ConText 2009 part 1

There were too many of us to go up in one car, so we had ourselves a convoy. Well, we had two vehicles.

We made stops at two independent discount bookstores on the way because…you know…none of us has enough books.

At the hotel, the Designated Payer whipped out her plastic and asked what the charge was. Was told. Prepared to log the expense. Was told, “Oh, plus taxes and mumblety-mumblety.” Said, “…Okay, so what’s the CHARGE?” Was told. Prepared to log expenses. Was told, “And I’ll have to add $25 a night for extraneous charges.” “Like what?” “Like phone calls and room service and things.” Finally got a firm amount–“Is that your final answer?” and we had a ROOM.

Five people. One bed. Oh, the sofa in the chocolate chip room opened into a bed. I call it a chocolate chip room because it was a semi-suite. ONE bedroom containing ONE bed and a lounge area containing a couch and a chair. The bathroom, however, was big enough to declare independence.

But this is all by the way.

Went to registration and got registration packets. All was well, except that one member’s last name was spelled incorrectly in one place–her name badge. She corrected. We are nothing if not adept at edits. And–oh, yes–another member acquired an additional name. Member Marian Allen’s husband will be interested to learn that she is now to be known as Rinaldo. Or, as she was called with increasing panache over the weekend, RrrrrrrinAHHHLdo!

The Huckster’s Room (also known as the Dealer’s Room–the place people sell things) was lovely: wall-to-wall books, hand-made clothing and jewelry, board games, dice with a wide variety of colors and sides–(games, for the playing of). The ConText staff had a table at which they sold the books of anyone who didn’t claim a table in time. They asked for a paltry 10% commission, which would go to support the 2010 con. Good deal.

We checked out the Hospitality Suite, apparently among the first to do so. There were snacks and, because we were perishing for some, the Con Staff in charge of the Hospitality Room made coffee. Other attendees drifted in on the scent, and soon we were spread out in the room, making new friends–fellow fans, fellow writers, agents, publishers of small presses, nice people all around.

We returned to the room to eat. Hotel food is usually expensive and we didn’t want to leave the convention to forage, so we brought our own. Boy, did we bring our own! Bean dip salad, smoked spiced ham, foccaccia, French bread, three kinds of pickles, pimiento cheese, Benedictine spread (which spreads much better with a knife than it does with the edge of a paper bag, which we had to use in the car on the way up, the flatware being in the other vehicle), hummus, garlic butter…. Nom nom nom.

At 9:30, we took party supplies up to Sara Larson’s chocolate chip–I mean, semi-suite–for the event we were co-hosting with Apex Publishing and the Indiana Horror Writers. Good music, good conversation, a packed house, scheduled to go from 10pm to 2am, but at 12:30 comes a knock upon the door.

It was Security, in the form of an unsmiling man of considerable heft and totally no hair. Now, I’m a Yul Brenner fan from way back. I have no problem with bald. But, if your head comes to an actual, I-kid-you-not point, maybe bald is not the best way to go. I don’t mean to be snarky, but I take my oath, you could put this man in a Howitzer and he would totally hit the target. You could use him as a bunker buster. So he refuses to enter the room when invited, but wants the official occupant to step outside. She does. His idea of a first warning is not, “Turn down the music and speak quietly.” His idea of a first warning is, “Clear the room, or I’ll clear it.” Because it was a room filled with intelligent people who were there to enjoy conversation and company, the room was cleared and cleaned within fifteen minutes, no argument and no backtalk.

Back in the room, we filled in the SIW members who had left the party early. Uncertain whether to dub the Security guy Paul Blart, Mall Cop or Barney Bullethead, we settled on Barney Blart. Got ready to turn in and discovered that all the drawers and cabinets were empty. There were sheets for the fold-out couch, but no blankets. One member went to the desk to ask for more and was told there were no more. “WHAT! WHAT?” Holding up fingers, she did the math: “Five people, two beds, ONE BLANKET?” She came back to the room and said, “They’re going to send us a bunch of extra sheets, instead. Guess who’s bringing them.” Barney Blart.

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