DaveCon 2008

For years I’ve jealously read others’ DaveCon reports, vicariously sharing their excitement and dreaming that one day I too might be invited to attend. When that day came and I got the invitation from Traci, I was stunned. My shock was so great that I was convinced that there had been some sort of a mistake (that could happen with a bulk mailing) or (though I couldn’t really imagine) it was some sort of cruel joke.

After emailing Traci and getting her assurance that there was no mistake, I was really invited, I felt, as I told Traci, like a kid at Christmas. I really did; I don’t know the last time I was so excited.

Immediately, I made arrangements to stay with my sister and BIL in Connecticut, booked my flight, and put in for the time off from work. As the days passed, my excitement waned somewhat, then, as DaveCon approached it again built to a fever pitch.

Other than discovering, a few days before I was supposed to leave, that one of my connecting flights had been canceled (Travelocity did a fine job taking care of this), my flight from Dayton to White Plains was uneventful. I did enjoy chatting with my seat mate on the second leg of my flight, Adrianna, who was quite lovely and friendly. Alas, she’s married, but she was nice enough to pose for a picture.

On the day of the show I took the Metro North from Waterbury CT to Grand Central Station. From the moment I stepped into the main terminal at Grand Central I was in complete sensory overload, a state in which I would remain for the rest of the day. I was totally overwhelmed by Grand Central and couldn’t make heads or tails of the subway map, so I wound up getting off of the subway on 42nd street at Times Square. Feeling much more confident in my ability to navigate above ground, I started walking up Broadway toward the Ed.

I finally make it to the Ed, snap a couple of quick photos of the marquee and make my way into Angelo’s. I knew everyone was meeting upstairs, but upon arriving upstairs I started to feel a bit panicked, not spotting a familiar face anywhere. After a few tense moments I recognized Micah, Helen, David Yoder and Traci (then others, quickly) and wandered over to introduce myself and say hi. Various folks asked about my cat, reaffirming my suspicion that I’ve unwittingly cast myself in the role of “idiot with cat on his head”. I suppose there are worse things to be known for. Traci gave me a DaveCon button and a kazoo (compliments of Pat Fleet, who, sadly, couldn’t be here), Donz gave me DVD’s, Bob (Nek) offered me a delicious chocolate, and before I knew it, it was time to line up at the theater.

We got our tickets (I got #17), received some instructions from the pages, were informed that the theater’s restrooms would close at 2:00 and told to be back at 2:30. I went to the CBS store and bought a sack full of t-shirts and coffee mugs, then to Rupert’s for more shirts and mugs and a quick photo of Rupert. When I saw a group of AFLers chatting with Mike McIntee I wanted to introduce myself and say something clever about him mocking me in the Wahoo a few weeks back but only managed to grab a couple of photos before he disappeared back into the theater. About this time I realized that I had miscalculated my bladder capacity / nervousness ratio and asked Donz where I might find a restroom. He directed me to some sort of salad-bar/restaurant/store about a block north, saying that if I bought something they might let me use their facilities. I quickly made my way there, bought a Coke, left some coffee, and rushed back to the Ed where I found that we were already lining up. I assumed my place in line next to the lovely Shirlee.

We were herded into the lobby, instructed as to the dos and don’ts and ‘warmed up’ (as if that were necessary!) by a page who was quite engaging and funny and who seemed to really enjoy being there. After waiting around for a bit, Marilyn passed out the ceremonial Altoids and we were let into the theater.

Entering the theater was like walking into a dream. I’ve seen it so many times on TV that it was familiar, but it’s so much more impressive in person. The background cityscape/diorama, in particular, is so much lovelier than it appears on TV. The whole thing was so surreal, it was (at the risk of sounding cliche) like a dream.

I found myself in the third row right in the center, sitting between the lovely Shirlee (who was flanked on the other side by Mark) and two nice non-afl ladies.

