alt.polycon: Sunday Afternoon
(October 14, 1996, and beyond)
Unlike much of the rest of the convention, Sunday afternoon was quite relaxed and casual: the only thing scheduled was a "Programming Wind-down" panel which wove together earlier conversational threads and started a couple hours after the Banquet broke up. In the meantime, folks hung out near the consuites and talked about all sorts of stuff. This inspired one of the convention's best quotes, which was Debbie's trenchant observation that "[y]ou can tell it's a polyamory convention because they're talking about science fiction in the con suite!" Of course, the opposite of this is equally true – perhaps partly because so many speculative or futuristic novels explore alternatives to monogamy.
But as much as I liked Debbie's remark, my favorite comment was Ryan Alexander's description of monogamy as a game where the stakes are "forever: double or nothing." This is perhaps a bit unfair; after all, monogamous folks don't have to presume that they'll have a single partner for eternity. And if they do, they don't have to think that it would be wrong for a current sweetie to be non-sexually intimate with another. They also don't have to stop trying to work out a new relationship with their ex-sweeties once they've broken up. But these seem to be the emotional consequences of monogamy, and going against them might make one emotionally polyamorous even if one remained sexually fidelitous. And yet, it seems disrespectful of the time and love already invested in a relationship to let it go forever. Some of my best friends are ex-lovers; just ask Chy.
There was also a backrub circle on Sunday, which was nice but unexpected: I'd noticed very little casual flirting and no serious seduction during the weekend (a pleasant but surprising change from the bimonthly polyfidelity potlucks here in Seattle). Then again, I don't notice this behavior much at SF conventions either, although I know that it goes on a lot. Perhaps the core issue is that I'm not very flirty myself: Janet used to say that she made all the first moves during our courtship, and I suspect she's right. This has been changing, though, ever since I realized that flirting isn't necessarily a sexual invitation – it just seemed that way because most of my lovers had to break out the clue-by-four before I noticed their interest. But I've never been comfortable going to bed with people I haven't known for awhile, and I didn't want to create any false impressions. Of course, the sensuality of touch isn't inherently sexual, and backrubs can be perfectly platonic when done right.
In fact, my second backrub was therapeutic, as the woman giving it (Miss Jules) is a licensed masseur. I'd noticed her earlier (she also had a blue heart on her nametag and she was in a triad with Ishmael, the other black guy at the convention), but we hadn't really talked much before Sunday. After the circle, I discovered that her triad all wear an earring with the same design – but she can't come out as poly to her father because his racism would compel him to kill her Black lover. She's brought her loves to family dinners – which took a lot of courage – but introduced her Black love as a roommate and close friend to be safe. This sounded very painful, but I liked her love's planned response if the old man ever found out: yelling "I'm the nigger that fucked your daughter!" won't advance civil rights, but it might give the old guy a heart attack before he can shoot. And it would be so very satisfying!
And then, the convention ended. Lynn and Victor took Debbie to the airport and swung by a mystery convention called Bouchercon to catch up with Andi Shechter (an SF and mystery fan formerly of the Bay Area who currently lives in Seattle). For my part, I got a ride to the airport with Steve Hayes. But alt.polycon wasn't completely over for me, because I started reading the alt.polyamory newsgroup – where many conversations started at the convention continue to this day.
Go to Part 12: Back in Seattle and Onward to the UK
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