As you travel life’s highways, stop and smell the roses…and get a piercing. That’s the advice Con’rs heard, anyway. DragonCon is, as of recent years, a five day event including labor day. The event takes place in Atlanta within the Marriott Marquis and Hyatt hotels (registration was actually taken care of in the Hilton this year). For the last two or three years, the Masquerade competition took place at the Atlanta Civic Center. This year, they put it back in its original Centennial Ballroom in a hotel. I enjoyed it more when it was at the Civic Center. Sure, you had to walk or ride a bus to get there, but I didn’t mind that at all.
The cultural aggregate in DragonCon is phenomenal. You see a lot of different people; all freakish in their own way. This is one of those places that the minority is a majority and it’s all good. The gamut goes from D&D dorks to Goth geeks. There are costumers, techies, thespians, ravers, and the insane. If you’re not in costume, you’re probably thinking of one for next year. If you are in costume, you’re in the ranks of a celebrity. I dressed up as Chewbacca this year, courtesy Jeff McClure’s costume. I already have big plans for how I want to dress next year, but I always do. I couldn’t help but notice that many of the costumes (or maybe they’re just outfits) required quite a bit of commitment. With Chewbacca, I need only blacken my eyes and slip into a skin. I can go further by practicing my growl and get the gestures down. But some of the costumes involved lots of shiny trinkets pushed through envelopes of skin. If there wasn’t a loose piece left, then skin was pinched up to make one. There were also excellent displays of tattoos, dye-jobs, and hair weaves. This kind of preparation has some permanence to it. You can’t just comb out those dreadlocks. You can’t use a rough soap to wash off a facial tattoo. And yet they persisted. I have to believe that DragonCon just may be one of the largest meetings for people with part-time jobs. All ages are expressed, but I just can’t believe that they’re all holding down bankers’ jobs in a teller booth somewhere. I present my work environment with pierced ears everyday, but I don’t know that they would be so nonchalant if I dawned a silver tooth through my lip. Maybe they would and I’m just short-changing myself. I seriously considered dying my hair this time around, but my wife (who’s hair was partly dyed purple) passively convinced me not to. I decided I didn’t want to go through the headache of bleaching and rebleaching my hair. I like the effect, but I don’t like what it looks like when you let it just wash out. I also wonder about the financial stability of these folks. DragonCon is not an inexpensive event. I assume that most of those people treated it as a vacation and went all out for it. There is the hotel cost, admission, and material goods and foods while you’re there. I doubt anyone with a hotel gets out for much less than $1,000.00. Plus, the costumes, piercings, tattoos, salon time adds up significantly. Maybe they’re just better money managers than we are. That’s too depressing though. I’d rather think they’re all deadbeats like me.
Along those lines, I’ll convey an interesting conversation I overheard in the lobby:
The Setup: Crowded hotel lobby filled with Sci-Fi convention goers. A guy approaches the mess wearing a nice button-up shirt and kahki shorts. Despite his appearance, he’s just another part of the crowd. He moves down the stairs into the lobby commanding “high fives” as he passes fellow fans. It’s not even noon yet, but he seems pretty drunk. He approaches a guy decked in Goth and starts up a loud conversation.
Frat Boy: Hey man! What’s UP!!! This is really great, isn’t it?
Goth: yeah. It’s cool.
Frat Boy: Why aren’t you drunk yet?!? (now with arm around the Goth)
Goth: Sorry. I don’t drink. (walks away)
This is one of those oddities you can’t imagine if you don’t know the type. Here’s someone, the Goth, that the average person assumes is into all sorts of evil; alcohol and drugs. In fact, it’s the otherwise normal-looking guy that probably does hold down a banker’s job somewhere. He’s the one that is drunk at 11:00 in the morning. I know it’s not always the case, but it’s a good example for the whole appearances thing. Give a Goth a chance, that’s all.