Milling About of a Midday… Maskless

Dearest Rachel –

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting that Daniel would have a lot of fun here in any event, given the restrictions that they seem to have in their rules and regulations. But so far, that doesn’t seem to have been nearly as bad as we feared. The only real problem he seems to be susceptible to is a bit of sensory overload; this place, after all, is many times larger than any of the pony-related conventions you guys would go to. It’s a lot to take in, even though we haven’t gone to any of the panels yet (not that he’s likely to be allowed into them).

It was kind of funny that by nine o’clock, both of the boys were essentially ready to go, while I was trying to get the last few things of mine together. You would have appreciated the fact that I was the one holding up our departure, when I used to be the one waiting for you (and Daniel, in cases of other trips we would take together).

To be sure, part of the holdup involved the fact that I was eating breakfast while I was waiting for Daniel to wake up in the first place, while neither of the boys bothered with anything until such time as we were underway. However, once we were underway, Logan asked if I could drive us to his parents’ restaurant in order to pick of something for him and Daniel to eat en route to the convention center.

Sure, why not? Where is it?

Northbrook? Uh…

Okay, it’s about a half-hour out of the way, but it’s a fairly fast drive down I-94; it’s basically the two sides of the triangle, rather than taking the hypotenuse that we ordinarily would take. So it’s not all that awful, when you come down to it.

When Logan emerges from the restaurant, he’s toting a bag that makes him look like a cartoon robber emerging from a bank he’s just knocked over. It’s big and lumpy, nearly bursting with provisions.

Even Logan is bemused. “I thought I was only going to get half a dozen of these.” Nope; there’s more than even a baker’s dozen of bagels, plus the separately-prepared ones with schmear on them for each of the boys to enjoy for breakfast.

It’s one of the benefits of having restauranteurs for parents; you’re never going to go hungry. Of course, you’ve grown up with stories like that from your Dad and the lunch counter his parents ran during the Depression, and how he would sometimes long for the peanut-butter sandwiches that his classmates would eat rather than the blue-plate specials that would be served at the drug store every day. The grass is always greener and all that.

Probably just as well that I ate beforehand, though, as I wouldn’t be able to do so while I’m driving. Meanwhile, Daniel helped me through the drive down, as he figured out how to get Google Maps to narrate the way I was to take in order to get to the convention center. It was a little tricky – ‘exit 40A’ sounds way too much like ‘exit 48,’ which was miles away from where I though we needed to get off – but we managed without having to backtrack.

Once past the center, I then managed to get lost trying to find a parking area for the hotel. At least I didn’t have to go far to extricate myself. Of course, we were hours early for check-in time, so we headed to the center after all; Logan wanted to get a new lanyard for his badge. Meanwhile, under the assumption that he wouldn’t be allowed in anywhere, Daniel set himself down by a pillar, while I decided to test my luck.

Understand, I had three or four masks in my pocket, so if I got called out on it, I could easily put one on and sally forth. But I just wanted to see if it really mattered to anyone, so I walked toward the Artists’ Alley, showed my badge – at which point, the Andy Frain usher simply waved me in. I was in the clear!

I promptly texted Daniel about the situation, and that he was free to join me, as I wandered about. While I waited, I checked by a few weeks to see if I could get a commission like the ones I hadn’t been able to obtain at Anime Iowa. The first one seemed willing, and a second one reacted enthusiastically, “oh, Haibane Renmei! I used to watch that with my fiancé – well, my husband, now,” and complimented my taste in anime. I knew I was in good hands with this person. So I gave her a deposit, and told her I would send her pictures of you to use as reference as soon as I got settled into the hotel, and had my computer up and running.

Meanwhile, I begin milling about, and taking in the sights that I hadn’t seen in years:

It was at this point that I realized that I still hadn’t heard from Daniel. Had he gotten the message? Had he and Logan gone off on their own? I left the Alley…

…to find him still sitting patiently, if somewhat morosely by the pillar, waiting for either of us to join him, for… whatever. After pointing out a certain relatively obscure cosplayer to him – but one that he would know – I broke the good news to him, I invited him to follow me into the Artists’ Alley.

As I said earlier, this place is so much bigger than what he’s used to – according to him, as much as fifty times bigger. This was a lot for him to take in. But take it in we did, methodically going through every aisle in the Alley, and then moving on to the Exhibit Hall (which is what they’re calling the dealers’ room these days), where we went down several aisles before running into Logan. He’d been going through the same aisles we had; why we hadn’t run into each other sooner, I’ll never know.

Be that as it may, we were halfway through the place when…

…I got a text saying that our room was ready.

Bet you thought I was going to say we were confronted about our lack of masks. But no! Despite the fact that almost nobody else was walking around barefaced (there was one artist I spotted like this), nobody was making a fuss about it, or even noticing. It was so strange; it makes me wonder why there weren’t others doffing their covering. Maybe to most of us, it’s practically like another accessory, like cosplay or something. Who am I to guess?

Anyway, we’ve been in the room for some time now, and in fact, I should be going to meet the gang at the Hyatt – yes, it’s not for an hour, but it’s a long walk from the Loews to anywhere else, I’m afraid. At least I’m getting in my fair share of exercise; it makes up for my slacking off earlier in the week.

Keep an eye on us, honey, and wish us luck – it’s been good thus far, but we’ll probably still need it.

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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