July 29, 2009

At five AM on Tuesday we load up a storage van with booth stuff for the trip down to Comic Con. Bringing stuff downstairs, it turns out the front door to my building will not even open with my key once it’s closed, so I keep having to go around the side of the building to the back door. I remind myself to put my shoe or something in the door to keep it open and forget every time. The sunset the night before was beautiful and it has comeback for an encore as the sunrise. A lady in the apartment building across the alley from us comes out on her balcony to watch it.

Boxes I shipped my stuff in from New York, still assembled and stacked into my closet, are pressed into service to carry props down in my trunk. I am proud of them for getting back into circulation. My boys!

At Starbucks, an old guy is PUNISHING an oatmeal and a newspaper. When Starbucks got oatmeal he must have said “Finally!” because he’s always felt all businesses should offer oatmeal. “It’s just common sense,” he would say.

I am driving Dominic and Meggie and myself down in my car and Donald and Dan will join us later. I have purchased one of those iPod cassette tape adapters for the occasion. When I go to put it in there’s already a tape in the tape deck. I eject it. It’s an Animaniacs tape. Seems like a good omen for a week of nerdiness.

The tape adapter comes into play hardcore on the drive down. It seems to make the music play much louder in the right channel, which is a little bothersome but doesn’t keep Meggie or Dominic from falling almost comically asleep, Dominic in the backseat nuzzling an antique television. Traffic routinely fucks then unfucks itself. Flowers that are actually little pieces of white trash bags stuck to dead grass on the side of the road blow and blow as we pass. We are in a seemingly endless progression of LA-adjacent towns and then suddenly there’s lots of fog and we break through it and we are next to the Pacific, passing through seaside communities like San Clemente, which I know best as a sticker on the back of my friend Brian’s champagne-colored van in high school.

Looking at a map the morning before the drive and seeing how close the highway was to the ocean I actually said, “Should be a pretty drive tomorrow,” and with those words, completed my transformation into your father.

The Convention Center is in San Diego’s gleaming urban-renewed downtown, which is almost crazily idyllic and clean. In the lead-up to the Con we were told that there was a rigorous and unyielding system in place for loading your booth into the Convention Center and if we didn’t follow its very specific procedures to a T our stuff would be thrown into the ocean where it would bob depressingly among Threepio dolls and Buffy scripts belonging to other exhibitors who mistakenly thought they could flaunt the rules. We would discover that this is only sort of the case, and that in practice everything was a welcome degree of lax. I have experienced this countless times, where something is built up to you as being rigid and unforgiving and turns out to be a big puppydog in comparison. It feels like when they would describe high school to you in middle school, or when they would describe college to you in high school, and you would arrive at the next institution expecting the advertised No Fucking Around and instead find Plenty Of Fucking Around. I don’t know what this phenomenon is called but I am still waiting to encounter the stage where there is in fact No Fucking Around. Death, maybe?

Inside the Convention Center, it’s enormous. Grown Teamsters tool around on bicycles. Certain days of the Con are advertised towards certain age-groups and fanbases, and Tuesday at Comic Con is popular with fans of scaffolding and Teamsters. Rumor had it that this year Jimmy The Teamster was going to unveil his long-anticipated work, “Ignoring His Foreigner Ringtone While Piloting A Cherry-Picker,” and he came through in a big way, to the delight of all of us Teamsterheads.

Cabs in downtown San Diego have strange names, and each of them is a different color. They are named things like Absolute Cab. Rumi Cab. Kabul Cab. I wonder what this signifies and if cab drivers get to name their own cabs, and if my naming fetish and the promise of getting to name my own cab would be enough to entice me to move to San Diego and start driving a cab. I wonder if the “_____ Cab” structure is hard and fast or if I would be allowed to name my cab Absolutely Cabulous.

In our hotel, there are signs reading SALES CONFERENCE and tons and tons of identical dad-esque white men in shorts and polo shirts streaming in and out of a big ballroom. “Sales Conference” is entirely too generic. There is no way this is not a cover for a pot-bellied “According To Jim”-enjoying Illuminati meeting.

I am the president of saying “Okay, let’s go,” and then hypocritically saying “Wait” and going and grabbing one more thing, like a jacket or my phone charger. It has to be one of my worst qualities, or at the very least a bad one.

Dominic and Meggie and I are down at lunch in the lobby and I run upstairs to charge my phone and when I get up to our floor I realize I don’t really remember what number our rooms are. My phone is dead so I can’t call down and ask. Instead of going downstairs and asking my friends I decide to start randomly trying doors. I have not slept in over a day and have spent all day on the convention floor helping build our booth so I am deliriously tired and this all makes sense. I try one thousand doors. I should just go downstairs but I get into that place where you’re thinking, “I have already invested a lot of time and trying into this, and the next door I try will DEFINITELY be the one.” I finally give up and am headed back to the elevator when a dark-blazered man appears at the other end of the hallway. In the moment I am certain he is a hotel security guard who has seen me on closed-circuit security camera trying every door in the hall with one key. In retrospect I’m not so sure that was the case, but at the time it makes my elevator ride downstairs and walk back to the downstairs hotel sports bar a thrill-ride.

After lunch we return to the floor and finish building the booth. It’s a good little booth when we’re finished. It really is.

That night we have dinner at a restaurant looking out on the ocean where the waiter schtick is on point (after your waiter has finished saying a waiter-joke you can hear a waiter at a few tables over start in to a different, equally waiter-y joke) and then we eat too much ice cream which in the moment is the perfect amount of ice cream and go back to the hotel and fall asleep for ten glorious hours.

Posted by DC at July 29, 2009 01:22 AM

The No Fucking Around stage is called law school. And your first year, there's plenty of fucking around, just not the kind you expect.

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