“So, why isn’t your husband here?”

I’m sharing a table at the vendor’s room of EverfreeNW, a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic convention.

I love going to conventions. I love going to conventions in order to spend time with friends who I don’t get to see as often as I like, to see and occasionally buy cool and odd things, to get away from mundanity for a few days, and sometimes to learn new things. Because I am a big introvert, I don’t really do well at the kinds of convention activities where one is required to interact in an open-ended way with a lot of strangers.

Oddly enough, I have discovered that the best way to see all the cool costumes, nifty artwork, and so on, while avoiding too much stranger interact is to staff a table at the convention and try to sell stuff. This may sound like a contradiction, but the structure of the dealer’s den means that generally I am only interacting with strangers in a limited number of ways. I am usually simply answering questions about the merchandise at the table. I’m not a hard-sell kind of guy. I will try to make eye contact and smile or greet people who are looking at the merchandise, but then I let them make the next move.

It is easy to spend the time when people aren’t asking questions writing. The last many years I usually have either my Macbook or my iPad with a bluetooth keyboard. Previous years I would have a notebook and a pencil. I wrote the first draft of one of the funniest, horror/epic fantasy/Christmas ghost story cross-over pieces ever entirely by hand in a dealer’s den in Chicago one con, for instance.

I got a lot of writing done on the first day of EverfreeNW.

I also had a lot of cool conversations. One of things I’m selling are a bunch of our duplicate 2-inch vinyl pony toys. We bought several extra boxes of them last year to do our pony-themed Christmas tree. So I had a box full of them which people were picking through looking for their favorite characters. One woman kept holding up some of the obscurer (“background ponies”) characters and asking me their names. I had to confess that I don’t recognize a lot of them, either.

At one point I said, “I’m sorry. My husband knows the names of most of the background ponies, not me.”

“Why isn’t your husband here, then?” she asked.

I pointed to the enormous line of hundreds of people waiting for registration. I had been hearing stories all day that people were waiting in line for hours to buy their memberships. I said, “My husband is on registration staff. I don’t know when I’ll see him again.”

“Oh, yeah, you may not see him again until the con is over.” She went back to looking at the ponies. “I must say, even though they’re being slammed, the people who waited on me were all very nice and helpful.”

She bought about half a dozen ponies.

Several other fun conversations were with younger kids about buttons. My husband has recycled a lot of the packaging material for some of the pony toys by turning them into pin-back buttons. The buttons are popular with lots of folks, but the kids seem especially enamored of the buttons. Most of the conversations centered around which is their favorite character, and what the best picture of said character was that we had on a button.

I noticed that the younger kinds most liked the inch-and-a-quarter size. Though the slightly older ones would pick the small buttons, then realize that the price was the same for a big one, and go looking for a large one with the same character. Because the buttons have been made by cutting out pre-printed packaging, we seldom have the exact same pose in both sizes.

One girl tried to talk her younger sister into switching to a bigger one of the same character. “No! This one’s better!”

Can’t argue with that!

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