This past weekend I successfully completed a convention trifecta – I attended three conventions on three consecutive weekends. Horrorfind, Intervention, and Monster Mania – these three cons made up three quarters of my September weekend content. Each one I attended in order to promote something I was involved with. Each one required plenty of prep and getting all my projects for the week completed early so I could be ready for each convention. And each one left me feeling more exhausted. Of course, it didn’t help that each weekend was also accompanied by some kind of personal matter that got all up in my face and rudely ate my french fries.
I think I butchered a catch phrase somewhere. And did you notice the repeated usage of the number three in that first paragraph? It’s gotta be symbolic, or something – like that Da Vinci Code thing. There’s probably some codex or something that you use on this week’s blog that will point out the location of a secret cache of denim pants invented by Picasso centuries before the recorded invention.
Where was I?
Oh, right – conventions. Sorry, still singed a little from the hit-and-run that September threw at me.
So, despite the paces I was put through… despite the drama… despite a few disappointments here and there, there were plenty of good things to be had during each weekend. At Horrorfind, I got to hang out with some great people and live in fear for my life from Scary Busey. At Intervention, I got to participate in some great panels and promote the hell out of my projects. At Monster Mania, I got to see the fruits of my acting labours when the DVD of the three shorts I co-star in hit the table and were being sold.
But the most memorable experience is none of the above. And it happened almost as the capper to those three long weeks. For a night, I got to be that guy.
No, not that guy. The other one. The one who holds the hair back of the female friend who just had way too much to drink and decides it’s time for her to give back.
Luckily for me, the collected works of John Hughes, combined with the common trope used in nineties slacker flicks gave me enough training to deal with just this kind of scenario:
We fade in as the scene begins. The evening seems innocuous enough, just like you’d expect. Lots of great socializing, flirting, drinking, and silly antics are had within the first couple of hours. Nothing special to write home about. This is, of course, just the set up to the third act, when the main protagonist of the picture has to come to the rescue of said female friend who just might have gotten herself into a wee bit of trouble.
The drinking gets more intense. The fun begins to get out of hand. Our protagonist, who has kept himself rather sober for the evening’s events, begins to pay extra close attention to the potential danger on display. So far, nothing too out of hand – just some harmless groping and frivolous goofiness still afoot. But, our hero’s Spider-Sense is starting to tingle. Something’s about to go down.
And almost as soon as he gets the buzz, it happens – some drunk guy gets a little aggressive. A quick feint, then a side-step and the incident has been successfully avoided… all the while her alcohol content tells him to cut it out and let her do her thing. After all, she’s just trying to have some fun. Or, the rum is. I firmly believe that rum is a sentient being like The Stuff that tricks you into ingesting it so that it can take control of a human body and tear around in it like you would if you got ahold of your best friend’s dad’s convertible 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California for an afternoon of fun in Chicago.
But despite the nefarious schemes of one slick bottle of hooch, our hero remains steadfast in his mission – to ensure that nothing obscene or horrid befalls our female lead.
Too bad he was too late to intercept the two bites of calzone she just ingested. Oops. Way to fail at Burger King, Duckie.
It’s at this point that the calzone and the rum decide to rumble. Her stomach. I think one of them brought a knife to a rum fight, because the rum wasted no time kicking the calzone’s ass. The side effects of this come in a quick, staccato-like fashion:
“I need a drink.”
“I think you had enough for tonight, dear.”
“No, I need some water.”
“And we’re going.”
One cup of water. Check.
“I need to sit down”
“You going to throw up?”
“… I think so.”
Luckily, the ladies’ room is right across from the bench they are sitting on. As our main protagonist does his best to help a wobbly bundle of nauseous to her feet, that’s when the scene perfectly tempers the dramatic element on hand with a slight tinge of comedy.
Enter, the Hispanic cleaning guy.
He begins his part in the scene just standing against the same wall where our two main characters were sitting. Surrounded by filled bags of trash, it appears like he is spending his non-cleaning time contemplating his life, or why he has allowed himself to be surrounded by bags of trash. Surely, they are out for revenge on him. But, that’s a different plot for a different movie.
It immediately becomes clear that our hero simply cannot leave his co-star to her own devices in the ladies room, as her resistance to gravity is dropping. This is where the cleaning guy gets his big moment in the scene. Opening the door for both our leads, he then follows them inside… where another Hispanic cleaning guy appears to be just hanging out, enjoying the ambiance of an empty and clean ladies’ room.
Well, that enjoyment will be short-lived.
Our male protagonist quickly – but carefully – escorts his companion to the second stall. Why the second stall? Because the first would seem too well-scripted. Has to look random, silly. At this point the first cleaning guy takes a seat next to the second in this extravagant lounge area that is exclusive to the women’s rest room. Here, they begin a dialogue in Spanish while Spanish music plays on the portable stereo one of them brought in with them. This will be the soundtrack to the next several minutes as events continue to unfold to their natural conclusion.
See, I told you there would be funny involved.
This is it now – the moment that several years of watching John Candy and the Brat Pack in coming-of-age tales set in Illinois has prepared our male lead for. This moment is precisely why he sat through angsty, grunge-driven nineties cinema. And it’s about to pay off. Time for him to step up to the plate–er, bowl.
As she takes her position, he takes his. In order to do this right, he has to make sure that every strand that could possibly fall into the line of fire is carefully secured within his hands. There’s no room for failure here.
The first volley comes quickly. And like during the opening of the Ark of the Covenant, it’s best not to look.
Oh crap, he looks.
But he’s good! His face didn’t melt. For some odd reason, his resolve and his concern for her well-being overrides every instinctual urge to join her in the projectile sports on display. He maintains his distance, while gently and firmly maintaining his handhold on her perfectly-pigtailed coiffure – all the while Spanish music punctuated by excited chatter in the same tongue continues to serve as a barely-acceptable replacement for Simple Minds.
At long last, the worst is over. Our damsel-in-distress has made it through the fire unscathed, and her knight-in-shining-armour has emerged victorious. He has fulfilled his duties in exemplary fashion. Standing her back up – slowly and gently – he flushes the evidence of a horrible battle on the plains of Tummyrumble and helps her make her way out of the stall…
…and into the comedic beat of an awkward after-moment comprised of two hotel janitors, a barely-conscious evacuator, and a poor schlub who immediately succumbs to his own self-awareness.
The rest is just typical wrap-up – getting her to her room. One last bit of comedy is played out as he fumbles in the dark while trying furiously to get her changed one-handed – all while holding a flashlight – so that she can be comfortable and go right to sleep. He takes one last look at her – peacefully passed-out – as he comes to the realization that he did something good and noble. She’s safe and he can now retire to his own hotel room. By the next day, both of them have learned something important about themselves and each other. The movie’s theme by OMD begins to play as the scene fades to black and the credits begin to roll.
Three conventions, three weekends – filled to the brim with great and sour moments. And amongst them all, this one seems best fit to close them out.
John Hughes would be proud. The nineties, not so much.
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