Published on September 2nd, 2013 | by Trapper A. Collins
On the PAX Trail: Day 3
I groaned; my everything hurt in ways I never thought possible. It felt as if I was laying on a roulette table. I half expected people to start placing bets. Instinctively my arm grabbed the bedside table to steady myself and hopefully stop the spinning. I realized this failed when the table started spinning with me. With a deep breath I opened my eyes and looked around. I was in my hotel room and judging by the early-morning sun it was six am.
I breathed a few times when I sat up, to alleviate the nausea and impending hurling. What was bugging me the most was that I couldn’t remember much from the previous night. I thought hard, but the eye-twitching headache limited my ability to think clearly. After the D&D game concluded, I remember meeting up with a few PAX friends. The activities list mainly comprised console free-play fighting games interspersed with safety meetings. A few more people joined into one of our meetings and started chit-chatting. Next thing I know, we’re in a large hotel room surrounded by nothing but liquor, even more people, and possibly a donkey show. I wasn’t too sure about the show, for that may have been caused by a mix of whiskey and safety meetings.
My stomach lurched when I rolled out of bed and onto the floor. The cool carpet felt really nice against my face which was an indicator of how rough of shape I was in. Slowly, I crawled my way to the bathroom shower, stripping what clothing I was wearing off much like a snake shedding its skin. I meekly turned the shower on to a warm setting, curled into a ball, and rocked back and forth; I was a ruined man that was destroyed by a combination of whiskey and hubris.
It was noon before I recovered a bit and was able to emerge from my shower of solitude. I didn’t feel one-hundred-percent yet, hell I barely felt thirty-percent, but I was able to stand and walk. Thankfully the room had stopped spinning. After finding a fresh set of clothing and downing some Tylenol with a few swills from the whiskey bottle, I made my way down to the hotel lobby.
Upon reaching the lobby, I stopped and looked around. The atmosphere felt different and didn’t feel like a typical Sunday PAX. While there were lines of PAXers standing amongst a mountain of bags, eager to be checked out to catch outbound transport, they weren’t nearly as voluminous as they have been in previous years. In fact, it still felt like Saturday PAX, complete with the hangover experience.
I smiled and took off to the convention center. There was still a sense of liveliness in the in the air, despite half the crowd looking very sleep deprived, slightly hungover, and shuffling due to sore feet. If I hadn’t known better, I’d swear that these people were zombies in the making. Despite being in this shambling state of affairs, the con goers still had a glint in their eyes and still had a sense of wonder about them.
Today’s agenda was filled with panels, which was both good and bad. Good in the sense that I could see an interesting topic being discussed, whose panelists may be drunk. Also, my feet would experience the joy of walking on carpet. Bad in the sense that in order to get into the panel, I had to show up early, which ate up adventure time.
I had arrived at one of my first panels and already the line was quite thick, despite having shown up an hour and a half early. Well, crap. But when life gives you lemons you turn them into lemon grenades. I walked down the line and setup camp. A con goer had a power strip plugged into the wall. I immediately struck up a conversation and plugged my phone in. Clearly I’m a cheap date when it comes to electrical sockets at PAX. However it highlighted a great thing about PAX: you could make friends easy enough, if you talk, since everybody has the same interests, hobbies, and will to help out. Anyone offering a power strip is instantly canonized into sainthood.
I placed my faith in the patron saint of wall sockets by leaving my phone behind and explored the line a bit. To kill time, line attendees were mingling and getting to know each other through games of Magic, board games, and whatever the popular DS game is. Though, I heard some swearing in the line and concluded that people were playing Mario Kart. Some where even napping.
At PAX, lines had a unique culture. While waiting for the same panel or event, a sense of community built up. They would socialize, play games, hell, I even recall a time when one took out a boom box and started a dance party. I even recall seeing flasks passed on the sly.
Unfortunately, such culture only lasts for so long. The end wasn’t dramatic like a conquering army, elders dying, or a riot, which would be quite entertaining. No, this culture ended when the theater room doors opened and the line started moving. Games would wrap up, some would rise from their naps, and electronics would be unplugged and feed off battery life as the line shuffled towards the doors. Once they closed, the hall would go silent as if the line were never there.
Wait? Silent? I blinked. I noticed that the line was gone and the panels doors were shut. Crap. I must have fazed out, which happens a lot. Looks like I wasn’t getting into this panel. Slightly defeated, I walked over to my phone, which was thankfully still there and fully charged. That was another thing about the lines are PAX; you could leave your gear to save your spot in line while you went to forage for food or find a washroom to enjoy the previous nights liqour in the relative privacy of a bathroom stall. I pocketed my phone and went off to my next panel.