This year, my birthday fell on the last day of the Con, and so the day was more about saying good-bye, resting up, and winding down than it was about balls out partyin’ and celebratin’. I did plenty of playing and partying the days before, so that was fine. Besides, it would have been IMPOSSIBLE to top the surprise and awesomeness of last year, so I’m glad nobody tried it.
Good times. Great times. And like I said it would be, it was great to see many of my friends again - to speak with them, drink with them, play with them, people-watch with them. I did miss a few friends this time, for a variety of reasons: Alan, Jen, Shoemaker, others. And I don’t think I spent enough time with Joe or Chris. But I met new friends, who will likely become good friends and/or great acquaintances in the future.
I have to make a complaint though: this year was different than previous years, and I know why, even if I don’t fully comprehend yet the exact ramifications of the “why”.
To quote/paraphrase Henry Jones, Sr., Roger Mutaugh, and John McClane: “I’m getting too old for this shit.”
OK. Not really. I’ll bet money that I am one of the youngest 40-year-olds you’ll ever meet, and the zaniness, cacophony, noise, and fervor of Dragon*Con suits me just fine. For me, relaxing is going to a bar, downing a few, and shooting the shit with good friends. It’s going to Six Flags and riding Goliath 10 times. It’s running a 5K, then splitting a six-pack with your running partner. It’s playing blackjack in a casino.
Sure, I like to read, paint, listen to music, and occasionally just veg. And those are relaxing things - but they’re no more relaxing than the things I listed above.
For some reason, though, late Sunday evening during Dragon*Con, I’d had enough. I remember looking across the table at my buddy Eddie and saying, more or less, “That’s it. I’m done,” and then heading upstairs to crash. I remember getting up to my room at the Hilton and finding it utterly blissful to be able to talk to my other buddy Jim in a normal tone of voice - no need to shout. Truth be told, my nerves were shot, my voice was going, and I needed to detox.
And I don’t know how you other folks who went feel, but this year the crowds REALLY got to me. Supposedly, the Con keeps getting record attendance - and it shows. It takes sooooo much longer to get from one hotel to the other, so much longer to get food, so much longer to get an elevator up to your room or down to the lobby. The dress-up people, like The God of War dude pictured above, are the face of Dragon*Con - the chief reason we get the level of press that we do. But lemme tell you from experience - the fucking picture-taking of the costumed people in the middle of every thoroughfare that “normal” people are trying to traverse is just… annoying. Believe me, I understand the need to be the center of attention, but sometimes their sheer thoughtlessness gets to be too much.
I love crowds, but this year, I wished sometimes there were less of them.
And I know it’s just me, and I know it’s just a symptom of me getting older and crotchetier. I know that in a few years, I’ll be chasing whippersnappers off my lawn with a rake and a garden hose. I know the time is coming when my daughter Madeleine starts to think my musical tastes are quaint. I know. I know. I know.
Let it never be said that Dragon*Con is not a good time. It remains my absolute favorite time of the year. I WILL go again next year.
But next year I’m bringing ear plugs and a taser.