In 2013, I was a Guest of Honor at Penguicon.
No con had ever treated me better. My room was handled. My assigned flunky made sure I got fed (or, in my case, made sure I ate). There was a green room with sandwich fixings and snacks and the most ridiculously oversized heap of Pop Tarts I have ever witnessed. Not that I should be eating Pop Tarts, or even particularly like Pop Tarts, but I am always compelled to admire spectacle.
At the closing ceremony, the con chair asked the GoHs if anything went wrong. I said something along the lines of “you were magnificent. the only thing I could possibly say is that there was no toaster for the Pop Tarts.”
Truly trivial. That con was run better than some multimillion-dollar IT launches I’ve been part of.
But Hospitality Czar Cylithria Dubois got a look of absolute horror on her face. She took her job seriously, and had FAILED. Less than perfect! Dishonor, dismay, disaster!
It was okay, of course. We had a laugh afterwards.
I’ve come back most years since. Every year, there have been Pop Tarts in the con suite. Every year, the con suite has lacked sufficient power to plug in a toaster without blowing out the circuit breakers. It’s become a running joke.
This year, ten years after my GoH stint? When I walked up to the hotel check-in desk I saw an assortment of bags behind the counter. I thought “Oh, the ConCom is up to their usual tricks of giving GoHs welcome gifts. It’s nice to see the old ways being kept. Them folks are in for a treat.”
I gave my name, and the receptionist said “We have a package for you!”
Lithie had left me…
…a toaster. With a lovely thank-you note, promising to remember the Pop Tarts in another ten years. I nearly burst an aneurysm laughing.
But in the con suite?
Not one Pop Tart.
Am I saying that after a decade of con suite Pop Tarts, Lithie leveraged her influence to make sure there would be none on the year she gave me a toaster? No. Lithie operates on the highest standards of ethics and probity. I’m certain it’s mere convenient coincidence.
But my long-suffering missus scurried out to a grocery store, so that Sunday I could offer Lithie a toasty-warm Pop Tart.
Not that either of us like Pop Tarts, mind you. That’s not the point.
I’m already planning for next year. Yes, for talks. And… other things.
Lithie says that in ten years, she’ll bring the Pop Tarts. Most twenty-year-old food would transcend staleness, but come on. They’re Pop Tarts. They’ll be as fresh as the day they were excreted.