Day One (Thursday): Setup and knife-fights ensue. The floor closes late on Thursday because it opens late. That means dinner’s late. That means I’m running on empty when we start drinking, and the booze terror creeps up deceptively quickly. By nine, one hour after the floor closes, I’ve had five beers. By 11, I’m in the Carlile. None of the group wants to shoot Jaeger, the weens. Settling for kamikazes, the goon squad moves downstairs.
The DJ plays an absurd breakbeat Journey remix. I’m all blown up.
Girls. Birthday girls. I’m singing to them and Jim climbs the rail to sing backup. We cajole them from their seats and drag them up to the front stage. Encouraged by our boldness, the rest of the club hits the floor. One of these girls is huge, sandwiched between Jim and myself. Much trading of dance partners occurs. Much drinking of drinks occurs. I give the wrong girl a birthday drink. I’ve had too much. Time to go. Britney Spears. Okay, we’ll stay for one more song.
“Get out. We’re closed.”
Chad says, “See those cops? Go fight them.” In retrospect, that’s probably not what he said. He probably said, “Settle down or those cops will truncheon your head.” Same result. I’m off down the street, intent on fighting with the cops. Luckily, the cops have trapped a homeless man with what appears to be a two-liter beverage bottle that has strange chunks floating in it. Grue? Deuce bits? God only knows. In any event, Phil, Alan, Chad, Fred and Jim manage to subdue me before cop Armageddon rains down on from above.
In the hotel room, we obviously need more drinks. PBR in hand, I grapevine Jim’s leg, leaning on it in an attempt to blow his patella from its fleshly moorings. “Would somebody get him off me?” Someone does, and I carom off the couch. Swerving over toward the dining-room table (we have a suite), I collapse on it. Jim dashes over to prevent the table from falling. Murderous rage. I swing the half-full can at his head, making sure to crunch it a little bit so that it has an edge. Payday. I’m booted into the other room, where I pass out on the bed.
Jim’s got beer in his eye. Can’t see. Hand to face, rubbing beer away. Blood on hand. “Hey, Justin, you’re bleeding. Are you okay?” No, Jim, you’re bleeding. I’m merely an unconscious jerk who lacerates his friends’ faces. I’m told that I was pulled away before delivering a second strike.
(They tape Jim’s head up with band-aids. Fred and Jim mosey on over to another bar. Fred gets them lost. Jim has to pee. Trash can. “I can hear your pee hitting the back of the garbage can.”)
Day Two (Friday): I’m all assnecks and elbows, but a 55-gallon drum of Alka-Seltzer’s day-after remedy sets me marginally straight. Fred attempts to stab my head. Cannibal Chad creeps in from beyond the periphery of vision with a kukri. It’s great to bring weapons to a convention, especially when you have them out on the table for customers to handle. It never hurts to have extra fingerprints on a knife. The show passes.
Dinner at Martini’s, which Phil semi-skips due to a prior commitment to the Darwin Project. As it turns out, Chloe has been stung by some nefarious but unidentified insect. Her leg is inflamed and her foot is purple. She’s on crutches. On crutches until she returns to France. What a suck first visit to the US.
Beaten, I retire to the hotel. But tonight’s the GoO party!
(Last year at the GoO party, I grabbed girls from the crowd and pulled them onstage to dance. What can I say? It’s my MO. Two of them ended up making out on the floor, where I plied the Sapphic sweeties with shots (because they obviously needed more booze). “I have brought the drunken sluts… and they have gone wild.”)
I confess. Too ruined for the party. In returning to scrounge unconscious Chad back to the club, I give in to fatigue. Kickboxing is on television.
Day Three (Saturday): Good thing I cashed in early, because I have a video interview at 9:30 in the morning. It goes well. Phythyon’s impressed with Terry. “You got Justin for a 9:30 interview on a Saturday morning?” Little did he know that I had destroyed myself the night before.
Show organization is a mess. We have a panel scheduled for two. The panel isn’t listed in the convention guide. Neither is the panel listed in the daily convention guide addendum. We’re at two in the Union room, which we write on a dry-erase board at the booth and have to evangelize by word of mouth. Two o’clock at the union room — and the room is full of dudes for another panel. Phil improvises and we take the Delaware. As it turns out, we were indeed supposed to have Union and those other motherfuckers took it. I go back after the panel an accidentally spill coffee inside their little 3D models. Twice.
