Friday night, I attended the Monster Mania Convention at Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cherry Hill, NJ. It was the first time I’ve ever been to any kind of convention, despite how much I’ve wanted to go for years. Any time I had the opportunity in the last few years, I was always working all weekend when the con was being held. Being unemployed gave me a bit of an advantage this time since it means I have weekends off.
I attended with my friend and fellow Rowan University grad student, Kaitlin Zeilman. She’d been to this con several times before, and some of her other friends were on a first name basis with half the vendors. Since it was my first time, I didn’t know what to expect. I definitely found it an educational experience.
The first thing I did was peruse the vendor tables. There was a wide selection of clothing, jewelry, and accessories, many of them handmade. There were all kinds of collectibles, ranging from horror movie memorabilia (given that it was a horror movie convention), to other geek-culture collectibles from Star Trek, Doctor Who, Batman, and plenty of other comic books and video games. There were also some rather swanky steampunk items for sale, and I ended up walking away with a rather dapper hat sold by Steampunk Works.
There were a number of celebrities in attendance. My friend got an autograph from Verne Troyer, Michael Berryman, and a couple of other stars. There were a few horror movie stars there, as well as some cast members from The Walking Dead. I also saw Denise Crosby, and while she was most likely there because of her appearances on The Walking Dead, I’ve always been a fan of hers from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Also in attendance were Adam West and Burt Ward, also known as the original TV’s Batman and Robin. Rumor has it that Adam West threw some sort of tantrum at his signing table; he ended up leaving the floor after only about an hour, and wasn’t seen again. Though there were some classic pieces of Batman history parked out front:
Of course, not everything at the convention was comic books, superheroes, and undead. Not for me, at least. There was an unexpected personal encounter that I wasn’t quite prepared for.
I don’t often mention my family on the blog. There’s a reason for that. I’m not on speaking terms with most of them. I still talk to my dad and we go on fishing trips and do the whole male bonding thing. But I also have an older and a younger sister, neither of which I’ve spoken to in seven years. I’m not inclined to go into details about that story right now, but I can relay the short version.
My older sister and I shared a townhouse for about a year and a half from 2006-2007. I moved out when I got involved with a girl and we decided to move in together (she and I ended up being together for four years). I gave her a little over a month’s notice and paid my share of the rent until the end of July that year. My sister unloaded a fair bit of anger at me when I asked if I might leave my computer there for an extra week after the end of the month, since I didn’t have internet access in my new place, and I needed internet access to pay my bills online. The request prompted a deluge of complaints, a refusal of the favor, and a demand that I finish vacating the premises and return my key. I did so, leaving with the distinct impression that I would not be welcome to return. I waited to see if there would ever be an invitation to come back over, such as for the weekly dinner gatherings my sister and a circle of friends had there every Thursday. I was never invited back. That was seven years ago.
I’m no longer angry at my sister, nor am I holding any sort of grudge. I’ve simply accepted that she doesn’t want me in her life, and I have no inclination to put forth the effort required to rekindle our relationship. Which made things especially awkward when I found out she was running a vendor table at the convention. Dana runs a website called Bodycounters.com. The purpose of the site is to watch movies and count the number of dead bodies, including humans, animals, aliens, and even dead relationships. They chronicle the totals on the website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (as of this writing, the movie with the greatest total body count is Melancholia, with a total of 7,021,836,029 dead by the end of the movie). Obviously this is a fitting site to be represented at a horror convention, and the Bodycounters have a wide range of merchandise for sale. Though I was still caught off guard when I walked right past her vendor table without any clue that she was going to be there.
I gave serious consideration to approaching the vendor table, but frankly, accidentally crossing paths at the Monster Mania Con didn’t really strike me as the best way to approach someone I haven’t spoken to in seven years. I ended up simply avoiding that end of the vendor room for the rest of the night, and I’m not certain whether or not she saw me the one time I walked by. If she did, she seemingly also decided not to make contact.
So that’s the story of my first ever convention experience. I saw the Batmobile, Denise Crosby, and Verne Troyer; I bought a very dapper hat; and I had the biggest surprise of the year when I saw my sister. If nothing else, it was an interesting experience. Though I’m definitely glad that Adam West was the one who caused a scene and stormed out, instead of it being my family drama that made a scene.