Eddie Brill came out and greeted us, even specifically mentioning the ‘alt letterman people’, which almost caused me to, in my excitement, utter one of the ‘forbidden sounds’. They showed the classic “Dave works at Taco Bell” video then Eddie told a few jokes.

Then the excitement really starts to build. The band starts to play as they take the stage one by one, introduced by Eddie B. The band sounds absolutely amazing, I could listen to them play all night. Finally the big moment arrives and Dave comes bounding out onto the stage. I was literally misty-eyed and covered with goosebumps, I was so excited. Dave tells a couple of jokes and chats with us (the audience) a bit, then asks if anyone has any questions. Shirlee does! With ninja-quickness her hand shoots up and Dave calls on her. Dave and Shirlee chatted for a moment and Dave asked if either of the guys beside her (myself and Mark) is her husband. “No”, she replies. “Who are they?”, she shrugs and says she doesn’t know. Gee, thanks, Shirlee. She asks why there isn’t a statue of him in the wax museum, Dave makes a joke about appearing in person and then it’s time for the show!

Dave heads backstage, the band begins to play and when Alan Kalter announces Dave, it’s another goose bump moment for me.

After the show we found out that thanks to my new archnemesis Kevin Spacey’s Jamba Juice escapade on May 19, the crew was replacing the carpet and thus there would be no tour nor photo-ops at Dave’s desk. A bit of a bummer, but I was riding far too high for it to, as Intern Lyle might say, ‘harsh my mellow’. It’s really a shame. Kevin Spacey was one of my favorite actors but now he will remain ‘on my list’ until I get my picture taken at Dave’s desk. I just pray that his relegation is only temporary.

We taped our Tony Mendez show, which was great fun, though I did find myself self-consciously hiding from the camera. Everyone else was great with their acting. I don’t know if they’re all naturals in front of the camera or if it’s born of familiarity, but it really seems to come quite easily to them.

Dinner was fantastic and I really enjoyed chatting with Renee and her two friends (I’m not sure they’d want to be named, so I won’t). Tony Mendez stopped in and I was thrilled that he sat at my table, chatting happily and even sharing some behind-the-scenes gossip! He had forgotten to bring me a cue-card like we’d discussed earlier at the theater, but he took my address and assured me that he’d mail me one. He is such a nice guy, so personable and generous with his time.

After dinner, many of us headed to a local watering hole called Smith’s to continue the festivities. Some of us were so overwhelmed by the day’s events that we opened up and shared far too much, much to everyone’s embarrassment. (OK, actually, it was just me).

All good things must come to an end and eventually it was time to go. Walking with Nick and Marilyn who had so generously offered me a ride back to my sister’s, thus sparing me from having to catch the last train to Waterbury at 9:07 I saw something that stopped me dead in my tracks. A man with a cat on his head! A kindred spirit! I pointed and said something brilliant like “Look! A man with a cat on his head!” and he said something mildly confrontational about us both having the same ‘biker beard’. As I stood there dumbstruck he asked if I had a couple of dollars for a man with a cat on his head. “Yes, I certainly do”, I said, reaching for my wallet. I happily handed him all the singles I had on me (3? 4?) as Nick and Marilyn warily edged away, their expressions telling me “We’ll leave you here if we have to, bumpkin. Come on.” Not wishing to be left for dead in the big city, I followed.

We made it to the parking garage where I was astounded to discover that a month’s parking in New York costs more than the rent on my 2-bedroom apartment with a view of the park back home in Ohio.

Traffic was a bit of a nightmare for some reason, so it took quite awhile to get out of the city. I was thankful that I wasn’t driving. We did come upon some sort of motorcycle “Fast and the Furious” type gathering which was interesting, if a bit unnnerving. Try as I might I couldn’t seem to keep my eyes open for the ride home and spent a good bit of it nodding off. Thanks to the wonders of GPS and Nick’s impeccable driving skills we made it safely to my sister and brother-in-law’s. I again thanked them for the ride, said good-bye and wearily trudged up the steps, through the door, up the stairs, and collapsed into bed.