow me down. I had been driving about 80 mph prior to her final call. I finished the trip off at a sedate 75.

Audrey spent Saturday night and most of the day Sunday in the hospital. She is home now, resting from the ordeal. We still don't know what the problem is, though the hematologist who will perform further tests told her he could almost certainly rule out leukemia just by looking at her red blood cells. He'll still test for it as a precaution, but at least it is now a remote horror, no longer buzzing around in the forefront of my brain.

In the end, it was a great weekend and a terrible weekend. I hate the way it ended but loved finally meeting everyone in person and am bound and determined to find a way for us to do this again in the future.

Maybe you'll be able to join us next time.
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