by Randy Byers
L.A.Con III got off to a start when Tami and I went to check the message board located in the Marriott. Tami had to take a whizz, and as soon as she disappeared, the line for the Ice Cream Social materialized between me and the Women's Room. It was really more of a crowd than a line, and I didn't see Tami for the rest of the evening. Instead, I drank T n' T's in the Hilton bar, feeling lonely and unloved.
The next day, back at the message board, a woman shyly admired Tami's tattoos.
"Do you know where the ABS party is tonight?" she asked us, with just a trace of fear.
We both pretended we knew what she was talking about. In the context of the tattoo admiration, that B had to stand for something like Bondage or Branding.
"No, we haven't heard anything," we told her.
She looked disappointed.
"What's the ABS?" I asked Tami later.
"I don't know. The Association of Sadistic Bottoms?"
"That can't be right," I said, not sure why.
Hooper didn't know either, when he got me sercon that evening. He thought it might have something to do with Butt-fucking.
"Oh, god," I said. "Isn't it the Association of Book Sellers or American Book Sellers, or something like that?"
"That's it," he said.
Disillusioned, we left my room, only to see Robert Lichtman, Steve Stiles, Paul Williams, Cindy Lee Berryhill, Frank Lunney, and Christina Lake disappear around a corner down the hall. We followed, but they kept turning corners just ahead of us.
"Guys? Guys!" Hooper called, with just the right note of the plaintive. "You can't ignore me! I'm a BNF!"
By this time I'd forgotten that I was lonely and unloved.
Saturday evening, Tami and I joined Robert, Paul, Cindy Lee, Art Widner, and Moshe Feder on an expedition to a sushi restaurant. Robert pumped me for information on how the Apparatchik team works.
"I don't know," I confessed. "They work in darkness and mystery, with only the occasional sound of shotgun blasts."
He looked me askance.
"Well, okay, the frequent sound of shotgun blasts."
Cindy Lee was trying to come up with a name for her newsletter. She had fastened on the word "glebe" and wanted to know what it meant. None of us knew. Moshe thought it was a bird, but he was shouted down: "That's 'grebe'!" This led Art off into a questionable Chinese joke or two.
Art was intent on introducing me to green tea ice cream, but we had to hurry back to the con to catch the production of Hooper's radio play, "Fanotchka," in which both Paul and Cindy Lee had parts.
On the way back, Moshe and I gazed at the lights of Anaheim stadium, where the Yankees had been trounced the night before. I accused him of being a stinking Yankees fan, and he berated me for my allegiance to the Mariners. We spoke affectionately of baseball after that.
I parked myself in the smoking room of the Tor party that night and spoke to Art about Frankenstein, to Kathryn Cramer about the Web, and to Paul about his bike accident, the Sturgeon project, and the mythological importance of lead singers. The beer selection at the Tor party was second only to that of the Fan Lounge in quality.
Then there was that interesting semi-prozine editor who had spent three years in prison for dealing acid but who assured Art and me at great length that, pace Clinton, he'd never taken any of the stuff. Cindy Lee and John Skipp took turns playing their own songs, which were accompanied by Skipp (when he wasn't playing) and Tami on found percussion, Lenny Bailes on harmonica, and Bob Brown and Kathryn on background vocals. After David Hartwell led the traditional 3:00 a.m. rendition of "Teen Angel," the sing-along revved into full gear, highlighted by Skipp's eccentric choice of "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" and the fortunate abortion of someone's attempt to break out into the lyrics of the Gilligan's Island theme song sung to the tune of "Stairway to Heaven,"
The highlight of the panels I attended came the next day was when David Brin crashed the "Gender Roles: What Makes a Tiptree Award Winner" session to ask why his Glory Season had not won the award and whether it was true that the Tiptree mafia had said nasty and despicable things about him behind his back. Spike, the moderator, told me that he later apologized to her, although only after he followed her to the bar, venting the whole way.
Tami and I went to the Hugos. I don't believe I'd ever seen Hooper in a suit before.
The rest of the evening was spent in the Fan Lounge, where Spike entertained us with stories of her childhood days. She would derail the efforts of boys to play house with her by telling them, "Okay, you're the wife and I'm the husband."
Before the shouting was over on Monday, I got the chance to return Hooper's gift of sercon. Still reeling from the sight of the snuffed ninth-inning rally in the Mariners' loss on TV, he gave me a bunch of fanzines. Included were issues 2 and 3 of an LA zine called Delineator, from the mid-80's.
"There's lots of pictures," he told me. "Fans, pros--a lot of media types."
The cover of #2 features a drawing of the upper half of a naked woman with nipples the size of your thumbs. She's wearing a jeweled collar. A sword blade hovers at her throat, and another at her belly.
The cover of #3 features a black-and-white photo of a man bearing a woman in his arms. She's challenging the camera with her eyes; he's looking down. They are dressed in ornate and revealing leather-and-metal gear. (Mongol Warlord and Scythian Barbarian Mercenary, respectively, according to the credits.) She clutches the hilt of a sheathed dagger in the jeweled fingers of one fist.
"These guys were into the fetish scene ten years before it became generally popular," Hooper said, his eyes gleaming with enthusiasm.
I showed them to Tami later.
"Look at the nipples on that one!" I said.
She didn't seem impressed.
On the return trip, after stops in San Diego, Fresno, and the Bay Area (thanks again, Spike and Tom!), we made an unintended stop in Grants Pass, Oregon.
"My car broke down, and we need a room," I explained to the woman at The Golden Inn motel.
"I hear that all the time," she replied.
Tami and I visited an old friend of mine in Grants Pass. Her new housemate told us about a friend who lives in the nearby town of Wolf Creek, whence I'd called the tow truck the night before. Her friend is a 38-year-old man who likes to dress in drag.
"He's okay in Wolf Creek, because they know him there," she told us. "But he came to Grants Pass in drag once and got the shit beat out of him. So, now he carries a gun.
"I hate this fucking town."
We stayed there for three-and-a-half days, while first the clutch and then the transmission were replaced.
The first day was an adventure.
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