It's 1991. I've just sold my first short story and found a writers' group, the illustrious Over The Hill Gang. The consensus amongst the Gang goes like this: you sold, so you're a pro. You're a pro, so you should con. BayCon, to be exact, the area's longest-running science fiction convention.

And I have, um, zero interest. Remember, this is 1991, and nobody outside fandom actually knows what it is. When I think "science fiction convention," the immediate picture in my mind is: Trekkies. Uniforms and phasers and pointy ears, and endless nitpicking about Kirk vs. Picard. Yawn.

But I pull it together and go, primarily because the May meeting of the Over The Hill Gang will be held in the lobby bar at the Red Lion, smack in the middle of the tenth iteration of BayCon. The meeting's on Sunday, but they tell me I definitely want to get a full membership for the weekend and check out the Masquerade, which happens Saturday night.

So I do this. I roll in around 6pm. I do indeed see fuzzy velour uniforms and pointy ears, but also: skin-clad barbarians, Belle and the Beast, some very impressive Renaissance Faire cleavage, Darth Vader with a Romulan honor guard, a six-year-old who made his own RoboCop rig, and a mermaid in an electric wheelchair. And all of this is in line to get into the masquerade, not the thing itself.

The masquerade is hosted by a Klingon ventriloquist.

The Klingon ventriloquist opens with a crack at the audience. In Klingon. The audience roars. I am confused.

The Klingon ventriloquist's dummy give the Klingon ventriloquist some sort of sass. In high-pitched Klingon. The audience roars again, and I am even more confused.

And then ... the Klingon ventriloquist takes out an electric pain-inducing stick, and kills the dummy.

And I am suddenly laughing so hard that it hurts, right along with the crowd, and I get it.
Right here, right now, this weekend only ... I am a normal person.