I’m not going to make a Wymore joke this time. He recently had his entire collection of Hello Kitty Memorabilia. He needs to be alone just now.

So let’s talk about the green room. In smaller cons, everyone will have access to the green room. At something like a comic con, you might have to earn a little cred before you get inside.

I want to talk about the latest Comic Con in particular.

I spend a lot of time in the Green Room at one of these cons. There I get a sense of family I rarely experience elsewhere in my life. It’s just been me and my mother for a very long time. I never had siblings. Big family dinners are relatively unknown to me. All the close family died many years ago.

I usually find some place to set up at a con, where a group of writers and fans and other professionals can come and go. We don’t talk about craft. We get enough of that in the panels. We just spend time in the presence of people who’ve shared the same experiences. The people who have stayed up late on a book deadline. The people who have known rejection and despair and delight and crushing defeat in the same profession we have. Most of us aren’t anywhere near the same point in our careers. It doesn’t matter.

In the past, at Comic Con, I’ve set up on the couches. I realized this con what a mistake that was. Couches can’t hold enough people and they are often positioned all wrong. Without the couches set up for People Watching, I set up at a table with a view of the door and the food. I was there more than 10 hours most days. I usually had only three hours away on the floor or at a panel. So the rest of the time I spent at what we called “The Party Table.”

I don’t want you to think that I take credit for the party table. The only thing I really contributed to the party table was a sense of continuity. I set up there the first thing when I arrived (or when they opened the doors), and I would just hang out and see who wanted to talk. When people came in who I knew, I’d try to catch their eye and wave, because everyone likes to feel like Norm at Cheers.

And one or two people would sit down eventually. Sometimes I’d know them, like Julie Peterson Wright or Scott Taylor or James Dashner. Sometimes they’d stay long. Sometimes they’d leave quickly. Sometimes new people would come. I met Dan Schaefer and Andrew Mayne andKevin Hearne this con. (When I first sat down at the table, I was actually crashing the conversation of Kevin and Brian McClellan).

Conversations and groups would form. Julie would attract friends, then they would attract friends, and then Julie would leave but the little microcosm relationships would remain. The Hello, Sweetie! Podcast would do a fly by. Kevin J. Anderson would insist that I was a lazy bum that lived in the green room. Larry Correia would eat dinner and sometimes stay, sometimes leave. We’d joke and we’d laugh and we’d tell stories. I met radio personalities MiShell Livio and Cate Allen. At one point Jessica Day George sat down, turned to me, and basically did a twenty minute, spot-on improv comedy routine. Then she left. Many others came and went. On Friday, at one point, a giant collection of chairs had bulged out to the side of the table, as if another table was about to spontaneously appear through asexual fission.

I took part of many of these conversations, but at times, all the people would dissolve on my side of the table to the point where I could barely even hear the conversations. At others five conversations would happen at once and I’d realize I was trying to take part in three of them.

People will probably think that I’m going to say the highlight of the weekend was when Scott Taylor drew PJ Haarsma into a conversation on producing Con Man, and then Alan Tudyk did a fly by. I made two jokes. Alan laughed at one and shook my hand when offered.

But that isn’t it. The magic happened the first time on Friday, and again twice on Saturday. The magic came when I was suddenly alone, and yet the table was full. When every conversation had shifted away from me and I just sat and watched. Two people laughed to my left. Two more were in serious consultation to my right. Across from me, five awesome women has a conversation that I can only assume involved how to handle the tremendous burden of awesomeness.

There was no pressure. No conversation to track. No need to be funny or to be actively listening or to commiserate over a botched panel. There was just the conversations, organic and living, the relationships shifting and merging and breaking and reforming around me. I was completely apart. And I watched old friends and new. People I liked or loved or barely knew. I watched the interactions live and breathe, and I realized it had happened.

The table had taken on a life of its own. I watched, and I took it in, and I knew a profound contentment and a boundless joy.

Those three moments were the height of comic con.

But when the smoke had cleared and the last person had left. When the soda cans sat empty and forlorn and the last cries on the floor started to echo, we took a deep breath and we smiled upon the day and we rechristened it the Alan Tudyk Commemorative Party Table.

Because: Alan Tudyk.

[Originally posted at: http://www.robertjdefendi.com/main/2015/10/17/your-fiftieth-convention-part-2-the-green-room]

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