Stephanie (collacentaur) wrote,

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Arisia 2011: Part One

My vacation started Friday morning, but I didn't get to sleep in. I hadn't finished packing – okay, I hadn't really even started packing. I did take it easy, though, and finished up on schedule right around noon. Then I ran some errands, and headed off on the first adventure.

oidhche had been at a professional conference in Baltimore for several days, and he was taking the train back. I was to pick him up in Newark around 1:30. The directions seemed fairly straightforward, and indeed they got me to the station just as anticipated. Except I hadn't figured out where to park. So I drove around a couple blocks of Newark at random, trying not to get too far away. I made it back to the expensive valet lot right by the station entrance, and decided that would be good enough. Of course, I hadn't planned for valet, so I left my lunch and my book in the car.

By 2:00, we were on the road and headed for Boston. We were hoping by some miracle to arrive in time to get to a 6:30 panel. While it was theoretically possible, such was not to be. Connecticut delayed us enough that it was unlikely. On the Mass Pike, we waved goodbye to 495, where we would have turned north to visit parents. Then the traffic slowed to a crawl. And stayed that way, all the way to the end. We finally made it into the hotel at 8:00. We went to one of the hotel restaurants for dinner. The wait was nearly an hour. However, it was one of the best meals I've had at a hotel. I would have liked to eat there again, but I ate most of my meals alone over the weekend.

After eating, we went back through the lobby, where I found people I knew. Oid disappeared off to a panel I'd suggested to him, The Future of School. I wandered around the hotel with radiofreerlyeh and Paul, who were waiting up for RFR's wife to arrive. Once she got there, I went back up to the room to sleep.

Sleep I did. I meant to be up promptly, so as not to miss a thing. Instead I missed morning entirely, emerging in the early afternoon to seek out food. Then I went shopping. Some cons have a dealers' room. Others have a dealers' row, a floor of hotel rooms which the vendors set up as their shops. This year, Arisia had both. The dealers' room and art show was on the first floor, and the dealers' row was on the sixteenth floor along with the con suite and some party rooms. Downstairs I picked up a really cute penguin t-shirt, and upstairs I found a couple of books I'd been looking for. Then I settled in the lobby with my new toy (a Kindle I had just received on Tuesday) and alternated reading and people-watching for a couple of hours.

At 3:30, I went to a panel on Alternative Activism. That's activism for alternative lifestyles, not alternative forms of activism, but really most of what they discussed would apply to any sort of cause. The panel was excellent, and they really got me fired up. I haven't been the get-in-your-face-shove-it-down-your-throat sort of activist since junior high. My style is more quiet advocacy: educating people who are willing to listen, and being polite but refusing to pretend to agree with what I oppose. I believe that social change requires patience and a long-term view. Change takes time, and cultural changes like reversing ingrained prejudice take generations. That's not how it should be, but it's how it is. So if I change minds one at a time, by persuasive argument or just by the way I live my life, it's not exciting, but it is changing the world. But there is more I could be doing, even within this philosophy. I know some of the things I want to do. I just lack motivation most of the time. The panel was a motivating force. I'm hoping to hang onto that long enough to actually DO something.

Then at 6:30 I went to the Flirt Like A Pro panel. (Who gets paid to flirt? Salespeople of all sorts, offhand.) This was a slightly different mix of people than I've seen in the past, so the anecdotes were also different. One of the guys had a very... analytical approach. It was interesting, although I'm not sure how helpful anyone found it. There were some decent audience questions this time. And why do I keep going when I've seen it before and I'm not really learning anything new? Honestly, I'm a little afraid that if I don't show up, I'll end up being one of the bad examples. At least if I'm going, I'm demonstrating the desire to improve.

I grabbed something to eat, then a little after nine I went upstairs to the Philcon party. They were running a little late (which I should have expected from Philcon) and hadn't opened the door when I went past. The first three times. Eventually, when I followed someone else with a more relaxed sense of timing, I found them open. I planned to spend most of the night there. Although I'm not much for parties in general, and especially not over-crowded hotel rooms full of strangers, I do know how it works. These room parties are a significant part of the promotions for future events. And the party-hoppers look in rooms, and only bother going in if they know people or if it's sufficiently crowded to look like a good party. Well, I don't know people, but I am a warm body. And for Philcon, I'm decidedly on the young side. So I figured I could shill for them.

This is where things get weird. I will substitute arbitrary letters for the names of the individuals involved, to protect both the innocent and the obviously not-so-innocent. I'd been there at least an hour, and had relaxed enough to be enjoying myself. I was talking to friends, who I'll call Z and Y. J, who I'd met earlier in the day, came in, clearly drunk. "So, you know my boyfriend (M) had a birthday recently. We want to have an orgy to celebrate. Z, you could come take pictures! Y, we really want you to join us."

"I promised someone I would be good," Y demurred.

"Oh, darling, I'm sure you'd be very good," I chimed in. Yes, I know I wasn't helping, but that's one of those lines I'm entirely incapable of resisting.

After a few more exchanges, J went away. A few minutes later, M came in to try a more direct method of persuasion on Y. I was sitting at Y and Z's feet, and I backed up in a hurry. I've seen M kiss Y before, and I wanted to get out of the way... and get a better view. Hey, if no one's kissing me, I should at least get to watch pretty people kissing each other, right? I still got stepped on three times before I could get up.

So Y explained that she was tired and was planning to go to bed. To SLEEP. And M went away. And we all looked at each other and laughed. We thought it was over. But, like all comedy sketches, there had to be a third round. Back came J and M, with K and L, their intended partners in debauchery. They barely got started on their pitch when Y made her retreat back to her own hotel room, and Z walked with her.

Rather than leaving, the hopeful orgy stayed put to do their planning. Apparently they hadn't yet determined a location and were trying to sort out some roommate issues. They also started texting other people they knew, still hoping to get a few more participants. Thanks to the alcohol, all of this was both loud and obvious, and got them absolutely nowhere. Finally, they moved on, destination still unknown.

I was very amused by the whole process. As they were leaving, I commented, "Aw, you're taking my entertainment away."

"Well, you could come with us," M said. He looked down, then up. With more enthusiasm, "Yeah! You could come with us!"

I know it was the alcohol talking, but it's still flattering to be checked out by a good-looking guy. And I can no longer say that I've never been invited to an orgy. However, I declined. M was the only one I'd even met before that afternoon, and I still don't even know the names of K and L. It wouldn't have been a good idea for so many reasons, but the one I chose was "I think I'm a little too shy for that."

While I was amused, Gary, the con-chair and host of the party, was decidedly not amused. In retrospect, I think I may actually have missed a signal from him to try and get them out. Although I was there to be a shill, I wasn't thinking in terms of working the party. However, if I'd thought about it, I would have realized that of course the whole thing was highly inappropriate on a number of levels, but largely because it was taking over the Philcon party. And Philcon is supposed to be a family-friendly show. While I disparage my social skills regularly, I am in fact good enough at managing people (especially drunk people, who are notoriously easy to manipulate with underhanded tactics like logic) that I could have moved them on and made them think it was their own idea. So I feel badly that I didn't catch on. I heard all about Gary's opinions on the matter at intervals over the following day and a half.

Anyway, after that, just about anything would have seemed ordinary. I stayed until the end, and helped with the cleanup before heading back to my own room. There I found an exhausted Oidhche, who had discovered that morning that cons have theater tech, and volunteered to help. And that was pretty much all I saw of him until time to leave on Monday.

More to follow!
Tags: cons

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