Dinner is hella good, which we enjoy with Esdevium. They feel good about numbers, which really takes a lot off my mind. Dinner is a double-cut filet mignon, cooked blue — heaven! Alex and I share some Old Overholt, which you should know about if you don’t already.
We have a party in 15 minutes. I dash back to the room to throw all my stuff in my bag and hide my bag in the other room. Chris kicks open the door and the party starts slowly but ramps up quickly. The suite borders on a triangular bit of roof. It’s not a balcony — one literally must climb out the window to stand on the roof-jetty.
One does. One throws rocks at the streetlights below. The roof-jetty also overlooks the skywalk from above, so with careful aim, one can spook people walking through the skywalk by throwing rocks at the glass. There’s no rail on the “balcony.” A dude falls, less than a foot from the edge of the building. Oh, well. Better be more careful.
Inside, the Crowenbrau happens. A bottle of HPNOTIQ appears and is consumed. A pirate who “smells like pastrami” arrives. Hite shows up. Mearls shows up. Hite has WotC Claire in tow. I persist in calling Claire Claudia for reasons unknown (inebriation). She takes it in stride.
As it turns out, there’s a wedding scheduled in the hotel. Earlier, I witnessed one of the bridesmaids making out with some guy. They were in the lobby, where a “room display” had been set up and a bed occupied the central foyer area. I would make a comment about their lack of class, but I spent Thursday night smashing cans into my friends’ faces and attempting to brawl with police.
I visit the wedding, where I procure a cocktail table and dash away with it. Turns out I forgot the leg extensions. Back down to the wedding. Phil: “That’s not a cocktail table. That’s a patio table.” I know what he means. I throw the table out the window onto the roof and try to set it up. “Try to set it up” means I take off the tablecloth, drape it over my head and pretend I’m a ghost. “He’s going to fall.” Fred lures me back inside with promises of shots. I don’t even want shots at this point, but the smell of death is so strong in the air, I follow.
Phil goes to pee. The shower stall in the bathroom has the curtain pulled across it. Phil gives it no notice. As he turns the light on, a desperate, gnarled claw clutching a can of Sapporo emerges from behind the curtain. As it turns out, Chad has passed out, taking refuge in the bathtub.
Poker breaks out, followed by 21. I want to play for money but no one else does. Cowards. “Elf money” is suggested instead. (By later accounts, I am between one-half and three-quarters of a million “elf dollars” in debt as the night concludes.) On particularly foolish bet involved a camel clutch. If I won, I would not receive a camel clutch. If I lose, I suffer the ignominy of the camel clutch. Makes sense to me. I spend the hand in the bathroom. When I emerge, I’m told that I have lost. (Will later confided that no one had even looked at my cards, and the table just went ahead and agreed that I had lost the hand.)
Camel clutch! The shame of it.
Jim provides a demonstration. Claire administers the actual clutch de camel. Mearls works as referee. I tap out. (See photos.)
Security arrives. Security is ignored. Security comes again. Security is not ignored. People gambol off into the night. I threaten to walk Matt home. Matt declines my courtesy. (I later learn that Matt removed his contacts that night and placed them in his roommate’s lens receptacle. Where did the roommate’s lenses go? Down the drain.)
A cursory effort is made to clean the room, which ends with me attempting to club Phil over the head with a bag of pretzels. The success of the effort remains unsubstantiated.
Day Four (Sunday): The booth is brutal. Me to Claire: “I’d like to apologize for misspeaking your name, wearing your shirt, and generally being a drunken ass.” Claire to me: “I’d like to get into a bar fight at GenCon.” Me to self: “I think I love this woman.”
Show closes. Booth — dismantled. Dinner runs late; we rush to the airport. There’s a stopover in Cincinnati on the way back to Atlanta. At Cincinnati, we find the Atlanta leg of the flight delayed. Delayed an hour. An hour and-a-half. Two hours.
I finally make it home at 2:30.
I left a shirt behind. Everything else seems intact.