Snippets From the First Night

Dearest Rachel –

I try to limit myself to no more than four letters in any given day to you; however, there are so many little things that happen at a convention that are worthy of comment, and there’s no one to comment to anymore. So I’m just gonna put together a collection of paragraphs observing this and that that occurs to me throughout the evening, just to give you a feel of how things are going. Just to warn you, though; it’s going to seem very disjointed, so bear that in mind.


You probably knew this already, but I really miss having someone to just turn to and snark with when something comes up. At the opening ceremonies, the hosts read off a whole long list of rules (there never used to be this many – do people behave this much worse now than they did before? They have to remind everybody these days not to be racist and hateful – we never had to be told this back in the days when Cardcaptor Will was a fixture at this and that convention. When did we get to the point we needed to be told?), including handling one’s cosplay weapons in such a way that no ‘unfortunate accidents’ happen with them. It got me wondering what a fortunate weapon accident would look like, assuming one were possible.

I’m sure that, between the two of us, we could come up with something, but on my own, I’ve got nothing to speak of.


It turns out that the evening ‘meal,’ so to speak, at the hotel is different from night to night. It certainly saves me money from having to go out for dinner every night, but almost more importantly, it’s more than I had expected from the place, so I don’t feel compelled to eat too much in order to get what I might otherwise think is my ‘money’s worth.’ It’s actually quite an interesting exercise in portion control that I wouldn’t be able to maintain were I eating out each night.

Otherwise, the fare is, quite literally, nothing to write home about.


They aren’t hyping the recharge room, where we used to hang out during downtime between interesting panels. As a result, when I finally determined where it was, and went there, there was almost nobody there. Look, if I want to hang out by myself for any length of time, I can go back to my own hotel room. The only advantage this place has is that I don’t have to hike all that way back, only to repeat the trip when there’s something I imagine to be worth checking out.


Among the peculiar rules laid out for this year are some… less than consistent ones having to do with Covid protocols. Not sure if it’s the convention itself or the hotel, but apparently, elevators are limited to four people. I’ll wager you can guess how well that edict is being followed. Similarly, it’s not always clear where masks are required as opposed to recommended; the board gaming room I almost understand, given that people are in proximity to each other, but the first foray into the Marketplace made no mention of the need for one. However, my second visit had the door guardian strongly recommending I get myself a disposable mask from the convention booth as soon as I was inside. Considering I had my soft drink mug, and intended to fill it a time or two while I was about the place, that wasn’t happening. It basically boils down to who’s manning the door, and how they feel about the rule, I think.


One of the artists I had commissioned specialized in ‘chibi’ portraits, with a cutesy, super-deformed style. Either she’s just that talented and quick with the pen and marker, or the style is just that much more time-efficient, because she texted me that she had completed both commissions by the time the Marketplace closed this evening:

The style is what it is, and it’s well executed – I particularly like the fact that she chose to use more of a winter jacket than a robe for your Haibane persona. It just looks a little weird, given the context; they look like those caricature portraits you might get at a theme park. Which would be fine under other circumstances, but almost seem too light-hearted. If you were still around to appreciate them, I think you would, and we’d be fine with them. But since you aren’t, it doesn’t quite feel right. I can’t explain it any better than that, and the artist did the job I asked her to, and did it well; I can’t fault her for this.


The heat has been absolutely searing up until now, but once the sun goes down, it’s actually more comfortable outside, especially since the Hyatt has gone all Florida on us, and cranked the air conditioning as far as it can go. Cool is good, yes, but there’s a point where it gets too cool, and not because you’re wearing three pairs of Ray-Bans.


The late night panels get less family-friendly as the night wears on. The first such is a game show asking if we really know Japan. This includes questions as to whether a description given belongs to a real game show or not; which of four options describes what’s actually going on in a particular still photo; what happens next in a short film clip; and whether an item being pictured is an adult toy or not. Given these contexts to the main question, I’d have to guess that I apparently don’t know Japan very well at all, but I figure that a competition like this is simply a matter of outrunning a bear; I only have to know more than the three other contestants. For the record, though, I don’t.

The next panel of mild interest involves a roasting of particularly bad – and presumably somewhat salacious – fanfiction. Which, while a subject closer to my heart as a former writer myself, isn’t necessarily enough to keep me here once its scheduled time is moved back two full hours, leaving me with nothing to do for ninety minutes. Somehow, I doubt it’s worth staying up that late – and, while you’d consider the time as nothing, you’d probably be as dismissive of the topic as I am of the time.

With that being said, I find myself wondering if I should even bother staying around, as the only other thing of curiosity (something billed as a ‘burlesque’ show, whatever that might be) is still that same hour and a half away – and already has a line of people waiting to get in. Ultimately, I decide against it, and prepare to leave.

I’m briefly sidetracked by a large group of people playing a game they refer to a ‘werewolf.’ The guy leading the game describes it as being like ‘Mafia,’ but unfiltered. And despite the fact that there are a couple of, I’ll say ten-year-olds (give or take a year or two), the dialog is not what you’d expect to have allowed within their earshot. On the other hand, the seem rather nonchalant; perhaps they’ve heard it all before.


On the other side of the hotel, there is a DJ blasting music, and a crowd gathered on the veranda listening to it all. It’s not as big or as raucous as last year; I suspect it’s because last year, the outdoors was the only place you could go where you could be free of the mask, which was really what everybody wanted; that, and I suppose an adult beverage or two. I didn’t bother to check to see if such were on offer this time, as I could pretty much assume so at this point. Some things don’t change from year to year, only the numbers and the faces.

Now, I know you’d be staying up and out late on an evening like this – I’m pretty sure you’d stick around for that next round of ‘werewolf,’ for instance – but it’s little different when the walk home is as far as it is. At least I know I won’t hear in the morning about all the things I missed out on – which might be an advantage (since I can hear about them without having to be there) or not (since I might feel like I really did miss out on something).


One final note, a little out of order; I got a text from the folks, asking if I still intended to stay here through Monday, since everything is over and done with by five on Sunday evening. At first, I think I’ve made the reservation, and paid for my time, so I probably am stuck with it, but on checking, I find out I can cancel a day if I want to, at no charge. It occurs to me that they might want me home sooner – why else would they even ask this of me? – but no, it turns out they read these letters, and thought I might want to know I have the option.

To be honest, I’m still considering it.

So, with that in mind, wish me a little luck and a little more wisdom; I’m probably going to need both yet. Talk to you in the morning.

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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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