Just Visiting Or Staying Over?

Written By: Randy Hall

Published: Issue 33


The holiday season is upon us, and I'm making plans regarding where I'm going to spend Christmas and New Year's, as well as where I'm going to stay while I'm there. Of course, this got me thinking about (What else?) conventions!


When I first started attending conventions, I only went to those that were held in the area where I was living. That was pretty convenient, since I only had to get to where the con was being held and later return home. Even now, many conventions only last one day, so it's possible to drive there and back all in one outing and save some quatloos along the way.


As time went by, I heard more and more about fan gatherings that lasted all weekend long, and I wondered what in the world people could be doing in a hotel for two or three whole days. I mean, how much could you possibly talk about Star Trek before you'd run out of things to say?


That would change with the release of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. My twin brother, Wayne, and I wanted to go see it and, since our Mom was in town visiting, the three of us made our way to the theater.


As we left our car and headed for the ticket counter, we came across two women handing out flyers. One of them was clad in a Next Generation-era Starfleet uniform, while the other looked like a Vulcan priestess, ears and all. Mom was a little baffled by their outfits, but we assured her they were just Trek costumes and not the way people living near Washington, D.C., dressed. At least, not all of the time.


While we were waiting for Trek VI to blow us away (which it did), we looked at the flyers and saw they were inviting people who like Trek to join a new club in the area. A few weeks later, we attended our first meeting of the U.S.S. Chesapeake club, and we've been members ever since.


It wasn't long before a convention came to the area, and one of the club's founders told us that a big reason she wanted to get a club together was so a group of us could attend the con and have others to enjoy the experience with. I have to admit that at first, I wasn't overjoyed about spending the money to stay in the hotel for two nights, but my brother and I shared a room, which brought down the cost to an affordable price.


By the time that weekend was over, we'd had a terrific time and couldn't wait for the next con. Not only had we heard the guests and perused the dealers' room as we had always done, but we also talked about Trek and other science fiction with fellow fans until the wee hours of the morning. We were a little short on sleep the next day, but we still had a blast.


The next night, we played some table games in one of our rooms and even had some other conventioneers join us. One was a guy in a Starfleet outfit, and another was a turtle-headed Klingon who spat out something incomprehensible whenever we asked his name. After a while, we really got into the game, and the person passing the Klingon the dice for his turn absent-mindedly asked what our alien friend's name was.


"Lenny," he replied, falling out of character for just a moment.


"Lenny?" we asked as all activity came to an abrupt halt. "Lenny ... the Klingon?"


Lenny's attempt to again become an other-worldly being didn't do him much good as the rest of us couldn't help but laugh and call him by his non-Klingon name for the rest of the game. I guess those Klingons aren't so rough and tumble once you get to know them.


(I suspect a lot of Klingons at cons are very timid certified public accountants during the week who spend their time saying: "Yes, Sir. Whatever you say, Sir. I'll get to it right now, Sir." But put a turtle shell on their heads on the weekend and they go around proclaiming, "I am Klingon. Hear me roar!" That's my theory, anyway.)


Needless to say, that weekend was a great bonding experience as we learned a lot more about fellow club members and others who wanted to get away from phone bills and buying groceries for at least a few days.


So should you just go for the day or stay overnight at a weekend con? Well, there are a lot of things to consider when making your choice. The biggest consideration is what you want to do at the con. Are you a big fan of at least one of the guests? Then you might want to hang around so you can meet and talk with other fans and perhaps the guest as well. Do you know other people staying over at the con? While it's fine to get a room to yourself and just chill out there after the day's activities are done, it's a lot more fun to share a room and talk about your favorite characters and episodes with others who feel as you do (or even those who don't).

Now, don't get me wrong. You can still have a great time if you come for just the day. If you live near where the con is being held or have friends or relatives you can stay with, then by all means, save a few quatloos and visit with the folks you know. However, you could pop back to the con when you can and spend a little more time chatting with your friends there. And you might be able to afford another nifty item or two in the dealers' room, too.

Regarding how all of this in with BBK, it doesn't directly. Still, I've had many interesting discussions with fans who didn't think anyone else was upset over Kirk's unthrilling end. Staying in the hotel also gives me the time to keep an eye on the stack of BBK flyers on the fans' table and replenish the pile when necessary.