It might be easiest to do a trip report by listing all the stupid things I did during them. That still might leave the transcripts too long.
The first stupid thing was at a Puppeteering 101 panel. Going to it wasn't actually dumb in itself, even though it didn't cover material I hadn't seen at previous conventions a couple times over. What was stupid was I knew that bunny_hugger was coming in on a train still running late. She was going to call when she reached the hotel, and that looked ready to happen sometime during the talk. About forty minutes into the panel there was a strange musical interlude, a little orchestral bit, coming from nowhere in particular; obviously someone's consumer electronics decided to inflict an MP3 on us. But it was soft and only lasted a little bit.
Of course, it was my phone, and bunny_hugger calling to report her arrival. When I got the phone a year ago I picked one of the most obscure ring tones so that I wouldn't be distracted by other people's rings on my new phone. But in the interim I have gotten so few calls I never associated the ring to me, so I fail to respond to it correctly. And of course as my phone was in the little pocket in my messenger bag it was removed enough from me not to trigger any associations by being so nearby.
After the session was over I finally dimly realized what was probably going on, and checked my phone: there was that missed call from bunny_hugger. I called back. She thought I had my phone turned off, which is its typical state of affairs, but would also be courteous in the middle of a panel. But I owned up to having left my phone on and accessible but having forgotten what my ring tone is. At least my stupidity has a thoroughgoing honesty to it.
But while we talked sorting all this out, I figured out where she was from her description in the hotel lobby and started marching up to her, in one of those scenes that would be utterly perfect for the hypothetical romantic comedy that isn't based on criminal or deranged behavior. At least I think that walking up to a person until your phones are redundant is still a pretty neat thing, but then, I've only had a hand phone for a year now.
We got to the hotel desk and got her keys, and took the big glass elevators up to the eighth floor, which was ours. Not the whole floor. She got to unpacking her luggage, and she really unpacks, taking things out of bags and putting them in hotel dressers and the like. And she showed off, briefly --- well, we'll get to that. We were in a rush, hoping to get her to registration in time for the next puppet-track event, which according to my watch was just a few minutes away. We rushed downstairs. There clearly wasn't time to go to con registration, so I put forth the suggestion that if we strode purposefully to the auditorium no one would question her belonging there. And after all, she had registered; she only needed to pick up her badge. In the press of time bunny_hugger accepted this reasoning.
And so we found the next of my stupidities.
I hadn't changed my watch back from Daylight Saving Time. I have a habit of this, seeing how long I can keep the mental conversion going before it drives me crazy and I adjust various clocks to the correct time. For some it's instantaneous: my bedside alarm clock, for instance. For some I might never get around to it: my car dashboard clock. My watch I hadn't yet set back, but I was doing well making the mental adjustment, OK, if it says it's 3:50 it's really 2:50.
Except of course, I live in New Jersey, and whatever else you might say about the state, it's in the Eastern time zone. So is (nearly all of) Michigan. But Chicago, well, that's an exception to this commonality of time, isn't it? So while I thought we were desperately rushed for the event we wanted, we were actually just a bit early to the prior event, Meet The Guests Of Honor.
This isn't to say we didn't want to meet the guests of honor, although we actually had no idea who they were. It was nice to know just who was being honored, and if the attendance was light and the questions-and-answers suggested that maybe nobody was precisely sure who was there, the event was livened up by a guy in fox costume crashing the stage and making the last quarter of the event his own. And it happens the artist guest of honor was someone I did know, at last by posted artwork --- Vantid --- so I was, well, stumped to think of anything to say. I suppose I could have said, ``I like your artwork'', but that's not really a question unless I want to challenge my own sincerity.
Following the correct puppeteering event and my apologizing over getting the time wrong --- something, I note, bunny_hugger took in good grace without seeing as being nearly as weird as it is --- we looked to the registration line. It wasn't a very long line, which means that it had no choice but to stall out entirely as some server implosion happened. I'm not clear on the details but it was certain that credit cards weren't being accepted, slowing the progress of people in line ahead of us, even though it would seem like picking up the stuff for a pre-registered person shouldn't be nearly so difficult.
We stayed in pretty good spirits about this since it really wasn't that long a line and we were feeling pretty giddy about being together. And when I leapt across the rope dividers to another file which had no people and no apparent objective, and the registration people started taking those who didn't need to pay by credit cards --- allowing bunny_hugger to progress to picking up her con package --- I had a new running joke. ``I think it was my standing in the other line which did it.'' Neither bunny_hugger nor skylerbunny expressed nearly the correct level of exasperation at my using this line for all sorts of trivial and unrelated actions.
We did need to eat and thought the easiest place to eat would be one of the hotel restaurants. The sports/television bar offered several known vegetarian options, but the restaurant seemed to offer quieter dining and we'd had a decent experience with it for the morning buffet. With barberio alongside us we went for a pleasant and relaxed dinner.
