I’m going to go ahead and get this first part out of the way already and just let you know that after Maggie picked me up from the airport she drove for over 15 minutes in the wrong direction. I flew into Oakland and she needed to drive back into San Francisco to finish packing, and as we were driving I noticed that the mountains were on the wrong side of the road for us to be headed back into the city (for those of you living in Utah you can see how I was confused that someone WASN’T PAYING ATTENTION TO THE MOUNTAINS, God’s gift of directions to the directionally-challenged).
I brought this up several times throughout the weekend, and at one point Maggie stopped me and said, “You don’t ever let anything go, do you?” I guess you could call it the Dave Letterman in me, or the obnoxious 13-year-old, take your pick. I think Maggie would call it “The One Thing About You That Would Make Me Scratch My Eyes Out If I Had To Hang Around With You More Than Twice a Year.”
After checking into the Westin, the hotel next to the conference center, and being pelted with obscenities and one, “SHAME ON YOU FOR STAYING AT A HOTEL THAT IS BEING PICKETED,” we had a couple cocktails to get the party started, to numb our guilt over sleeping on Heavenly Beds (registered trademark), beds that are causing more injuries than coal mines (that’s what the flyer said, I’m not making it up although I’d love to take credit for that one) Here’s the thing, if you want me to understand why you don’t want me to support something that you think is harming other people then don’t scream in my ear with a megaphone and call me names because you sound a lot like some of the crazy people who send me hatemail and I don’t listen to them either.
At the conference’s opening dinner I got to meet my most treasured Internet icons (minus Sarah Brown, but that day is coming and she should be very, very afraid). Alice, Mrs. Kennedy, Melissa, and Jen, women who helped me survive some of the darkest months of my life. Here were my impressions:
Mrs. Kennedy: Before I left for this trip Jon said that he wished he could be a fly on the wall to see what sort of trouble Maggie and I would get into with the leadership of Mrs. Kennedy. I secretly wished that she was packing fireworks to set off in the trashcans lining the lobby of the hotel. Thing is, Mrs. Kennedy seemed to be the most grounded, calm and quietly funny person in the group. I knew pretty quickly that she wouldn’t be setting anything on fire, except maybe a few hearts of the Polyamorous Group (the women who wanted all the other women to know that they had an open marriage, anyone interested?) with her lingerie-model back and shoulder tattoo. I had to fight the urge to bow before her and call her Master.
Alice: Seriously and not-to-be-trifled-with funny. She was unstoppable, definitely the one we all turned to when something funny should be said and no one else could think of anything. She’s the exact person you would want standing next to you when you run into an ex-boyfriend and he says something stupid but you’re too flustered to point out how stupid that was because you’ve been suddenly confronted with someone who has seen your vagina, someone who had to kick off his garden clogs before climbing into bed, and you can’t believe that he’s alive and walking around with knowledge of your O! face. And because she’s a veritable fucking walking library of commentary she can say the comeback for you, something wonderful like, “Why does your breath smell like cabbage?”
Melissa: Unbelievably warm and sweet and not in a Holly Hobbie paisley bonnet sort of way, but in a she would hold your head in her lap as you wept uncontrollably kind of way. Yes, that comes across on her website, but you have to see her smile in person. It could sustain a basement full of petunias in the winter with its light. During one of the panels we attended she sent me an email with nothing but a subject line: “I feel my face melting off.” Which pretty much summed up EVERY SINGLE feeling in the room at the time as one panelist kept digging a hole deeper and deeper from which she would never return. This makes her the perfect person to hang out with during a playgroup, YOU PEOPLE IN MICHIGAN DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE. Melissa, you can take a picture of my child anytime with a thought bubble coming out of her head that includes various tenses of FUCK. And I won’t even sue.
Jen: Oh, Jen. What can I say here, drug buddy? Jen gave a great hug, and I could stop right there because that pretty much just stumps everything else, but I won’t. I will go on to say that you may think that she is funny on her website, but YOU HAVE NO IDEA. She has the most adorable Canadian accent, and my God, that woman is funny. I laughed at every thing that came out of her mouth, and not just because of the OOts and ABOOts, but because she used them like a seasoned comic. We had our imps within weeks of each other and it was great to see how far both of us have come since then, meds and therapy and coming to terms with the fact that whether we like it or not we are now Mothers (registered trademark). I really hated saying goodbye to her.
And then there were all the other lovely people I met, people who said hello, people who hugged and people who squealed with delight. You all made my experience a transforming one, even though no one went topless. Maybe next time.
Maggie and I left the conference a little early and headed back up to San Francisco to have dinner with her husband, and that’s a whole story for another time that includes dildos and bedtime mosquitos and miscommunication with the bartender and a lesbian with braces who wanted to teach us about how sometimes women can be drier than other women at different times during the month. Eww, yes, eww.
Until then I should really thank Maggie because she stood in for Jon this weekend and made sure that I wasn’t kidnapped and thrown into the back of a car and taken away to a storage shed somewhere in Idaho. I talked to whoever wanted to talk to me, and as the conference got closer to its end the interviews got closer to the door. At one point Maggie had to stand behind this guy with a handheld camcorder to make sure he wasn’t zooming in on my crotch, and I realized, I probably would have given an interview to someone in their trunk if that’s where they wanted me because I don’t know any better. Your trunk? That’s a little weird, but maybe you’re an artist!
Thank you, Maggie. Thank you for your stories and support and letting me tell that one about how you got lost leaving the Oakland airport. Thank you for taking a compliment so I didn’t have to keep repeating just how beautiful you are (she has the most amazing figure on the Internet), and for driving and showing me around all those scary sex toys. If I had a cell phone you’d be stored in My Contacts under Best Girlfriend Ever.