Friday, March 13, 2009

Why the Gold Package--and Never Sleeping--is Totally the Only Way to Go

First, if you've looked at convention details at all, you know the Gold Package contains pretty much everything but the photo ops. (the autographs alone are worth a couple hundred individually) This one also included two exclusive events.

The first one was the dessert reception on Saturday night. This was the only event that was not ideally managed, but I blame the hotel for moving the venue to a much, much smaller room. It was jam-packed, and there weren't enough seats for everyone. At the least, some people couldn't sit with their friends. By the time they let us in, the ice cream at the sundae bar was more than half melted, and it was impossible to make and carry a sundae without dripping it all over yourself. Well, impossible if you also wanted chocolate-covered strawberries (and who doesn't, really) and a beverage? I dripped chocolate all over the table. That would have been okay if anyone had noticed. If one of the guests commented on the mess, I was going to say I drooled when they came in the room. But, alas, they failed, or were too polite, to notice.

The breakfast was better handled. The let us into the room in groups. The first set of people chose seats and then went to the buffet, and as they got through, they let the next group of people in to do the same. It was also in the larger room, so it all flowed better. The food was really good, too, and it was nice not to have to pay for a meal in the overpriced restaurant.

At both events, they circulate the guests all around, two minutes at each table. For weeks--months!--I'd wondered how on earth I'd come up with anything to say. Turns wasn't a problem. Not just because everyone else had plenty to say, but because my brain actually worked when faced with engaging people.

So Gold ticket holders get to attend those two events. Originally, it was going to be different people at the dessert reception (but I'm glad it changed because Gabe was awesome) and then Jared at the breakfast, and I don't think he would have sat at the tables with us, he would have just been on stage.

Gold ticket holders also get the primo seats in the main auditorium, of course. We were in row C. Lori was in row D, but sometimes she came up and sat with us because there was an empty seat. The last perk of Gold is getting in line for authographs sooner. That's the most tedious part, the only time there's any real waiting.

Okay, now how does not sleeping fit in?

These next two sets of stories are what elevated this trip from excellent to (one of) the best weekend(s) of my life.

Friday night they had a karaoke party at 11:00. It wasn't very crowded, I'm guessing mostly because it was late. And maybe because we had a higher proportion of first-timers who didn't know what they'd get out of it besides, you know, karaoke.

Someone had asked Chad if he was going to attend, and he said absolutely, so I asked Jason, who said probably not because he had family coming in. I was bummed, but about half an hour into the torture singing, we spotted both of them. A while later, Richard came in and sent our table aflutter. Kayleigh and Mallory went over to talk to him, and when she came back Kayleigh said he was the nicest guy in the world. So Lori pushed me and Megan into going to talk to them.

Now, this was hard for me. Small talk with anyone is painful. I do not have the gift. My sister-in-law's sister and her husband do, so much that I'd have thought the fairies gave it to them or something. My brain just doesn't seem to like it. I always envision myself being lame and causing awkward silence and halting conversation as the other person wishes desperately that I'd go away.

Thank God for Megan and Lori. They made it so easy! So we did it, we sidled up to Chad until he finished his current conversation and kind of turned our way. We talked for a while, then sidled on so someone else could move in, while we corralled Jason and talked to him (he knew who Megan was! It was very gratifying). Eventually we let him go, too, and made our way to Richard. And stalled.

Because he was so COOL. The discussion flowed freely and I forgot we were silly fangirls talking to an actor. We were creative professionals sharing insights and opinions. Chad joined us after about 10 or 15 minutes and we talked for a long time more. Eventually I noticed other people crowding in really close. Not (I hope) in a "get out of here we want to talk" kind of way (most of the people had already talked to them), but in a "listening intently" kind of way. Megan pointed out more than once that there was an advantage to being last, and it paid off. We talked until one of the Creation people made us stop and let Richard go to bed because he had to be up early in the morning (I don't know why, stuff didn't start until noon, but maybe there was something else I missed/chose not to pay hundreds of dollars for). It was nearly 1:30 so we went to our room, which was a mistake because apparently, even though I thought the karaoke machine had been shut down, Chad decided he would sing. It was on YouTube by the next morning.

Saturday, before the dessert reception, I saw Richard crossing the lobby as we were about to go into the bar where we'd spotted Misha Collins in the back. Terri Clark, one of my fellow Supernatural Sisters, had suggested I interview Betsy Morris (screenwriter of Ten Inch Hero) and mentioned she wanted to interview Jim Beaver. Inspired by that, I stopped Richard and asked if he would be willing to do an interview with me for the blog. He agreed, and then we (the four of us, as I was never without my conversation greasers) lingered outside the bar talking about his father's novels and other things. While we were talking Misha left the bar, but we were pretty okay with missing him. :)

Finally, after the dessert reception, we did make it into the bar, where Richard and Gabe came in a short while later. Richard paused only to ask if Gabe wanted a drink, but Gabe lingered, even when Richard never came back, and wound up sitting with us the rest of the night. Even after he'd get up and talk to some other people, he'd come back. Jason Manns joined us for a little while, too. Other fans hung out *waves at Mike and Darlene and the Gaiman fan whose name I forget!* until we all dejectedly gave in to the late hour and the looming daylight savings time.

A little perspective...

I'm obviously giddy about all the time we got to spend with these celebrities. I want to stress that I don't think it makes me special. They spent time with a lot of people, and they won't remember me if we meet up again, say at next year's con in Parsippany or on the set for the movie of my book, which will cast all my favorite actors. :) I'm thrilled that they seemed to enjoy talking to us not because it feeds my ego (though, okay, there's a little of that), but because it showed them as regular people. The things we talked about were either normal (lasagna and honeymoons and cars) or made to seem normal (the film world) because they shared it as if it was.

Also, the fact that they came down to spend casual time with the fans (Todd and Malik were in the bar Saturday night, too, but we missed them) when they didn't have to created a whole new dimension to fandom. They connected their side of the entertainment line to our side, making it a relationship instead of something that has potential to be cold and a little sad.

This is good business, of course, becaues making us feel special helps cement the real relationship, that between our money and their wallets. If they make us like them as people, we'll go rent their movies and watch their shows and give them free promotion, to a greater extent than we might without that additional spark.

However, that can be done without crossing the dividing line. We (people) can tell when someone is doing a job and when they're genuinely enjoying themselves, and being part of that is more than worth the price of admission.


Ava Quinn said...

Been waiting till the end to comment. What awesome fun! I'm so glad you had such a good time.

I laughed when you wrote that you have trouble with small talk. I feel you on that one. I'm terrible at it!!!! Half the time I'm in the middle of a conversation, and I get the almost uncontrollable urge to yell, "What's that!" point to something behind them, and when they look, run away.

You got some great experiences to float on until the next time you go!

AuthorM said...

I'm totally on the Richard and Gabe and Chad fan train now -- anything they do, I'm going to see or pay attention to, simply because they were so very, very cool and nice.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I think a lot of writers are like us, Ava. :) Doesn't help, though, knowing that.

Me, too, M, me, tooo!