Serendipitous in Seattle
(or what I did instead of Corflu)
by David Levine
This business of multiple fandoms means that sometimes you have to make hard decisions. Two weeks after Potlatch, Kate and I went to Seattle again. I'd asked a bunch of people at Potlatch about Corflu, and in the end I decided I'd rather go square-dancing with Kate.
It wasn't just me and Kate, it was me and Kate and our square-dancing friend Michael, and square dancing (among straight people) is an extremely "couplist" activity with little room for singles or triads. So Kate and I danced together on Saturday, while Michael went shopping at Ikea (we loaned him a copy of Maureen Kincaid Speller's fanzine Snufkin's Bum with a cautionary tale of the awful things that can happen at Ikea). Then on Sunday Kate danced with Michael while I spent the day with Seattle fans Luke McGuff, Kate Schaefer, and Glenn Hackney. We planned to see a show of Japanese calligraphy at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, have sushi for lunch, and maybe browse the funky shops in Fremont.
When I arrived at Luke's place in Wallingford, Luke and I found a phone message from Kate Schaefer promising to be only ten minutes late. I toured Luke and Jane's basement apartment, which seemed remarkably spacious, with two bedrooms, two offices, two living rooms, two kitchens -- no, wait a minute, it's just toroidal. Luke and I talked about fandoms -- square dancing, Fremont Arts Council, and SF -- over orange juice for half an hour or so, then decided to walk down the block and see what Kate and Glenn were up to.
We arrived just as they were unloading some shelving from their car. They too had been to Ikea. (Synchronicity in action. I had barely heard of Ikea before this weekend . . .) They had achieved shelving, and we helped carry it in. I was impressed by Kate and Glenn's house, a fine bungalow with plenty of wood trim and spectacular beamed ceilings in the living and dining rooms. They also have a brand new VAIO (the computer formerly known as Sony, whose name is an unpronounceable four-dimensional glyph). We had fun watching the graphics rotating on the startup screen for a while, then went off toward the museum. On the way, Kate pointed out a house where Gary Farber once lived, until it burned down. Also an apartment building where some fan named Matt used to live. And the offices of Dr. McIntyre -- Vonda McIntyre's dentist, but no relation -- former home of the Country-Western Dental Hygenist.
But first we stopped off at the Broadway Center to see if we could get tickets to "Louis and Dave," a Seattle Fringe Festival play that a friend of Luke's recommended highly. However, when we got there we found the performance space -- a 1987 Plymouth Volare -- was gone. (Yes, the play was performed in a car. More on this later.) Had the play closed early? Had the theatre been stolen? We inquired within, and found that the theatre would be arriving shortly and tickets would go on sale at 12:30. We decided to catch a bite to eat and come back for the show.
Now, a bite to eat was problematic, because one of our party was allergic to just about everything except sushi. So we found a nearby sushi place in the phone book and gave it a call. It was closed. (Or too busy to answer the phone, just as bad.) But we thought we'd seen a Japanese place down at the other end of Broadway, so we walked back to the car and set off In Search Of Sushi. Once we got there we had to park -- not an easy feat in Capitol Hill, but through pluck, perseverance, and invocations of the Great Spider and Doris Day, we triumphed.
It was closed too. And the other Japanese restaurant across the street was purely a noodle bar; not useful. Kate and Glenn suggested an Indian place in their neighborhood -- Indian food being not completely non-allergenic, but possibly close enough -- so we walked back to our lovingly hand-crafted parking place (admiring on the way the alien birdhouses and other public art projects that make Seattle such a nifty place) and drove back to Wallingford. As we drove, Kate pointed out another house Gary Farber lived in once, before it burned down. Also another apartment where Matt used to live. After two further restaurants were closed or being steam-cleaned, at last there was Chutney's, the new Indian place in Wallingford Center. We drove past. It was closed. No, wait -- there were people moving around inside! It was open! Quickly we parked and ran inside. They had a buffet. It smelled good. We ate it. Only half-way through the meal did we realize we had no idea how much it cost.
By the time we finished our (reasonably priced, as it turned out) lunch it was after 2 p.m. But when we got back to the Broadway Center there were four tickets available to the next show of "Louis and Dave" which would be starting in 20 minutes. We bought our tickets -- ensuring another sold-out show -- then walked up and down Broadway, talking about Clarion, until showtime.
Promptly at 2:30, we were met by Louis and Dave (as identified by their baseball caps): our ushers, as well as our cast. They walked us to the Chevron Volare Theatre and checked our coats in the spacious trunk, then escorted us to our (extremely cozy) seats in the back row. We were offered a tempting assortment of tasty treats from the concession stand in the glove compartment, and were invited to contribute our wrappers to the already-substantial pile rustling at our feet. After a brief safety lecture on the usage of our seat belts, which would be needed in case of any unexpected eventuality -- such as the car moving -- the dome light dimmed and the play began.
The story of Louis and Dave, all fourteen minutes of it, was set in an '87 Volare as well as being presented in one. In the play, Louis and Dave drove around the main strip of their small town, yelling out the window at girls (who ignored their pathetic advances), full of confidence that some day soon, they would indeed Score. Then Louis (the passenger, skinny, pockmarked, blonde) mentioned to Dave (the driver, who resembled Dave Thomas from SCTV) that Canadian power-trio Rush would be coming to town next Thursday. Dave was initially enthusiastic, but then realized that he would be unable to attend the concert because of his book group. "Book group? You mean, like, reading?" Yes, Dave was a member of a book discussion group, currently reading Camus. "Camus? The killer whale?" Well, it got worse than that. Dave would also have to miss the Giants game because the symphony was coming to town -- "and it's Mahler!" "Smaller than what?" And then, the real killer -- it came out that Dave would have to miss something else because of the ballet: he was in it.
Louis was appalled. "Are you trying to tell me that you're -- an intellectual?" Yes, it was true. It was a big emotional coming-out thing for Dave; he'd been hiding it all this time. Louis couldn't take it; he got out and started to walk home. "Please don't hate me," Dave begged. In the end, though, they shook hands through the open window and promised to meet as usual next Friday night. End of play.
After that there wasn't enough time for the art museum, so we drove and walked around Capitol Hill goggling at the huge old houses -- some magnificent, others appalling, many both. I specifically remember the stone fruit bowl finials at one place, so overgrown with moss they looked like something from the back of the fridge. On the way back to Wallingford, Kate pointed out a house where Gary Farber had once lived that was still standing, and another apartment where Matt Whatsisname used to live. Also the place where Jerry and Suzle lived when they first moved to town. We hugged everyone good-bye, picked up Michael and my Kate at the square dance, then headed home to Portland.
And even though none of the specific things we'd originally planned to do had actually occurred, it was exactly the sort of fannish day I'd hoped to have. Serendipity triumphs.
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