Tuesday, April 20, 2010

How Honor Created a Story Moment

Part of the reason I'm a feminist - a big part, I think - is that honor is incredibly important to me, even though it's typically a "masculine" virtue. If I say that I'm going to do something, I am perhaps even a little asinine about making sure that I follow through.

(And this is what I'm writing about today because last night at like nine I realized that I couldn't remember whether or not I'd reserved the auditorium for today's school portraits, and there was no way for me to find out. I was so stressed about it that it took me ages to fall asleep and now I'm stressed AND TIRED. Ugh.) [ETA: yes, I had reserved the auditorium!]

That may also be why Romeo and Juliet is still the Shakespeare play I like the best, even though everybody says it's the weakest of the major tragedies. I think it's less about romance or revenge than it is about honor. But that's probably a topic for another post. *grin*

ANYWAY, none of that is the point. The point is in a story behind the 'Continue' link. It may not be any good, but I'm practicin! :D

This happened at a convention that I go to every year. As in, I already have my substitute lined up for NEXT YEAR. It's a quite-popular entertainment convention geared at nerds. Anything that's both fun and nerdy probably makes an appearance: board games, video games, RPGs, comic books, costuming, blogging vs podcasting, space exploration, paranormal research, archaic armor and weaponry, book-vs-movie debates, goth rock, techno, folk music, filking, anime marathons... and there's quite a bit more beyond what I can come up with off the top of my head.

(And in case it wasn't obvious, yes, both Star Wars and Star Trek have a HUGE following at the con.)

But it's also quite expensive. So that year I had connected with one of my online buddies & some friends & we were all crashing together. That meant we had to share keys, though, and that was a challenge. Cell service there is REALLY spotty, particularly when you're in the basement levels of any of the hotels.

It was late, and I had a workshop I wanted to attend in the morning. I went to look for my friend, because I had something of hers. The last I had seen her, she'd been at the drum circle.

Drum circle is just what it sounds like - people bring drums, sit in a circle, and play together. They're hand drums, but it still gets a bit rowdy. Lots of fun, & always one of my favorite parts of a con.

So anyway, I went to the room that drum circle was slated to be in, but I didn't see her. Didn't mean she wasn't there, though; it was dark and people were coming and going and sitting around talking at the edges... there may've been another door. So I figured I'd sit down and see if I saw her in a little bit. Where to sit? Well, that's easy.

Find the hottest guy in the room, and sit beside him.

We talked for a little while - what did you come here to do, hotel rates are outrageous, cell service sucks, that kind of thing. And then the girl on the other side of him (like I was the only one who'd noticed? Psheah.) got up to go somewhere, and she handed him her drum to hold for her.

Now, good drums are NOT cheap. My immediate conclusion? He's her boyfriend. You know, kind of like "hey, this is a cute dress, hold my purse while I go try it on." Only not nearly as demeaning, because drums are MANLY.

And see, I have this thing about not messing with established relationships. So there was no way the not-yet-flirting was going to escalate any further. It figured that the hottest guy in the room was already taken.

Except that when I asked him how long he'd known her, he said, "Her? I have no idea who she is. I'm just holding her drum."


Well, I was not about to let THAT revelation go to waste. So not long after whoever-it-was got back and got her drum back, I took Mr. Hotness by the elbow and told him he was going to help me find my friend. We wandered the con for a few hours - I don't remember whether we found her or not - and finally he walked me back to my hotel room. (This wasn't a meaningless gesture, either; I couldn't afford to stay at one of the main hotels, even with roomies, so it was several blocks through downtown Atlanta at like three AM.)

It wasn't until I was crawling under the covers that I realized I hadn't given him my cell number (he didn't have a cell with him). And there's not much chance of finding one person in thirty or forty thousand. Well, stink. There are other good-lookers here, but he was fun, too, I remember thinking as I drifted off.

The next day I went to the dealer room, where people set up booths to sell all kinds of things - books and T-shirts and games and costumes and figurines and sparkly, sparkly dice - and GUESS WHO I SAW COMING OUT! (I bet you can also guess what the first thing we did was.)

We spent much of the rest of the weekend together. It was so liberating, because there were no questions about what would happen next or how to navigate the "relationship." There wouldn't be any decline or breakup, because there wasn't really a relationship in the first place. So it didn't matter if I did or said something idiotic - by the time we saw each other next con, it wouldn't be painful to remember.

The last night of the con, we made arrangements to grab lunch together after checkout. I had a flight to catch early-afternoon, and I knew it'd take a bit to get to the airport, so we agreed to meet up at the hotel cafeteria at 11:30. "If I'm not here by noon," I said, "it means I'm not coming."

"But you'll be here, right?" he asked.

"Sure!" I said.

And of course, the next morning, I completely overslept. And then everything always takes longer when you're in a rush. By the time we checked out, it was already 11:40. My roomies said they'd take my stuff to the car. I grabbed my cell phone so they could call me when they needed to pick me up at the curb, and I ran out the door.

(Of course, my hotel was downhill from the rest of the con.)

So I'm running uphill, dodging foot traffic and traffic-traffic (well, I did wait for the crosswalk on the REALLY busy roads) and just HATING on myself. I hate being someone who doesn't follow through. I hate being a someone who breaks her word, even if it wasn't, like, an Official Promise.

Once I got past the front desk at the hotel, foot traffic was a good bit lighter (because everyone was checking out) and I pulled out my cell phone as I took the up escalator two steps at a time. 12:04.

There's no way he's still there. There's NO way he's still there. I reached the top of the escalator and looked over at the cafe. I tried to remind myself that it didn't matter, that we'd see each other next year either way, but when I didn't see him, I just felt awful. I hadn't just let him down - I'd let myself down, too.

None of that changed when he stood up and waved at me, but somehow I felt a whole lot better! Maybe it was because I got to go over and apologize profusely? I'm still not sure. We didn't get to have lunch (I had to pretty much head right out to the car) but we did exchange email addresses and promise to stay in touch. And we said we'd see each other at con the next year.

Which we did - but that's a whole 'nother story.

I think it makes for a good tale, even poorly told. *sigh*

Image thanks to http://www.flickr.com/photos/rogersmith


Heather said...

haha! How sweet! I love stories like this. :)

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