Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Thursday at Pantheacon 2013: Where there is a Will, there is a Wait.

Thursday night at Pantheacon.

All of the prepping and planning and two weeks of packing and we are still rushed and stressed from the get-go. Yes, we had a rough start to Pcon 2013.

The problem was that friends of ours had invited us to Thursday night dinner at the froo-froo restaurant in the Double Tree Hotel. Cool, no problem. Except that the reservation was for 6:30pm and Admiral Karen doesn't get off work until 5pm. Could we do commute/last minute pack/car loading/drive over Highway 17/park at the hotel/check-in/move luggage/change clothes/make it to the restaurant all in 90 minutes?

No, as it turns out. But we could do it in 100!

We arrived at the DoubleTree Hotel with 25 minutes to go until our group’s dinner reservation. Luckily we are checking in on the night BEFORE the convention starts. Soooo nice to just walk up to the counter and be handed a cookie. How refined. How dignified. Thursday night check-in ROCKS.

(and yeah, I've been unemployed for over a year now, but the concept of saving some money and checking in with the great, unwashed hordes on Friday was just never an option.)

We grab a luggage cart (another nice feature of Thursday check in), run to the car, make the crippling towers of tumbling doom with our luggage, race to the room (with crates and music stand swaying dangerously back and forth), get in the room after jamming the key in about 20 times, dump the luggage cart sideways onto the floor, grab miscellaneous nice clothes, change like the building is on fire, take the cart back down (lacing up my poofy shirt in the elevator), and join our friends at dinner only 10 minutes late.

Dessert at Spencer's on Thursday. Almost worth the wait!
So yeah, it took us a few minutes to ease into Nice Meal mode after all that. (The martini helped.)

Spencer’s has tremendously good food. It is so worth it about once a year to blow $90.00 per person on a REALLY nice meal. Aaaah, so this is what food CAN taste like. Dinner you eat really slowly, because you are savoring each mouthful, delighting in the delicate interplay of flavors; some subtle, some intense. I can count the number of 'blow the rent' dinners I've had on my hands, and yet I can still recall each and every one. They are that memorable, and as such, worth the jaw-dropping bill at the end.

The only downside to dinner at Spencer's was the service, which was provided by some of the same odd zombies from the infamous Café Ho-Hum next door.
  • My empty drink glass sat forlornly at the edge of our table for the better part of an hour, longing to be filled again. I imagine it is there still, dusty, lonely.....
  • There was a solid half-hour wait between the end of the main course and the dessert course. Waaaaay too long for a prime-time meal. It was scrumptious, but our butts had gone to sleep by the time it was served.
  • Coffee service was not offered. Think about that. Nearly triple figures being shelled out from each of us, and our server cannot be bothered to suggest an after-dinner round of hot drinks. And from a restaurant that blithely charged us $50.00 for the water. Think how much they could have gouged us for 8 cups of Folgers served in the nice china. At Denny's down the street you pay $3.99 for a Grand Slam and you have to fight your waitress NOT to give you 8 cups of coffee per person.

Playing dress up a week before the Con.
But, whatever, the food was excellent. So we all de-camped to one of our rooms and had our own goddamned coffee course. Having been to this particular rodeo many times before, we had all bought our own coffee makings from home.

We dropped off one couple, picked up another and much laughter, storytelling and discourse occurred. I treasure times like these: Just easy conversation amongst good friends. The rest of the weekend we would be inundated with sensation, new people, presentations, and for many of us, Service, but for the rest of this first night it was just me and my goofy friends trading stories, observations, opinions, barbs and testimonials. I love these people. And all was right in the world.

Until that is, we got on the subject that nearly derailed the whole evening, if not the entire Con. A devisive figure was introduced, and the room exploded into armed camps. All or nothing statements were issued. Always/Never sentiments were heard. A white stripe of paint was laid down, bisecting the room into Us and Them. 

Our bone of contention: Will Ferrell. You either lovelovelovelove him or have a strong hankerin' to use his guts for garters. But either way, you are passionate in the defense of your Wisdom. Eventually, after a minimum of hip checks and broken coffee cups, we exited the evening with our friendships and spouses intact. (For the record, I am firmly in the intestines as suspenders camp.)
From the optimistically named:

Back in our room, still flushed after the Force of Will argument, Admiral Karen and I each pursue our own avenues to relaxation: She takes a long, hot bath with her Kindle and I put on a playlist of circus music and thoroughly organize our hotel room.

Of such complexities do we build our lives together.

Pantheacon begins tomorrow. We are ready.

On to Part 2: FRIDAY!

Angus McMahan

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