While the Scribe Posse Weekend Retreat offers career-building opportunities, it is, ultimately, an exercise in building character. Collecting 2/3 of the posse (plus agents), the central event of the long weekend was the Book Launch Party Saturday night (celebrating the release of barthanderson‘s Patron Saint of Plagues). Beyond that, darinbradley was supposed to teach us about scotch, experimeditor was to lend us a little grace and class, and I was to…well, tend bar, I suppose. (No, actually, I was there to get notes on SOULS and generally celebrate a successful completion of the draft. Widget is due in three weeks, so this was the last chance I would have for some time to decompress. My darling wife, bless her, is a very tolerant woman.)
Anyway, after a long redeye flight from Seattle (yeah, good and fucked by United on that one, but that’s another story), I stagger into the hotel with a few other stragglers. Check in, get a little liedown, and then find Darin for coffee at Michelangelo’s (the neighboring coffee shop). We meet up with agent man Kris and head over to the Great Dane Brew Pub to begin the drinking. Kris shows up in black combat boots, black t-shirt, bent straw hat and utili-kilt. It is an entrance that will only be upstaged by his partner several hours later. Pursued by cat-calls and horns honking for the burly man-skirt, we stroll around the Capitol Building to the Dane.
This walk is, as best I can remember, the last time the entire weekend that there is no alcohol in my bloodstream. It is barely 1.30pm.
After lunch and the genial “how you doing?” conversation, we wander back to State Street where a local fellow is completely flabbergasted by the sight of a man in a skirt. Standing next to our party, he coughs and sputters out a series of incoherent sentences (punctuated by hand gestures that are, I think, intended to be disparaging about the skirted one’s sexuality). Kris gives him a hard stare and he flees across the street, lurching and staggering and talking to himself as only the homeless can. Our destination is the local ice cream parlor where we meet up with the rest of Kris’ family and he introduces me to his son as “this is the guy who will be providing your college education” and Darin to his daughter as “this guy will be putting you through school.” While nicely supportive of our respective writing careers, it is a bit daunting to have a four year old stare at you with those big innocent eyes and realize that flaming out after one book isn’t really an option. No pressure there. At least we’ve got twelve years or so to hit our strides.
Nap after ice cream and then it is time for dinner. We collect Barth and Forrest and wait for Jesse, the other half of Scribe Agency, in the lobby. Now, we’ve been building up Darin’s expectations for Jesse all day and the man’s arrival manages to live up to the hype. Jesse’s day started fourteen hours earlier in Canada where he was coming off a two-week fishing trip and, just as we’re starting to wonder if he made it back across the border, he comes staggering/sauntering in. Tousled hair, heavy layer of stubble, flip-flops, barely pressed shirt and staring at his cell phone like he can’t quite remember what it does, Jesse’s entrance is a thing of unorchestrated beauty (Ah, Paul, it would have made you weep.) We repair to Old Fashioned’s, a relatively new Madison restaurant whose menu is the high cuisine of Wisconsin.
After dinner (and several old fashioneds), we wander back to the hotel, hit a few of the parties, and when we discover that the hotel bar closes at 12.30am, we venture out to the Flatiron Tavern to try their scotch list. I have the Glenmorangie 12 Sherry Cask Finish, the Scribe lads have the Talisker 10 and 18, Darin and Barth had the Lagavulin 16. We had been indoctrinated into the world of single malts. This was, if my memory can be trusted, the earliest night of the con. To think I started the day with the redeye from Seattle (which was only 15 hours after I was *supposed* to leave.)
(More as I remember it. I’m still trying to recall what we did for dinner Saturday night.)