In the intervening years, I think I officially attended IBR twice, maybe three times. There was a year I couldn't go due to a last-minute business trip [to this date the only one I've ever taken overseas] to the Apple offices outside of Heathrow, which I remember mainly for being yelled at by BOSF for actually daring to request they give my prepaid registration to someone else who could use it [I know! The noive!]. The last one I went to must've been the year I met Dave Cobb. Wonder when that was.
Anyhow, to me, it's generally kind of horrible because I really, really hate crowds. Especially crowds of cretinous, pushy vacationers who think they can do whatever the hell they want, because it's San Francisco, and, hey, because we're all Bears here, y'know? Bleah. And then the continual panhandling by BOSF members starts up [buy a raffle ticket? help out our oppressed queer animal companions at the transgender puppy shelter?], the crowd starts drinking, and I cut out early. Man.
So I went by the host hotel this morning because my friend Mike [aka Dr Rocks] requested that we meet him for lunch. I thought, OK, no problem, we'll just show up, pick you up, and go have lunch far away from the madding hordes. But, wouldn't you know it, Mike must've stayed up too late, or slept in in the wrong bed, or God knows what, because we couldn't find him. This meant that I had to hang around the hotel for about an hour, which was way uncomfortable for me.
As arrogant as this sounds, I don't recall the Bears being so incredibly fat ten years ago. As Anthony's English Beat CD might say on the cover: Wh'appen??? It's either a reflection of the wider cultural shift towards obesity, the Girth and Mirth guys giving up and growing beards, or something else. I don't know. I do know that I generally don't like it. A man with a tummy is a wonderful thing [witness the magnificent grunter or chrisvandemore], but a lot of these folks could only be classified as morbidly obese. But what really, really bothered me, deep down, was the extreme-ness of fashion displayed. Bring on the freaks! I vaguely remember Beardom once having a generally narrow range of "looks" [yeah, I know, you're thinking of Zoolander here], ranging from the jeans and flannel to the biker look. You know, go back to the first dozen issues of Bear and take your pick. TC's Smudge or the covermodel. And that was OK. It felt masculine and straight [in the sense of mainstream] to me, and I liked it a lot. But damn, something changed. I had a look through some calendars people were buying and passing around; one of the two porn star calendar-poser-signers in the house was wearing some freaky chain mail tank top thing; the other was wearing a highly unlikely combination of fireman's overtrousers, piercings, and about eighty extra pounds around the middle. You know, man-tits. Bleah.
Looking around the lobby, I saw an ex-title holder who looked vaguely like Beaker from the Muppets except with waaay too many earrings and those creepy steroid-y muscles some, ahem, "musclebears" have these days. I saw acquaintances I remember moving to The City ten years ago, still on the endless prowl for Hot Action In The Big City. I saw any number of just plain fucked up people sporting amazingly robust septum piercings, "daring" [read tacky and/or unfortunate] clothing, and forty boring variations on the now-standard Bear T-shirt. I had a chat with Brad the T-shirt vendor, whose stylish, tasteful T-shirts appear to be not so popular now [I guess folks have moved on to something more in your face at this point? Or maybe no one has a lot of money floating around?]. I had a chat with acquaintances from Atlanta and LA in town for the weekend. I ran into my ex-roommate, near-neighbor and good friend Brian, who seemed kind of overwhelmed.
And, I have to admit, I saw at least two men who really, really made my head spin. One was my old friend John, whom I kinda sorta dated about ten years ago but who I think didn't recognize me [must be the thinning hair, the grey, the different weight?]; the other was a handsome, greying daddybear of sorts who just seemed relaxed, waiting for his buddy, dressed like your average Omaha pediatrician would. One of those men who just look comfortable to be themselves. Sure, maybe it was limiting to really only have that jeans and flannel look ten years ago, but at least you were expressing your individuality [Lands' End? JC Penney? LL Bean? Eddie Bauer? So many choices...] instead of just getting some dorky T-shirt to prove you went to a bear run or whatever. Anyhow, this gentleman was truly a sight: masculine, relaxed, independent... OK, hot. There, I've said it. I'm secretly a big ole cub at heart.
But of course, this also happens to be a weekend where I've come down with a cold. So I headed home without having lunch with Mike, but at least without spending too long in the stress of social situations. I'm having some tea, sitting around reading in bed with the cat, and waiting for the Marmot to come home late tonight. He finally heard from Mike after we were more than halfway home, so at least he'll probably be able to find him tonight.
Me, I'll finish off the TV dinner, finish ripping a few CDs, get Brodie's WMA CD off to him on Tuesday, wonder where the hell my paycheck disappeared to, read some more, and hit the hay. [Finished some more SF this afternoon; now, it's on to a Celluloid Closet-esque study of homosexuality in cinema. You know it's Very Serious because it's published by Routledge and they used the word cinema.