Sigh. This day dawned so full of hope. I sooo hoped that we would turn out to be a regular, normal group of people. Alas, in the end, we turned out to be as weird as I had feared.
Al and I arrived at the convention around 8:05 or so, and did a quick sweep of the bar to see if anyone was hanging out. No one was (all talk, eh gauchodirk?). We somehow managed to find sparkles, and headed to the ballroom where the Hendry/Piniella session was going to take place. Despite everyone's promises that they would get there early and help save seats, Al, sparkles, and I wound up playing Elaine in the movie theater for AT LEAST half an hour. Eventually I went BACK to the bar, figuring I was going to find half of BCB three sheets to the wind, but no luck. By the time I got back to our seats, Ozgreeder and his lovely wife were there, and were soon followed by cubbieboy and his beautiful bride, gauchodirk, jessica, flyball, and BCB cartoonist Mike.
As soon as they announced that we could ask questions, I high-tailed it up to the mic in what can only be described as feat of Payton-esque bobbing and weaving (I credit many years of college bar experience), with Al in hot pursuit. We had our questions ready to go (me asking about patience and working the count, Al asking about pitching), but at the last minute, I reminded Al about the players not being able to get on the field for infield practice, so Al decided to ask that instead. And HEE! Hendry bristled and got all defensive. It was hi-freakin'-larious. Sorry about that, Al. But it was so worth it. I can't wait to hear the audio.
Sparks and I left a little early to stake out some tables in the lounge. I left to use the ladies' room, and when I returned, I found sparkles talking to a juvenile-delinquent-looking dude. My first instinct was to jump him, but decorum got the better of me, and I said "Who is this, sparkles?" the juvenile delinquent said, in a really sh*tty tone, "Who do you THINK?"
Oh hi, you must be Faith.
One by one, the motley crew started pouring in. flyball, Al, jessica, cubbieboy, Faith, Ozgreeder, gauchodirk, giddyup, cubfanwill, wccubfan, Imterejo, kerrysotherwife, sparkles. I know I'm forgetting people, so apologies in advance. I also made some pretty snazzy spur-of-the-moment name tags, which SOME PEOPLE weren't man enough to wear (gauchodirk, once again, I'm looking at you). And just because they were pink and Hello, Kitty. Pffft.
After chatting and take a group photo, we all headed down to the main areas. And I do mean ALL OF US. In a big line. And for some reason, everyone seemed to be following me. We wandered around for a while, and quickly decided that there was NO WAY we were getting photos or autographs with any of the big tunas. So, at least those of us who were still en masse, decided to set our sets on the "B" team, which really made the convention extra fun and especially hilarious. I mean, nothing is more fun than a group photo with a really confused Bobby Howry or gauchodirk admitting that Doug Dascenzo was his top priority or me convincing Faith to let Les Lancaster sign his pass, because trust me, he was good for one season.
Of course, in the midst of all the sillines, I had to go wait in line to get my Mark Grace autograph. At first I felt kind of stupid touching up my makeup in line, until I noticed that EVERY OTHER woman in line was doing the same thing. Finally, the big moment arrived. Face to face with my first really big crush. And here is how it went:
(Julie steps up to the podium, ball clutched in her sweaty little palm, praying to God that the makeup is holding up and that my curls are all in place)
Mark: Hi beautiful. (I think he said this to every woman, but I'm pretending that I DON'T think this)
Julie: Hi there, handsome.
Mark: Do you want me to use a ball point?
Julie: Do you have a ballpoint?
(he only had literally about 57 pens in front of him)
Mark: I've got anything you want, girl. (Hee!)
Julie: We're all really glad you're here.
Mark: I'm really glad I'm here. It's good to come home.
Julie: (whispers): Mark?
Mark: (whispers) What?
Julie: (whispers) Can we take a photo?
Annoying security guy: NO PHOTOS!!!!
Mark: Pfffft. (waves his hand at security guy)
So we took a photo. And it was GREAT. And he smelled nice.
Mark: Bye, curly-q.
Sigh. I'll never wash my pen again. And I owe it all to Al.
I probably could fill about 10 pages of this kind of thing, but instead I'll give you a list of some of the highlights:
- Photo with sparkles, Faith, and Mickey Morandini and Ron Coomer (See? "B" list. What? It was fun!)
- Photo and conversation with Mike Bielecki because NO ONE else was in line behind me. So I just sat there and hung out with him for a while. He's funny, and he cracks me up.
- My secret mission with Faith that is going to cause one of our most beloved BCB posters to burst a vein, but it will be so worth it.
- My hot dog that was purchsed by Doug Glanville.
- Getting a hug from Pat Hughes because I didn't have anything for him to sign.
- Seeing Fergie all alone downstairs with no one around.
- The "Boys of Zimmer" segment with Mark Grace, Mike Bielecki, Dwight Smith, Jerome Walton, Doug Dascenzo, Ryno, and Les Lancaster. It was hilarious and sweet and endearing. You can really tell how close those guys were. The bear hug between Mark Grace and Dwight Smith was especially touching.
Meeting all of you just confirmed what I had suspected, which is that we are not just a bunch of people who post messages about the Cubs, but a real community of people who have gotten to know each other little by little over the course of the last year or so. Our get togethers were very comfortable, highly hilarious, and actually a lot like an OBD that has completely run off the rails. In other words, we were right at home.