I’m at Dragon*Con, the world’s largest fantasy and science fiction convention. I point to a man and woman in green face-paint and say, “Hey, that couple is cosplaying as Shrek, and Shrek’s wife.”
My friends correct me: “You mean Fiona.”
Later, I meet a guy who shows me a shitty tattoo on his forearm that he’d gotten of his girlfriend. He says, “I know it’s ugly, the tattoo artist messed it up. It might as well be Shrek.”
So I say, “Why don’t you just go full Shrek? Get all of Shrek’s friends in there, too. Shrek & Company. The donkey, Shrek’s wife…”
He corrects me: “You mean Fiona.” Sure, I guess. Fiona. The lady ogre that Shrek took as his bride. Am I not giving the love of Shrek’s life the respect she deserves? Do you want me to use her maiden name as well? Did they hyphenate?
I’m drinking with a girl with whom I’ve had an ongoing flirtation for months, and Aaron Douglas, the actor who played Chief Tyrol on Battlestar Galactica. I ask the Chief what he’s doing at Dragon*Con this year. He says, “I’m not doing anything. I’m just here to drink. I’m a ghost.”
I raise my glass and say, “Here’s to ghosts.” He clinks my glass and turns to the girl. “So are you going to take this guy to your hotel room and fuck his brains out later?”
“Absolutely not,” she says, “We’re just friends.”
The Chief waves his hand over me, as though I am a brand new dishwasher on The Price Is Right. “What are you talking about? This guy is smart, handsome, and hung like a horse.”
“It’s true,” I say, “I know it seems like we just met, but the Chief inspects everyone’s dick when they arrive at Dragon*Con and he knows what he’s talking about.”
“It’s never going to happen.” says the girl.
Call me old-fashioned, but when someone asks you if you’re a God, you say “yes,” and when Senior Chief Petty Officer Tyrol from Battlestar Galactica asks you if you’re fucking my brains out later, you should at least say, “maybe.”
A few days later, I see the Chief at another bar at Dragon*Con and give him a nod as if to say, “Thanks for vouching for my dick, sight unseen.” He doesn’t even remember me. Maybe he does this kind of thing all the time. He gives me a tight smile, like an overworked public defender passing a vaguely familiar former client on the courthouse steps.
A man next to me puts his hand on Spider-Man’s shoulder in the middle of a crowd of people. “Don’t touch me. Take all the pictures you like, but don’t touch me.” snaps Spider-Man. Guess the man must have set off his spider-sense. Either that, or Spidey is getting a little tired of J. Jonah Jameson’s “private photoshoots.”
This also explains why the most recent cover of The Amazing Spider-Man features a jaded Peter Parker leaning into the passenger-side window of a 1987 Chevrolet Monte Carlo and saying, “You can do whatever you want for the hour, but no kissing on the lips.”
I meet a woman who says she writes for Orson Scott Card’s magazine and Hustler. She pulls out a tube of Hustler-branded lip balm. She says Hustler makes excellent lip balm and gives her as much as she wants.
Orson Scott Card, meanwhile, seems to have done nothing for her chapped lips. Maybe if Orson Scott Card had been more concerned with healthy lips, he’d be kissing Larry Flynt on the mouth right now. Unless Larry Flynt has the same kissing policy as Spider-Man. I’m sure he’d make an exception for the man who wrote Ender’s Game.
It’s possible that, like the frog in the fairy tale, Larry Flynt is just waiting for a transformative kiss. Maybe that’s why he passes out so much lip balm. Sometimes we equip the people around us with the things they need to help us get the things we want.
Seems like whoever ends up kissing Larry Flynt would be the one transformed, though. Like Shrek’s wife was transformed into a Shrek-like creature by kissing Shrek. That’s another reason I refuse to use her proper name. She’s essentially 75% Shrek. He has imbued her with his own Shrek-ness. When we allow others to remake us in their own image, do we not lose our names in the process?
The woman with the Hustler lip balm tells me she writes hard science fiction, so I try to talk to her about time travel. I say, “Time is an illusion, everything is constantly manifesting itself around our points of view.”
