|slenderman, & mini-slenderman|
So we began at 9:00 a.m., standing in a massive, snaking line. The line wove back and forth, defined by white tape on the cement floor and kept in check by volunteers who walked said white line stating "you are facing this way," while pointing toward the direction they preferred you face. The line eventually wove right out the entrance door (and I would guess there were maybe five thousand of us indoors) where it unfolded to stretch around the Salt Palace like a Halloween-costumed snake. (And the line of in-coming visitors didn't disappear until around two in the afternoon.)
Anyway, after maybe a half hour of standing in this line I noticed everyone around us wore wrist bands while my daughter and I did not. I had pre-paid our tickets online, but now I realized there was more to the transaction. So when I spotted the "Pre-paid Registration" banner at the back of the hall, I asked my daughter: "Do you feel brave?" She assured me she did (or at least, I interpreted her eye-roll as bravery). I then left her to go stand in a second line where I collected our wrist bands.
Then back into the crowd, to find her. (TG for cell phones.) The show opened at 10:00 and by then, the room in which we stood felt short of oxygen and long on people sitting in their designated line, where they played small gaming machines. Eventually, though, we began to move ("I feel like a cow in a stockyard" I was at one point heard to say). By 10:30, we were in.
My daughter had plans: panel discussions, something called the cos-play parade, interviews on the role of Sherlock Holmes in Today's ever-changing world. Then she realized I had only put out for GA tickets (general admission) and not the coveted VIP gold passes that would magically deliver us past an incredible press of humanity and on with her day. After enduring her teenaged tongue-lashing, I informed her that $250 per VIP ticket was above my pay-grade and she would have to either A) settle for trolling the convention floor or B) stand in line for an hour-per-event. She settled for the floor.
We bought tee-shirts, pins, key-chains, posters, anime books and trinkets. We photographed every manga hero imaginable (which for me was fertile ground, because though my daughter is an anime/manga fanatic, I can barely pronounce 'otaku'). My daughter fearlessly asked the people whose costumes she admired: "can I take your picture?" Immediately, they fell into their character's pose. We snapped away. I will tell you, these people take their cos-play seriously. I mean, check out the lead photo again. And look at this:
My daughter explained that these are angels from Doctor Who. They are bad angels, and can kill you with a blink. Or something like that. I'm not sure what that pirate is doing there .... Anyway, this woman clearly spent 364 of the last 365 days preparing these costumes for herself and her family (that's her hubby in the suit and glasses and her son in the bow-tie. Her daughter is obvious). And she was not alone. There were hundreds of people in costume; thousands, actually. So many that after three hours of barely being able to wander the convention floor (it was packed far more tightly than a certain West Coast aquarium's sardine treadmill) we turned to roaming the surrounding hallways, instead. There we found every creature imaginable and in the end, came away awed.
(Well, except for the man in the red speedo who had shaved his chest hair into a triangle. After that retina-searing experience, I may need therapy. My daughter summed it simply as: "Awkward".)