I just can’t quit her though She has grown big, fat and ugly since our first idyllic get together some three decades ago. Her face, once graceful, fine and gentle now is a lumpy mess; the curve of her calves, so svelte, beautiful, alluring now rage outward as an uncontrollable mass; and the simple luxury of a kiss and a hug long ago vanished, supplanted by the ubiquitous push and a shove. Her fingernails, manicured and delicate in her youth, now configure as gnarled lobster claws , a built in GPS system linked directly to my wallet and nothing more. She is mean, spiteful, and hard to deal with, but I just can’t quit her.
She has cost me a lifetime of fortunes and forced me into sleeping positions crack addicts wouldn’t be found dead in. I’ve abandoned friends and business associates. I’ve traveled long distances to be with her; lived in my car for her; forgotten to get a life, ditched girlfriends, forsaken showers and walked around like so many others under her spell -- dazed, confused, seeking that one dumpster to tie me over until her return.
How have I been repaid after years of extreme faithfulness, a fanatic subservience to all of her peculiar demands, and my blind tolerance towards her new BFF’s, speaking languages no universal translator would even bother inputting? Around her bloated waistline now hang, like malignant mothballs, the hip Hollywood tripe and their whiny "Entourage"-style acolytes; role-playing juvenile card sharks, and Renaissance Faire wannabees who stumble around looking as if they’ve missed the last botany boat ride to Fangorn. The worst of the lot are the gamers, ever confident that their opposible thumbs are gifts from above and therefore better than us mortals.
I want my old San Diego Comic Con back.
I first met her back in the late 70’s, in a poorly lit convention hall in a nondescript downtown hotel in San Diego. I didn’t know what to expect, me a fresh faced kid from the Midwest, she a southern California beauty of dubious background. I had never met anything like her before, certainly not in Madison. She had everything I wanted and more.She spoke my language and I didn't even need to hide my Midwest twang.
Her price for several days of companionship was in my budget, and so we danced the “come hither, you geek” fandango all weekend. The two of us were young, trim, our hormones not yet in need of high octane booster injections to keep us awake all night. I finally had someone to talk to that didn't nag me about cleaning up my room or bathing regularly or wearing shirts that didn't have button down collars.
I loved her from the very first booth of Fawcett Comics. This sweet little thing could have come from the wrong side of the tracks, off the beaten path, piping down from the valleys of no return for all I cared. She was all mine and I didn’t have to share her with no more than several hundred equally strange and pasty looking characters. The only girls I remember seeing were runway models that looked like Mojo.
She made all of us feel right at home for we were safe in her arms. Jocks didn't show up to beat us up; girls didn't pull surprise wedgies on us; and all of our milk money went to purchase additions to our collections. We were respected, cared for, made to feel like royalty. And no one laughed at me the entire time I wore my Superman cape.
Over the next several days I saw copies of all the comic books my mother had burned while mourning my death at either Antietam or Balaclava or Isandlwana or whatever battle she used as her excuse to rid the basement of everything I held dear. Early editions of X-Men, E comics, Mad Magazines, Fantastic Four. I could have them all back again, wrapped individually in clear cellophane and not in butcher paper, which is what I used to wrap them in.
I could have my collection back again. Just like new except for the inflation cost. Okay so that would mean I would have to finally get a job and no longer ask for pennies as a mime in front of LACMA on weekends. I could do that. I could finally go legit in my 20s.
Now, after all these years of loyal service and probably millions of dollars in bought goods, She treats me like a two bit hooker with speedball needles still stuck in my arms. She has gone big big time, paralyzing a city as if she were Godzilla and Mothra combined. 125,000 people arrive for her services this year. I am trampled on by hordes whose only connection to comic books is that they know how to spell paper, jostled around and packed into rooms as if I were practicing to become a Japanese commuter and forced to wait hours for over-priced hot dogs, cheap beer and cold hamburgers. Truckloads of paparazzi and gawking fans follow celebrities down halls that resemble Pamplona except here everyone resembles the bulls.
This is it. I finally want a divorce from her. I never want to see her again. I bump into no one any longer, except at parties where everyone is so drunk I am referred to as that crusty old spittle-soaked guy who hates the world. I’ve been shut out of too many panels and had too many of my feet stepped on by walking Hindenburgs.
I couldn't find anything I can afford. Hey! I'm buying comic book art, not Tiffany Crystal. The hotel rates are beyond exorbitant, including the one I stayed at that charged me $350 a night to swim in their fountain and scare off the pigeons.
I am now driving back on Interstate 5: angry, disillusioned, and exhausted and writing this post using both hands because cars are bumper to bumper so why worry about steering? And when I see her again, this time next year, mark my words, She’ll get a piece of what’s left of my mind. And I’ll be wearing steel tipped work boots so I won't care who steps on me.
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