On New Year’s Eve, my family went out to see Book of Mormon. When I wasn’t laughing, wincing, or wondering about the ceiling’s structural integrity, I was glancing over at the guy sitting next to my sister, who shrieked with laughter and rocked back and forth (amplitude ~3 feet. very impressive!) after every joke. And there are a lot of jokes in Book of Mormon.
After the show finished and the performers had taken a few bows, Elder Price frantically waved his hands and shhh’d the audience. After we fell silent, he cued Elder McKinley, who asked us to join the cast in a rendition of Auld Lang Syne. And then the whole theater had linked arms and was swaying back and forth, and the cast had linked arms and were swaying back and forth like a miniature reflection, singing Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? while I sang duh nuh nuh! since I don’t know the lyrics to the song. While we walked to the tube station (along with half of London, it seemed) I heard at least five or six different languages shuffle past.
That night, my family joined 13.7 million people in watching the broadcast of another rendition of Auld Lang Syne, followed by the countdown and an astonishingly spectacular fireworks display that you should really watch if you haven’t already. The BBC estimated that a quarter of a million people were packed shoulder-to-shoulder by the Thames that night.
Thursday morning (the 2nd) I said goodbye to London and flew to Washington, D.C. Very groggy, I sat down and made it through two sentences of Blue Mars before an elderly couple came over and asked me whether I was in the right seat.
…Nope. I moved.
In case I hadn’t caused enough offense, I accidentally trebuchetted a spoonful of frosting into the woman’s lap after the crew handed out afternoon tea. Not my finest 8.5-hour flight! I did have some successes: I watched 5/7 episodes from Season 1 of Breaking Bad and napped for a couple of hours.
Anyway, we all made it in one piece. This afternoon, I arrived at my hotel and for a few minutes wondered whether I had accidentally stumbled into a theme park. There were more wigs than real hair, elves and staffs and battle armor and face paint and an impressive variety of weapons. I passed a room labeled “LARPing”. My elevator company included a guy in a full cat costume (I only knew it was a guy by his voice). Eventually, I stopped someone and interrogated him. Turns out that this convention center is being used for a Music & Gaming Festival! No wonder.
I congratulated the guy on his cat costume, then searched my room for a fridge, with grand plans to get Thai take-out and save some for later.
Distraught, I went out into the hallway with the hope of finding some kind of communal fridge. I bumped into my neighbor, who was walking out of his room and wearing a MAGfest badge.
Me: Hey! Do we have a fridge in our room?
He took a few seconds to respond, presumably to figure out that I meant “are there fridges in these rooms?” and not “do we have a fridge in the room that we are (surprise!!) sharing?”
Just then, another MAGfest guy came down the hallway, and asked us whether we would like to join a hotel-wide game of Assassins. I answered “yes” on behalf of myself and my neighbor (he shrugged as if he didn’t care, but I knew he wanted to play!) and all three of us hung out for ten minutes or so. Turns out that my neighbor has been coming to MAGfest for nine years, and that those nine years have been enough to see its attendance increase from hundreds to about twelve thousand. I also learned that “cosplay” isn’t really his thing, and that cosplay is annoying because it’s very time-consuming, because if you’re going to dress up like your favorite character from a video game you have to do it exactly right or people will judge you. We all went our separate ways, and my neighbor told me that I was welcome to join various MAGfest parties.
Half an hour later, when I was heading out to buy my pad thai, I bumped into my two new friends again and it made me happy to be able to say hi and address them by name. And I found the fridge: it is in fact disguised as a set of drawers, presumably because thieves usually go for the fridge first.
And now it’s 10 PM and my body says that it’s 3 AM because it’s stubbornly insisting on Greenwich Mean Time. Tomorrow is Day 1 of a two-day workshop that I could not be more excited about. I’ll keep you posted! For now, good night, strangers!