or, Clan of The Cave Geeks
“Man, that place is sad,” responded a friend when I emailed him a photo from the convention room floor at G.A.M.E. con—and sad it was.
Don't ask me why people do this to themselves— why grown men dress as cartoon dogs or wear wizardly dunce caps or why young women with acceptable or even admirable flesh agree to dress as Slave Leia or Silk Spectre, on any day but Halloween, for the onanistic entertainment of boy-men on the brink of flunking out of Natural Selection 101. I do not know why. If I could eat at Hooters without great embarrassment, I could answer these questions.
And yet, as always, because of some indelible devil’s advocate DNA in me, I found myself respecting the geeks of geekdom anew. OK, not the ones wearing the fuzzy fox tails, and maybe not the Damsels of Dorkington, and, well, maybe respect is not the operative feeling here, but some kind of appreciation feebly rose up...
...appreciation for a sort of social bravery that says it is okay to exist without an iota of cool. Bravery that could indeed be disqualified as such by the likelihood that hormonal deficiencies or degrees of autism have established in these folks either A) total lack of self-awareness, or B) sociopathic behavior that is not anti-social, but quacky-social, drawn to dwell in only the most impractical, imagined realities.
Today this bravery walked up to my Artist Alley table embodied by this earnestly, politely, home-schooled-ly harmless proto-woman dressed up in boy clothes and near-total sexlessness. For the minute she was there, I was merely bemused. Later, I sort of felt this retroactive affection for her—the same feeling I have for Sue Heck on “The Middle.” What a superb dork-girl, in her outdated suit-jacket, jokey buttons, and modest androgyny. Was this one of her normal outfits? For all I know, she was in costume as an alternate-universe Dr. Who. She bought my choose-your-own-adventure comic book for a dollar and seemed pleased with it. I soon re-read said comic with her in mind, hoping that its crude comedy wouldn’t corrupt or disgust her, as she was the sort of pathetic sweetheart that my wife and I frequently "fantasize" (quotes=touch of irony) as our daughter.
Most of the day passed uneventfully. The “con” was scarcely attended. The lovable nerd girl had been one of maybe five people wearing a tag indicating that she was a paying attendee as opposed to a merchant, artist, or other “guest.” Mid-day passed. I bought a barbecue sandwich from a dim, meat-scented alcove and ate it in the Media Room, where two other slobby gents were watching Tron. The twelve or so minutes of Tron I watched were pretty good, maybe because my sandwich was so blasted savory. I kind of regretted spending two bucks on water when pop was also two bucks, but maybe I did the right thing in forsaking pop.
I was falling asleep around 3:00 when my friend Cody arrived with Mrs. Cody, AKA Sam. They provided me a Vivarin-esque boost of conversation. Cody got annoyed when the audio-video tech guy zeroed in on me and said, “Do you have the movie we’re showing at 9?” I indicated Cody, and the AV Guy sort of scolded Cody in advance, saying, “You’ll give it to me on time, right? Because the movie I was supposed to show last night at 9, the guy JUST gave it to me.” Cody told him he’d have it on schedule. The AV Guy retreated but seemed unsatisfied, in his Asperger's-afflicted way.
Cody would be on two panels later, as well as providing the one must-see film on the movie schedule. In the meantime, he was going to see the first panel, with screenwriter, teacher, novelist, etc, Diana Botsford. I had no idea who she was, but decided to go check it out. I found out that she is like an all-around bad-ass who stealthily resides in our meager locale. She’s worked on several Hollywood movies, several TV series, and she’s shipping out to Antarctica in a few weeks to research her next Stargate spin-off novel. Who knew? Around that time, I’m sure to be fixing toilets and raking leaves, so I was wondering why she was giving us the time of day, but she treated even the kid holding the light-bulb-capped wizard’s staff with total respect.
After that, my old landlord and cartoonist-about-town Phil Morrissey showed up. I was quickly being surrounded by characters from my past. The show was being run by Scott Villareal, an all-around nice guy I went to art school with. He’s very dramatic. He half-hugged me in public, which is always a little more than I bargain for.
(part 2 coming soon)