Back at the Gavin again…back where the heartburn begins…elevators, escalators fat-back and fried green tomatoes…back at the Gavin again.
The Gavin convention in Atlanta. I don’t know, call me crazy, but somehow it just doesn’t ring true. I’m the last person to hold on to the past and talk about “the good old days,” but somehow, a Gavin convention outside of San Francisco just doesn’t hold the same excitement and romance of San Francisco.
That’s even stranger coming from me, because I’m one of the few people in the civilized world who doesn’t list The City By The Bay as one of their favorites. Too windy, too cold and too hard to figure just who’s what for my lifestyle, I guess.
But a Gavin convention anywhere except San Francisco seems like a blind duck in a goldfish pond. Literally speaking, it fits…but it just doesn’t feel right.
You shouldn’t listen to me anyhow. I’m not particularly fond of Atlanta, mass groups of people and conventions in general…except for The Network Magazine Group’s 1997 convention, but that’s another Editorial and another year. So let me not digress any further.
For those of you who have never attended a convention…and for those of you who have and need a few reminders…let me brush off a few “convention tips” that will make your long weekend in Hotlanta easier. And if I don’t accomplish that, maybe some of the etiquette tips will, at least, allow those around you to have a nicer time.
You’re In The South, Boys And Girls: You’ve heard all about the New South? Forget it. Best to prepare for the worst and accept the best. You’ve never experienced anything quite like true Southern hospitality, but you must repay in kind or be branded a Yankee Carpetbagger and risk being tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail. Refer to every male who might be the least bit older than you as “suh…as in, “yes, suh.” Every women…regardless of age…is “Ma’am.” Of course, all groups are “ya’ll.” We’re big on tipping hats and opening doors in the South. And “Thank You” is a very big deal. No matter whether it’s a waiter, the man who shines your shoes (we’re also big on shiny shoes in the South), cab drivers or drunks, always say, “Thank You.”
When Did You Get In? Please …please…don’t use this worthless expression. What do you care when people got in? They’re here now, aren’t they? Isn’t that all that matters? If people ask you, “When did you get in?” it means they could care less about who or what you are. It’s small talk at its worst. If people ask you this lame question, immediately stick a fork deep into their right eye. Then, as you’re waiting for the ambulance, you’ll have something to talk about.
The “More Important” Stare: This is a symptom of entertainment industry conventions. It happens when you begin talking with people and they gaze over your head or shoulder as they search the room for someone more important. Don’t do it. If you’re cornered by dweebs you really can’t stand, spend a few seconds in conversation, look at them, then excuse yourself. You’ll be a better person for it and so will they. If you are having a conversation in the lobby or a party with people who do this to you, immediately stick a fork in their left eye. This will prevent them from looking at anyone until the ambulance arrives.
Topless Bars: Can we all show a little class and not go to any of them? Okay, so I went a little over the line. But be careful. In the topless bars of underground Atlanta, you can lose a lot more than dollar bills.
Miz Rudolph: It’s one of the myths about Atlanta that happens to be true. Miz Rudolph runs an after-hours club that knows no equal. Few know the exact location of this combination juke joint/fortune-telling/opium den and fewer still are invited. If you are lucky enough to get to see Miz Rudolph up close and personal, remember these words of the wise: Do not stare at the tattoo on her left breast; do not pet the three legged monkey and watch out for Toodlums with little baby feet!
Cabs: Atlanta is no place to walk. Bring plenty of cab money. You’re going to need it. Almost everything is a cab ride away and most of these rides are expensive. However, the great thing about cab drivers in Atlanta is that most all of them speak English…with a twang, of course
The Most Popular Question: That would be, “Have you seen Sholin?” Relax. Everyone will eventually see The Duke. If you’re lucky, he’ll even pretend he’s glad you found him.
You’re Going To Be Late: The Atlanta airport is the worst in the country for flights leaving and arriving on time. This is because it’s Delta Airlines’ hub…or that’s their excuse anyhow. Every flight goes through Atlanta, so yours is going to be late arriving or leaving or both. Deal with it. Take the time to have some Southern Valium (a.k.a. Jack Daniels whiskey). There’s a saying in the south: “If you die and go to hell, you’ll have a layover in Atlanta.” Pray the weather is nice. The good folks of the South have this thing about snow: They like to watch it, not clean it up. If it sleets, we’re all out of luck.
The Davenport Comet: It has been a while since we’ve witnessed this phenomenon. If you’re up late in the lobby, you may get to see a rare appearance. If you think you’re hallucinating because you see a naked man running across the room trailing a flaming roll of toilet paper, don’t freak out. It’s not an uncommon sight in this part of the country.
Emergency Phrase: This is in case you’re caught in a restaurant without a reservation or have to wait in line for something else. Valerie DeLong (of the Atlanta High School Homecoming Queen family) has some clout. “Ya’ll know Val?” can work. Try it. Don’t mention John Fagot. They’re still not sure about him.
Real Emergency Phrase: If you wind up in a bar full of mean-looking rednecks who begin giving you the chicken-eye, you’ve got only one chance. Grab a long-neck, knock back about half of it, slam the bottle on the bar and yell, “How ‘bout them Dawgs!” Don’t make me try and explain it, just trust me.
Enjoy the Southern hospitality. Drink a mint julep, order plenty of fried chicken and mashed potatoes and don’t forget to smile when they say:
“Ya’ll come back now, you heah?”