“Colossalcon 15 is an anime, gaming, and Japanese culture convention…located in Sandusky…we are your ultimate summer vacation getaway…” read the website.
Abby and a few of her friends found out about this “ultimate summer vacation getaway” and just HAD to participate, naturally. What could be more edifying, self-actualizing, and entertaining than a few days at a convention at a hotel a few minutes away from Lake Erie with fellow (mostly teenaged) Japanese culture devotees?
Well, call me a benighted, knuckle-dragging lug, but I could think of a few things—watching paint dry, for example, or betting on cockroach races. When Abby began pleading (she prefers the verb “reasoning”) in January that Krista and I take her, I nodded absent-mindedly and tossed in some dismissive grunts for good measure. “She’ll keep this up a week or two at best,” I thought, “and by March this stupid convention thingy will be a distant memory. ‘Colossalcon’?! Colossal CON is more like it.”
March arrived and her frontal attacks persisted. She upped the proverbial ante by cataloging all the things I/we had done with/for Luke and Daniel, and her memory and record-keeping were pretty impressive. After one such session with her, which I would term as one part devastating cross-examination and one part oral dissertation titled “Dad’s not-so-subtle spoiling of Luke and Daniel: Simple favoritism, sub-rosa male chauvinism, or a combination of the two?”
By April I was getting pretty worried about the whole thing. She hadn’t forgotten. She hadn’t moved on. My grunts and nods and “yeah, sure’s” were proving powerless. The evidence she adduced to demonstrate my unfair treatment was damning. Indeed, were I a member of the jury charged with hearing my case, I would have voted to convict. “What a jerk,” I would have announced to my fellow jurors. “Let’s send a message and sentence this dolt to taking his daughter to Colossalcons 15-20!!” Worse, she had slyly enlisted Krista as a confederate in her plan and quasi-invited a couple of friends to attend the convention with her. I write “quasi-invited” because it was unclear to me whether Abby had brazenly bypassed what little authority I fantasize about possessing and said, “Hey, guys, I’m going to Colossalcon 15. Wanna come with??” or whether they had been talking about it together and simply mused that it would be fun to go as a trio, a status that not-very-surprisingly quickly morphed into their attending as a team.
In any event, once Krista was on board it was all over. The die was cast. The fat lady was warbling. Insert your “the outcome was imminent” cliché here. I put up a limp resistance for a few more days, but I knew absent some act of God I was foiled, defeated, humiliated even. We were going, with Abby and two of her eighth-grade friends. There would therefore be five of us, me and four females. In one hotel room. With one bathroom. And lots of clothing. And make up. And wigs. And other (girl?) stuff. Sigh.
So there we were this past Friday afternoon, the five of us in the Swensen’s dependable blue van (“Bessie,” as Krista has dubbed her), driving to the Sandusky area convention center to join forces with thousands of other “Japanese culture” fanatics and their hapless chaperones.
As we approached the drop-off point adjacent to “Entrance A,” I realized several things simultaneously: (1) Abby and her friends were no outliers. This costume play thing (i.e., dressing up as a beloved anime or video game character) is huge; (2) Enormous swaths of our youth need to see more of the sun. Ninety percent of the participants appeared wan, bleary-eyed, even zombie-like—slow moving and slightly disoriented. I encountered a few later at our hotel and learned that most were unable or unwilling to carry on a normal conversation with me. I’m not sure I can blame them, really; (3) Tattoos are apparently very popular. I don’t like them (perhaps coincidentally, a half mile down the road from the convention stood an establishment called “Pain and Pleasure Tattoo”); (4) There is a shocking number of people who are perfectly willing to expose virtually every square inch of their flesh to the public. Indeed, I thought a few folks might end up being charged with various public indecency violations.
As the weekend progressed, I enjoyed a few additional epiphanies. For example, spending time with my wife—no matter where we are—is fun. I knew this already, of course, but I love to experience confirmation. We laughed quite a lot this past weekend, an activity that is underrated and all-too-often in short supply in our lives.
Also: Our daughter has a heart for others and is kind, compassionate, and usually thoughtful. I also discovered that she is capable of holding her bladder for 12 hours at a time (in this regard, she is my opposite); her friends Taylor and Rae are considerate and flexible and smart and funny. They endured my bad jokes and snoring with good humor; I am still capable of getting along reasonably well with four females in tight quarters (I grew up as an only boy with four sisters); and, finally, I have served my debt to humanity. As God is my witness, I will not be within shouting distance of Colossalcon 16.
Timothy Swensen is the author of the weekly column series Virtue and Mischief that is published every Tuesday in The Daily Advocate. He can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.
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