His name was Orc1. He was a tall, blond man with a string jaw and wolf-like eyes and a voice that made Bowser from Sha-na-na look like a soprano.3. I met him at a Worldcon Bid Party4 called "Say NO to Dundalk in '87 5," and I was positioned on a hotel bed by a cooler that had Mountain Dew 6 and listening to him tell us a tale of a double-booking7 at a convention, I believe it was Shore Leave8.
"I had been gaming for 26 hours straight9, and the game went very poorly, so I left my friend Red Dragon to finish up. I went to my hotel room, and someone brought their girlfriends or whatever, and one of them was sleeping in MY BED 10! So I pushed her aside, and threw myself into bed. I didn't even take off my armor11, which was white leather with silver studs." Orc then pointed to the same armor hanging in the closet. It was pretty impressive, and I could imagine how heavy that armor must have been. I must admit, I wondered why someone would purposely wear it for 26 hours sitting at a gaming table, but hey... it's a free country12. "She woke up for a second, looked at me in my armor, I told her she was dreaming, so she went, 'oh,' turned around, and went back to sleep13. And I quickly followed her in slumber."
Orc then gritted his teeth. "So I had JUST gotten to sleep, where there's a knock at the door. I am thinking, 'Anyone who deserves to be in the room has a key.' The knocking continues more urgently, and won't stop. Finally, I get up, and angrily listen at the door. The person does not state his name, but I hear a series of giggles, and someone has put a thumb over the peephole in the door. I grab my huge costume battle axe, raise it above my head, whip open the door, and shake it with a loud roar, expecting so curse out someone's girlfriend who wants to sneak back into the room because she forgot her purse.
"Except it wasn't a girl, but a small cluster of drunken Shriners14 who had decided to do a run of 'surprise parties 15.' They quickly yelled "SURPR--" before they saw me, and finished their comment with, "--OH SHIT!" and knocked each other over in an attempt to flee from my angry silhouette. I watched them drunkenly scramble together and run down the hall and out of sight. I was pissed as hell, and it took me a while to get back to sleep.
"The next day, I met my friend Red Dragon for lunch. Now my friend Red Dragon is almost as tall as I am, but he wears black and red leather armor, studded with spikes, and wearing the emblem of a huge red dragon on his chest. When I started ranting about the girls in the room and the Shriners, he laughed, and said, 'Well, that explains the elevator 16.' I asked him to elaborate.
"'The game didn't go any better after you left, and so about an hour later, I got up to get some sleep myself. I was riding alone in the elevator to my floor, and it stopped at a floor before mine. The doors opened, and there was a row of Shriners. They said, SURPRI --OH SHIT IT'S ANOTHER ONE!!!! before stumbling around and then the door closed.' Orc and I had a good laugh, and to this day, when we see Shriners, we think a group of drunken old men are gathering somewhere, talking about some drunken memory where scary demons in leather armor were staying at a hotel one day..."
1 - It should be noted that many people in fandom, at least in the 80s, went by the name Orc. I knew personally of at least 6.
2 - Once you get past the fact I am telling it second hand, by someone of unknown validity, retelling half of it from another person's point of a view, in a party where he was trying to impress me, filtered through 17 years of a known faulty memory.
3 - Some of this story has been made into a more gripping tale by adding superfluous adjectives and comments.
4 - The World Science Fiction Society, WSFS, holds bid parties to get the World Science Fiction convention to come to their town. Votes are held 3 years in advance at an earlier Worldcon, so the convention planners have time to realize the foolish thing they have done, can skip town, and go through 2 or 3 complete political upheavals.
5 - There never was a Worldcon Bid for Dundalk (a skanky industrial town in Maryland), the "counter-bid party" was simply an excuse for some people to gather and party.
6 - An American caffinated soft drink that has the kick of a mule, the taste of orange juice, is colored like glowing nuclear waste, and is slightly less harmful to your stomach than battery acid.
7 - Some hotels will schedule several conventions at the same time to make more money. Sometimes the events can be innocuous and never cross paths, and some can mix like a combination of Styrofoam, gasoline, sodium, and water... and there's at least one crazy person in each party with a lit match.
8 - Shore Leave is a gaming and Star Trek convention originally held near a large military base.
9 - Hard-core gamers often "wear the bloody flag" about how long they had gamed without rest, sleep, food, water, or even bathroom breaks. And no matter how bad your story is, someone will always have one to top you. If you gamed for 50 hours straight, sustaining only on one stale can of grape soda and a small bag of pretzels, someone will tell you they gamed through two presidential elections eating their own dice and drinking their own urine for nourishment. Try it sometime. Your story doesn't even have to be impressive, in fact, you can set them all off with something stupid like, "I once gamed for 20 minutes, and that was a LONG time with no breaks!"
10 - When you rent a hotel room with someone, or a few people, or in some cases, up to 50, you usually assume the person who paid for the room gets first dibs on the bed. To take their bed is considered very bad form.
11 - Some people dress in costume at conventions. Or they might be wearing white leather studded armor because they are ready for medieval field combat to make a comeback in the 'hood at any moment. They'll be ready, with their pole arms and maces, laughing at the Uzis which are obviously "not period."
12 - Not to the middle class, it's not.
13 - Fandom is proud at how jaded they are at weirdness. You could hear one say, "So there I was, dressed in full plate mail, trying to get chocolate milk out of the chinks in my breastplate when my wife comes in to the tent with a stuffed dragon around her neck, asking if I heard the new Clam Chowder song," and half of DC fandom wouldn't even think that was a weird series of words to string together. Some might even know the name of the song, and their reply would casually mention the word "Pennsic."
14 - Shriners are a group of old men who are members of the Freemasons, and are often known for wearing fez hats and driving really tiny cars in parades. They often hold conventions to discuss their big charity, Children's Orphanages and Hospitals, but it really seems to be more about getting away from their wives, getting blasted, and causing damage. In fact, according to a manager I used to know that the McLean Ramada, some drunken Shriners once unbolted a soda vending machine, and heaved it over a 8th floor balcony, where it smashed into the side of the marble fountain in the atrium, spilling water and nearly flooding the lobby. Shriners are considered the second most vandalistic conventions to have at a hotel, second only to military proms.
15 - A "surprise party" is a practical joke where a group of people knock on a hotel door late at night, or wait in front of an elevator door on a deserted floor, and scream, "SUPRRRISSSEEE!!" at the usually shocked and bewildered victim. I am told this game is MUCH funnier when done under the influence of alcohol.
16 - An elevator is a small room that people often gather in small hopes that the floor will change. At crowded conventions, followers of this elevator cult seem to collect in the lobby in front of the doors, which open randomly, exchanging the disillusioned ex-members of the cult with the fresh faces of a hopeful group of new people. Not fooled by the literature, I use the stairs, personally.