Other than my voice sounding like I'd been yelling jokes in a loud movie theater for a solid day--for some reason--I was in remarkably good condition on B Fest Sunday. Perhaps there's something to be said for this "sensible diet and moderate exercise" stuff after all.
Most of the attendees had fled early, trying to avoid the predicted Snowmageddon weather in the Midwest and eastern seaboard or because they had a plane to catch; this makes the Saturday post-Fest dinner doubly important because it's where people wind up saying their goodbyes until the next year. The only people left at the hotel (I missed the Nebraskans' departure by about ten minutes, apparently) were the two people from Minnesota and the two from Michigan. We made the final stop on our Diner Pilgrimage to Marilyn's, a pancake house a few minutes east of the hotel on Dempster that I'd stopped at randomly eight or ten years previously and instantly added to the annual B Fest itinerary. Kelvin is a caffeine addict and Melissa only drinks decaf, which made me wonder how their drive back home was going to go. They're used to this, though, and I'm sure everything turned out fine. They've got a copy of the 48-disc mixtape that I've made as a hobby, the Timothology, so that probably helped with the drive.
After a brief stop to return the toy chainsaw at Toys Backwards R Us (it was a neat gag and great souvenir, but not worth thirty bucks) David and I found our way back onto 94 and headed east to go home. It appears to be that one of the new traditions of my annual Chicago vacation is terrible driving conditions on the way down and nothing at all wrong on the way back. I guess if I've got to choose one terrible leg of the trip, I'd rather have the beginning of the journey go wrong than the end of it. Although if I get an unrestricted vote, "nothing going wrong on either day" is what I really want.
The iPod plugged securely into the dashboard radio, I tormented David with the B Fest 2014 playlist (admittedly not much as tortures go; he seemed to like it) and then switched to a playlist called Outsider Bop, full of song-poems, Shooby Taylor and Bob Vido and other demented listening choices. The country ballad "Five Feet Nine and Half Inches Tall" made the biggest impression, because that happens to be David's height. As he put it, "I have a theme song, and it's pretty terrible".
Miles vanished as we drove through Illinois, Indiana and damned near the entire width of Michigan and we made plans for the next year's Fest trip. It always gladdens my heart that people want to do this sort of thing again and hopefully now that he knows what to expect David will make it through the next one with head held high and delighting in the dire-ass movies. Just like he did on this one. One stop to buy gas, windshield washer fluid and grape jelly at a one-horse town off an interstate exit later, my friend had been dropped off at his apartment and hugs were exchanged all around (plus his three-legged Pomeranian alternated yapped at me or licked my hand in greeting). And past that it was just one short hour back from Ann Arbor to my parents' place, where I was able to sleep the sleep of the just and then return to my mundane life.
I want to thank my friends at the B Movie Message Board for making this trip possible--the end of 2013 featured the loss of my job (nineteen positions were eliminated at my former place of employment and I was one of the lucky chosen), the lease running out on my apartment, moving back in with my parents to save money during my job search, and two pieces of car trouble that will add up to about a thousand bucks between them. And when I mentioned that I had been laid off back in November several of the regular posters on the BMMB took up a collection and raised $250 so I didn't have to spend my own money getting there and back again. Plus Rob treated for my ticket to the event itself, which meant I didn't need to worry about using A&O Films' web site to get in the door. So shines a good deed in a weary world.
Thank you, Scott, Jessica, Josh, Rob, and Tim, from the bottom of my heart. Or, as I more properly know them, El Santo, Juniper, Bergerjacques, KO Rob and Professor Mortis. Growing up nerd in a right-wing suburb didn't prepare me for moments of random kindness and generosity and I can only hope that some day I have the opportunity to pay your efforts forward. Thanks to Tim Doyle for buying a box of CD cases so I could defray the cost of this year's mix disc (I didn't see you at the Fest itself--did you make it? I know things are confused there and there's a lot of doughy white guys but I'm sure I would have seen you if you'd made it). Thank you to Joel for the bottle of Green River that I need to ration out thanks to The Diabeetus; I will give it a good home in my belly. Thank you to Jacob Smith and Melissa Kaercher for their donations to the Telstar Man Is Broke fund. Thank you to Bryan and Mal for a day and a half of mooched meals and to David Braley for breakfast before I got the bad news about my car on Tuesday morning.
And I'm sorry that Bergerjacques and Hen Grenade couldn't make it this year. Hopefully there will be a big goofy BMMB family reunion in 2015. A goofy family reunion where Skip Mitchell brings his daughter again, the first official member of The Next Generation to attend from my group of compatriots.
And thank you to everyone who goes down to Chicago in the middle of awful weather to give me a sense of belonging and fellowship that I honestly don't know that I'd have any other way. I may not know your names, but I certainly know your faces and the movie marathon absolutely wouldn't be the same without you. Thank you to the new attendees--I hope you come back again, and again, and again in the future. Save me a seat near the aisle and hopefully next time I'll remember to buy a stack of paper plates before the event.
And now, if you want to read other attendees' take on B Fest, click on any of the following links:
And I promise to add more when I become aware of more. See you in Evanston next year; same Fest time, same Fest channel.