Am I drunkenly trying to impress this lady? Yes. Then I slam dunk my thesis statement: “…so time travel is impossible, because time is only one moment constantly rearranging itself around us.” I fancy myself the Stephen Hawking of Dragon*Con, apparently. Looks like Professor Hawking’s had several pineapple upside-down cake shots before formulating his brilliant theory.
This woman does not give a shit about time travel. She asks what I think of her garters. She pulls her dress high enough to reveal the edge of red panties over stockings with the words “Whip Me…Bite Me…Eat Me…Tease Me” in the back seam.
Where is Chief Tyrol from Battlestar Galactica when you need him? When it’s up to me to advocate my own dick, the best I can come up with is “time is an illusion.”
Now there’s a salacious headline that should earn me at least one tube of lip balm from Hustler, or any erotic paper of note. “Dear Penthouse Forum, Have you ever considered that time is a veil of perception over a static existence? Signed, Just Friends At Dragon*Con”
A random guy walks up to her, takes her hand and spins her around in a pirouette. She turns out of his maneuver with a disgusted expression. She says, “I don’t want to have to entertain anybody, I just want to have fun.”
And just like that, I relax and stop trying so hard.
I’m in an elevator on the top floor of the Hilton. Its lone occupant is a man dressed as Nightwing. I tell him, “Nightwing is the great unifier of the DC Comics universe.” A businessman gets on the elevator and holds a set of buttons down at the same time. “Let’s see if this works.” he says. The elevator goes all the way down without stopping. I realize the businessman is the true Nightwing of the elevator, even more than the guy actually dressed as Nightwing.
Somebody in costume as Bender from Futurama tells me to “hurry the fuck up” while I try to get my camera to autofocus. A guy in Mass Effect armor refuses to stop eating pizza long enough to have his photo taken. I guess all the Reapers needed to defeat Commander Shepard was a Papa John’s coupon.
I stop to watch a group of people doing karaoke in costume. An entire hotel lobby full of convention-goers is singing along to “Blister in the Sun.” “Let me go on, like a blister in the sun! Let me go on, big hands I know you’re the one!” sings the crowd in unison. Everyone looks like they’re having the time of their lives.
This might have been the whiskey from the flask I was constantly drinking from during the entire convention, but I got goosebumps watching all those nerds cover Violent Femmes. It was impossible not to become imbued with their enthusiasm. At that moment, I was essentially 75% Dragon*Con.
My friend texts me that he’s just snorted Ecstasy for the first time and wants me to keep an eye on him. I meet him on the elevator and ask him how he’s feeling. He turns to me with dilated pupils and barks, “This stuff might as well be meth, I’m so goddamn keyed up!”
The elevator doors open, and five Atlanta cops get on.
But other than a raised eyebrow, the cops don’t even seem to notice we’re there at all. “Everything was going fine until this happened.” one of the cops grumbles under his breath. Later, I see him escorting a girl in cat ears down to the lobby. I don’t know what she did, but apparently everything was fine until she did it.
My friend wants to go to a late night panel on BDSM. I’m expecting it to be wild. I anticipate a dark room, people hanging from the ceiling on hooks, Jar Jar Binks getting spanked until his bottom is as bright red as Darth Maul’s face.
We open the door to the ballroom and find a brightly-lit, quietly moderated discussion of how to safely introduce BDSM into your relationship. A soft-spoken man is quietly speaking into a microphone. Jar Jar Binks’ bottom remains unscathed, for now.
We end up at the Dragon*Con Sunday night rave. I’m dancing to bad electronica. My friend on Ecstasy is jumping up and down next to me. Cheetara from Thundercats is waving her staff in the air nearby. A tall man with frizzy hair is whipping his head around and getting sweat on me.
For all I know, it’s actually Peter Mayhew. Does Chewbacca even sweat? Maybe he pants when he’s overheated. Someone should redub all the Star Wars films to include panting noises whenever Chewbacca gets any exercise. Or whenever he sees Carrie Fisher in her Slave Leia outfit.
That’s what Star Wars needs, right? A horny, out-of-shape Chewbacca.
Cheetara raises her staff. Having nothing else to raise, I raise my drink. Here’s to Dragon*Con, and here’s to ghosts, and here’s to Shrek’s undying love for his no-doubt lovely wife, whose name escapes me at the moment.