The McLean High School Science Fiction and Fantasy Club (damn, that's long to type) would pay for the hotel rooms with a simple formula of the Total cost of room divided by the number of people who slept in it... paid in advance. Back in the 1980s, before Black Tuesday of 1987, hotel rooms were pretty reasonably priced. A fine hotel room in the Inner Harbor, for example, was a mere $49/night, so 2 nights of Balticon was like $110 after taxes. And when you had 10-13 people in the room, that was $10 or less for a weekend of crash space.
Yes, we stacked like cordwood. Bed dibs went to seniors, and sometimes there was 4 teens to a double bed. Adult chaperons? Oh my... those were more innocent times. "Yeah, we have an adult chaperon. Let me go find him or her..." Not that anyone ever said that, because no one ever asked us to prove anything.
Many times, the managing staff of our club let a few payments slide for "pals," and somehow we'd end up short (I put an end to this when Stacy and I ran the show in our senior year). So we'd solicit for paying crash space, and rarely did we have problems finding someone, since a lot of people showed up to con just expecting to find a place to sleep... somewhere. So what kind of person wouldn't mind sharing a bathroom and some floor space with a bunch of spazzed out teen nerds?
Disclave 87. Enter "Maria Blackwell" (which was derived from her real name, but I forgot what it actually was). She was one of our roommate contestants, and quickly among our list of, "You know what? We need to have some kind of screening policy..." She was very thin, very short, and had black hair that hung in semi-flat ribbons around an very angular face. We specified "no smoking," so she thought that meant, "I can smoke if I have the window open." I don't know how old she was, but we think around 30-35. Her small frame was hidden by layers of black clothing that spoke of a bohemian influence, and her high heeled leather boots spoke of a Germanic porn influence. She only ate a kind of handmade herbal yogurt in sealed jars, which seemed to give her terrible gas. I am not sure which was worse, the farting or the apology she gave after each fart.
"You have acne," she suddenly told me once in a gravelly voice that sounded like a female Louis Armstrong , and she let her third clove cigarette from a chain of smokes curl wisps of blue smoke out the 10th floor window. "I had acne. Just like yours. They said it would go away after I stopped being a teenager." After a deep drag from her cancer stick, where her brain concocted her next statement carefully, she blew a lungful of smoke out the window, which promptly blew right back into our room. "You know what?" she asked, and punctuating the sentence with her thin nicotine-stained finger clamping down on the beige wrapper of her cigarette. Before I had a chance to answer, she exclaimed, "They LIE!!" Her voice was practically spitting a bitter venom of years of angst and regret.
She spoke to some of our female roommates as if their prettiness would fade, and boys would stop a-calling. Her unsolicited "shock feminist" conversation, better reserved for ditzy teen cheerleaders, was being spread among the geek squad who had never heard of "boys a-calling," much less cared about their outwards appearance. "Did she just say my vagina would turn gray and sag? Ew...!"
Her constant gas and smoking got her evicted by Saturday night. She never came back for her yogurt, which we ended up throwing out the window Sunday.