The restaurant, evening division, would not be characterized as ``vegetarian-hostile'', if by that term you mean that if you try to order a vegetarian meal they come out and savagely beat you. But it's not a lot friendlier than that. The vegetarian options really were a spaghetti dish or something in the salads. (And even the salads might have secret stuff lurking in them: I had a Caesar's salad, and bunny_hugger pointed out the better restaurants, as this strove to be, include some creamed version of an unappetizing fish in the sauce. I didn't know that, but I didn't specify anything to the server because that seemed far too fussy even as I tried to eat vegetarian.)
We'd be in trouble trying to eat meat-free the whole weekend, although the sports bar would offer an alternative including such reliable standbys as pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches. But when the manager did wander around asking if all was well, skylerbunny did take the chance to explain that there just weren't vegetarian options. The manager said they understood there were people concerned about where their protein came from and ... um ... it was kind of a weird answer which gave every indication that the idea of vegetarian eating had never crossed the manager's mind before. Apparently, while we barely suspected it, we were eating in 1928.
Past dinner was the time of the first fursuit dance and the debut of what bunny_hugger had guarded with modest jealousy and a real bursting of pride. That would be her new bunny_hugger head, a wonderfully constructed face that goes nicely with her paw and tail costume elements. While she had worn it for fitting and for practice at home, this would be the public debut, and ...
Well, there were some minor issues. The important one is that the head positioned the rabbit eyes reasonably realistically, mostly to the side, relying on peripheral vision. The problem is that bunny_hugger's eyes had recently been irritated by her contact lenses and her eye doctor had issued orders that she not wear contacts and do let her eyes rest for several weeks in the hopes of letting them recover. While her eyeglasses fit within the costume head, they would give her the barest shreds of clear vision since eyeglasses are not ordinarily designed with peripheral vision in mind. Worse, the disturbing of the airflow inside the head caused by the glasses made the eyes fog up. And there was not much to be done about that: the particular parts of the eyes fogging up were in a spot that could not be accessed and could not be wiped clean or treated so as to resist the fogging.
She had asked me much earlier if I'd be her handler, guiding her through the hotel universe under the limited lines of sight. I was glad to do that. But she was going to be much blinder than anticipated. And this is worth pointing out: I'd never handled anyone in costume before, so had only a rough idea what to do.
Mostly, I over-managed: holding bunny_hugger's arm --- admittedly not something I have a hard time resisting doing --- but also explaining what was right in front of her almost continuously. This might have been useful in getting her bearings, although it meant I was providing much more noise than signal, and desperately over-steering her.
Though we feared we were running late, and thus missing parts of the dance, what we overlooked was that of course the dance had got started late, because dances always get started late. As best I could make out it started about a half-hour late so that we were actually roughly in synch. And so we were able to find a spot reasonably open in the midst of the floor, with enough space around bunny_hugger that either skylerbunny or I would see anyone threatening to smash into her well in advance, and we took to dancing.
Well, bunny_hugger danced. I just sort of swayed around, trusting that for one, it was way too dark for anyone to actually see; for another, since about 1963 there haven't been actual dance step except for the occasional novelty act like the Macarena or the Time Warp, so that all you have to do is move and you'll pass. I started using moves that were actually adapted from Dance Dance Revolution, which bunny_hugger later advised me was not a good idea. Well, maybe not.
When bunny_hugger felt she'd had enough --- those suits are incredibly hot, kind of like dressing in a parka and setting your shirt on fire --- I resumed over-handling her in guiding her back out. This prompted one of the people watching over the fursuiters to come up to me asking if she was OK, dehydration and heat stroke being real dangers and my method of holding her and guiding her closely looked much like getting someone out ahead of heat stroke. So that was another of the dumb things I'd done that day.
Another dumb thing came when we got back to our floor and near the room. The layout of the hotel floors is basically the perimeter of a square, with diagonal offshoots at each corner which lead to circles, and our room was on one of those circles. As we approached the point where the diagonal gave way to the circle, I said to turn ``counterclockwise'', my thinking --- correctly --- being based on the direction a watch hand would move if it shared an axis with the center of the circle, and you were looking at the circle from above. bunny_hugger and skylerbunny saw the directions as going the other way, and we would debate this point all weekend without their seeing the error of their ways. Probably I should have said ``left'', but I wanted to convey that we were entering the circular part of the hallway and simply saying ``left'' would not express that.
bunny_hugger would point out she hadn't memorized the hall layout and didn't know there was a circular section or that we were approaching it. She also continued to disagree about the clockwise/counterclockwise guidance.
I stand by my ``counterclockwise'' decision even if it didn't work.
Trivia: The building of Rockefeller Center required 25,000 metal doors ordered from Jamestown, New York. Source: Great Fortune: The Epic Of Rockefeller Center, Daniel Okrent.
Currently Reading: England In The Later Middle Ages, M H Keen.