alt.polycon: Saturday Night
(October 13, 1996)
On the way back from the restaurant, I stopped to ask a Black woman who was sitting on the grass surrounded by a bunch of scraps of paper how she was doing. She explained that she was just sorting through her coupons while waiting for the bus, and mentioned that she was going to have to come back to the hotel for work the next morning. This really caught my attention, because I always like to thank the hotel staff for their contribution to the conventions I attend. I did so, and then started talking about alt.polycon with her to let her know a bit more about what she was helping support – and discovered that she was really unhappy with the idea that people were cheating on their spouses. This was exactly the kind of conversation that I'd realized was usually prevented by my constant "outing" of myself, so I told her that nobody thinks it's appropriate for folks to break their commitments, and said that polyamory was about love rather than sex. This turned out to be the right thing to say, because she proceeded to talk about her own lack of interest in sex with her husband – let alone anybody else. I found this to be quite strange, as I couldn't imagine it for myself, but I allowed as how love took many different forms, and talked about Sting's relationship with his formerly estranged ex-wife, who (I've been told) now lives in the other half of his duplex and co-parents with him. I also said that one of the nice things about my life is that I can express my love in whatever way seems right, without worrying about how it might affect my other loves. By the time her bus came (about 45 minutes into our chat), she had opened up to the idea of polyamory and was starting to think about it differently. I walked back to the hotel feeling quite pleased about this.
In the meantime, I'd missed the "Meeting Other Poly People" panel, and the convention panel space had been converted into something else for a wedding reception and/or fundraiser. To accommodate, the evening's panels were moved to a comfortable area in the back for the night. The last panel on Saturday was "You Think That's Complicated..." This sounded like fun, but I got an attack of shyness so I talked with Carla Plambeck (who was leaving Sunday morning) in the smoking con suite. Now, I'm a non-smoker and I seldom hang out in smoke-filled rooms (either literal or metaphorical), but Carla was one of two other Black folks at the convention, and she'd mentioned that she was also in a mixed-race relationship, so I was especially interested in what she had to say. This is probably prejudicial on my part, but I support separatism (when it's based around a desire to hang out with similar folks rather than a desire to avoid different folks) and I'm always interested in folks with related experiences. We talked about our lives for awhile and exchanged e-mail addresses – and then she went up to bed and I went back to the temporary programming area.
Once there, I got my convention t-shirt, which features one of Freddie Baer's best collages: three concentric circles of hearts with a different pattern in each one. The conversation had begun to die down and I'd started to get sleepy when a cop showed up to belligerently tell us that we had to leave because of the noise. This was the first complaint anybody had heard and we all got excited, but Victor (the con's hotel liaison) got up and convinced the cop to talk with him and the manager downstairs. The rest of us were very subdued and anxious, but we didn't adjourn to the consuites (on Debbie's sound advice) until Victor came back and said to. Soon afterward, Jim drove Alan, Debbie, Lynn, and I back to Victor and Lynn's, where we decompressed until Victor arrived and we tried to help him relax as well. Apparently, the polyamory "war stories" told in the "Complicated..." panel had put off the hotel's registration staff within earshot below us, a new manager had come on-shift , and the newlyweds were one door away! This didn't excuse the hotel's lack of courtesy – or their poor planning, as the surrounding rooms had been set aside for us – but it explained it some.
Go to Part 10: alt.polycon: Sunday Brunch
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